Depression is a common yet highly misunderstood condition. People often mistakenly believe that depression is an adult’s disease only, but the reality is, it is pretty common among teenagers, as well. There are more than 4 million cases of teenage depression in the U.S.
What Is Teenage Depression?
Affecting nearly 17 percent of teenagers across the U.S., teenage depression is a common mental health issue. It is associated with noticeable changes in behavior and mood, as well as the way they think, usually resulting in an unexplained feeling of sadness and frustration.
Signs of Teenage Depression
Keeping an eye out for any of the following changes in your teenager’s behavior or emotions can help detect if they may have teenage depression:
Behavioral changes caused by teenage depression include:
- Reduced energy
- Appetite changes, which can either be lack of appetite and loss of weight or overeating and gaining extra weight
- Chronic irritability
- Sleeping disturbance, either insomnia (inability to sleep) or sleeping too much
- Social isolation
- Frequent body aches and fatigue
- School problems
- Drugs or alcohol use
- Frequent tantrums and risky behaviour
- Self-harmful attitude
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Depression affects emotions, as well. Keeping an eye out for any of the following emotional disturbances can be useful:
- Unexplained sadness and crying
- Frustration and a feeling of helplessness
- Feeling of low self-esteem
- Continuous feeling of guilt
- Loss of interest in activities
- Loss of interest in social contact
- Increased sensitivity to failures
- Need for continuous reassurance
- Excessive self-criticism or self-blame
- Trouble concentrating and remembering
- Frequent thoughts about suicide or death
Talking with your teenager can help you understand what they are going through and work together to find a solution to the problem.
Risk Factors of Depression
The definitive cause for depression is unknown, but there are some factors that are closely related to most reported cases.
These factors include:
- Experiencing or witnessing a form of violence, such as sexual abuse or physical violence
- Having problems that lowers their self-esteem, e.g., academic problems, peer pressure, bullying, or obesity
- Suffering from a learning disability
- Suffering from another mental disorder, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, bulimia, or anorexia
- Suffering from a chronic illness, such as diabetes, cancer, asthma, etc.
- Drug or alcohol use
- Being pessimistic or overly dependent
- Going through stressful life events
- Having an abusive or neglecting family
Other factors include:
- Hormonal changes
- Psychological trauma
- Disturbed brain chemistry
- Negative thinking patterns
Prevention of depression can be challenging. In fact, it can’t be completely prevented. However, there are some actions that may help reduce the risk for it.
These actions include:
- Communicating well with your teenager about conflicts and their feelings
- Encouraging your teenager and enhancing their self-esteem
- Seeking the help of a medical professional
- Being patient and supportive with your teenager during treatment, as in some cases it can take some time to work
When to See a Doctor
Teenage depression requires medical attention. In fact, if neglected, it is more likely to result in suicidal thoughts and cause your child to miss out on living their best life.
In the case that depression interferes with your teenager’s quality of life or they begin experiencing suicidal thoughts, you should immediately contact a professional mental healthcare provider who is capable of working with teenagers suffering from similar mental health issues.
Teenage Mental Health Experts in Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL
When it comes to your teenager’s mental health, take no risks, and don’t hesitate to visit us at Children’s Medical Center. Our board-certified pediatricians specialize in developmental disorders and are able to provide you and your teenager with the top-tier, comprehensive care we know you deserve.
You can contact us at (727) 787-6335, and our friendly staff will help you schedule an appointment. We look forward to meeting you!