Depression

Depression in Teens: An Epidemic

Lonely Man Leaning against an urban wall

What is Depression?

That feeling of low, hopelessness, and unmotivation is all too familiar if you or someone you know is suffering from depression. When a person has constant negative thoughts circulating within their mind, there is only so long that those thoughts can stay within the human frame. It is only natural that these thoughts will affect a person’s mood and personality, affecting all aspects of their life: social, professional, familial, and financial just to name a few. These characteristics of depression are common among the human species, in fact, it is estimated that over 300 million people suffer from depression or symptoms of depression.

Symptoms of Depression

Some signs and symptoms of depression might be obvious to the onlooker, while others might be easily passable. It is important to recognize and acknowledge the signs in order to be aware and proactive about receiving help. Some of the symptoms of depression include, but are not limited to:

  • Low energy and overall fatigue
  • Anxiousness
  • Hopelessness
  • Change in appetite
    • Lack of eating
    • Stress/binge eating
  • Unmotivated and unproductive
  • Isolation from social situations, and society in general
  • Sleep issues
    • Lack of sleep/insomnia
    • Sleep all day/oversleeping
  • Loss of interest in previously loved activities
  • Dark side
    • Sudden change in appearance (clothes, hair, makeup)
    • Change in choice of music
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of shame
  • Inability to problem solve
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Thoughts or attempts of suicide

Teen Depression Statistics

Depression does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages, races, religions, and nationalities. Depression is particularly prevalent among adolescents. When depression presents itself in youth and adolescence, it is particularly unsettling for onlookers because of their innocence and inexperience. According to suicide.org, depression in teens in continuously on the rise. Some of the facts and figures surrounding this rise are as follows:

  • 20% of teens are affected by depression or feelings of depression by the time they reach adulthood
  • Suicide among adolescents is the third leading cause of death in the United States for people ages 15-24
  • 10-15% of all teens suffer from symptoms of depression at any one point
  • Only 30% of teens suffering from depression are actually receiving treatment for the mental disorder
  • Every 100 minutes an adolescent commits suicide
Depressed teenager in unstable home

Reasons for Depression in Teens

Our teenage years can be some of the most exciting yet challenging ones in our lives. The vulnerabilities and new experiences can be overwhelming. Trying to manage and  balance our social lives, grades, and changing appearances are a constant battle. It is no wonder that there are many individual and combinations of reasons why depression in teens is so prevalent. Some of these reasons include:

  • Anxiety
    • Making and maintaining friendships
    • Nerves about public speaking in school
  • Bullying
    • One of the leading causes of depression and suicide in youth
  • First heartbreak
    • High school is typically when we experience our first love. This intense new and exciting experience can be exhilarating, until it comes to an end. A breakup, especially our first breakup can be devastating. Teens are inexperienced with how to manage this new kind of pain.
  • Awkwardness
    • Physical changes
    • Social awkwardness
  • Pressures of high school
  • Popularity contests
    • School clubs, activities, sports, events, and parties can generate anxiety and competition
    • Introduction to drugs and alcohol
    • Teenage years are often the time when adolescents are exposed to and may be pressured to experiment with drugs and alcohol
  • Puberty
    • Physical changes to our bodies, faces, and voices can be both awkward and challenging to cope with
    • The reality and realization of growing up
  • Issues at home
    • No one knows what is going on behind closed doors. Situations at home involving parents and siblings may include: domestic abuse, substance abuse, or divorce
  • Grades
    • Obtaining and maintaining decent grades to work towards college and a future
    • Parental pressure can play a role in the stress of performing well enough in school
  • Genetics
    • If a parent or relative has a history of mental health, particularly depression, there is a greater chance that it may affect the child
  • Trying to find yourself
    • Figuring out who you are and where you fit in is extremely common not just in teens, but in people of all ages

How Teen Depression Affects Others

If you know a teenager suffering from depression, it goes without saying that you are most likely worried about them and their future. Family and friends of depressed adolescents may silently suffer alongside, with or without them knowing. The anxieties regarding what an inexperienced teen may be capable of is frightening. Every close person to a depressed teenager may experience different emotions and fears, such as:

  • For parents…
    • It can almost be unbearable to watch and observe your child suffer from the depths of depression
    • Often times mothers and fathers can fall into their own state of depression due to the anxiety and despair associated with the concern for their child’s state and future
    • For siblings…
      • Brothers and sisters, depending on age and birth order, may have their own anxieties of watching their sibling deal with depression
      • Younger siblings, in particular, tend to look up to their older siblings and sometimes strive to mimic or be like their older sibling (which is also frightening for parents)
      • Since depression is dark and mysterious, it can be quite confusing for a young sibling to comprehend
  • For friends…
    • Because depression is so hard to understand, oftentimes friends get lost because they do not know what to do or how to help
Mother Worried About Unhappy Teenage Daughter

Get Help!

Depression is a mental disorder. It requires professional help and guidance in order to recover and heal from its depths. Whether the help requires talk therapy or medication, or a combination of both, it is critical to seek out a professional who is equipped with the tools to help guide a teen towards recovery. It is of course paramount that a person is willing to get the help they need, however if you or someone you know is not willing to look for help on their own, reach out and make the phone call for them.

Resources:

http://suicide.org/

http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression

https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression/symptoms

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