Being an adolescent isn’t easy. It’s a time when they face new challenges as they try to figure out who they are and where they fit in the world. As they struggle through this period of their lives, adolescents are at risk for mental health illnesses. The most common of these is depression. In fact, 1 out of every 5 adolescents have struggled with depression during this time.
Let’s talk about what depression is, how you, as parents, can identify it, and what you can do to help your teens or someone else struggling.
What is Depression?
Depression is a serious mental illness that affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. Depression is not just feeling sad or down. It is a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest that can last for weeks and even months. For young adolescents, depression can greatly impact and change their lives. It can affect their school performance, relationships with friends and family, and overall well-being.
Some people may be more at risk of developing depression. Here are some risk factors that may increase the likelihood of depression:
- Genetics: Studies have shown that people with a family history of depression are more likely to develop it themselves. This is thought to be due to genetic factors that make some people more vulnerable to depression.
- Brain chemistry: Depression is often associated with imbalances in certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. When these chemicals are out of balance, it can lead to symptoms of depression.
- Life experiences: Stressful or traumatic life events, such as losing a loved one, abuse, or bullying. These events can cause a person to feel overwhelmed and helpless, which can lead to the development of depression.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as chronic pain or thyroid problems, can also increase the risk of depression. These can cause physical symptoms that can mimic the symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and changes in appetite.
- Substance abuse: Alcohol and drug abuse can also increase the risk of depression. These substances can alter the way the brain functions, which can lead to the development of depression.
- Personality traits: People with certain personality traits, such as low self-esteem or pessimism, are more likely to develop depression. These traits can make people more vulnerable to the negative effects of stress and life events, increasing the risk of depression.
The Identifying Symptoms of Depression in Adolescents
Depression is a serious mental illness that can have a significant impact on a teen’s life. If left untreated, depression can lead to problems in school, work, relationships, and overall well-being. Identifying the symptoms of depression is important because it can help people get the help they need.
Remember these 12 emotional and behavioral changes you may notice in an adolescent. These changes may be a symptom of depression.
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness.
- Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness or decrease in self-confidence
- Feelings of guilt, whether or not they’re at fault
- Becoming irritable or easily angered
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Changes in school performance
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Changes in appetite and eating patterns
- Becoming more inactive or more restless
- Neglecting self-care and hygiene
There are many different interventions available for adolescent depression, and the best treatment plan will vary depending on the individual’s needs and preferences. Some of the most common interventions include psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and support groups.
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is a type of counseling that involves teens talking to a therapist about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. There are many different types of talk therapy, and finding the right one for your teens will depend on your individual needs. Some common types of talk therapy for depression include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and family therapy.
Medication can be an effective treatment for depression, especially when combined with talk therapy. There are many different types of medications that can be used to treat depression, and the type that is right for your teens will depend on their individual needs and preferences. Some common medications for depression include serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).
There are some lifestyle changes that can also help to improve depression, such as exercising every day, eating a healthy diet, and getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. These changes can help improve their overall mood and well-being, making it easier to cope with depression.
Support groups can be a helpful way to connect with other people who are experiencing depression. Support groups can provide a safe space to share their experiences, learn coping skills, and get support from others who understand what they are going through.
When to See a Doctor?
It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating adolescent depression. The best treatment plan will vary depending on the individual’s needs and preferences. If you are concerned that your teens or someone you know may be experiencing adolescent depression, it is important to talk to a pediatrician or mental health professional. They can assess their symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment.
In addition to the different symptoms of depression, the pediatrician or mental health professional will also consider the adolescent’s medical and family history. They may also order some tests to rule out other medical conditions causing the symptoms. These tests may include blood tests, imaging tests, or psychological tests.
If they believe that the adolescent is experiencing depression, then the pediatrician or mental health professional will discuss the diagnosis with the adolescent and their family. They will also discuss the available treatment options.
Early intervention is key to treating adolescent depression. The sooner they get help, the better their chances of recovery.
Adolescent Depression Identification and Intervention in Palm Harbor, Westchase, Trinity, and Lutz
At Children’s Medical Center, our developmental pediatricians have earned the trust and confidence of the families in the communities we serve for the exceptional care and support they provide for children living with ADHD and other behavioral problems.
We utilize objective, evidence-based assessments and connect our patients to the most effective interventions. We work closely with families, and together, we empower children to stay focused, build confidence, and flourish in every aspect of their lives.
To arrange a visit with one of our development pediatricians, call us today at (727) 787-6355 or fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to serving you!