Depression in Teenagers
The teen years are tough, isn’t that the understatement of the century? The angst of the American teen has been fodder for movies, books, and water cooler conversations since before our grandparents’ time, but never before has the plight been more difficult. The bullying and opportunities for ostracism is easier than ever before with the advent of social media. It’s bewildering to us parents because even though we may consider ourselves tech savvy, our kids are always one or two (in my case) steps ahead of us. So, as parents, how do we know when our kids are just been sullen teenagers or is there a real problem? Is your teen suffering from true depression or just the blues? Every kid is different, but in order to truly understand the disorder called depression, we must understand the what we are dealing with.
What is Depression?
According to the Mayo Clinic staff, depression is a medical illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Sound familiar? It’s more than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can just “snap out of”. Depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment. Major depressive disorder, clinical depression, and major depression affect how you feel, think and behave. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Your teen may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities.
Is My Teen Depressed?
You’ve probably seen your teen’s mood vary drastically within a day or even by the hour. This is not unusual. It’s pretty common for a teenager to experience the “blues” or feel “down in the dumps” from time to time. The teen years are tough with all the changes physically, emotionally, psychologically, and socially. According to Dr. Jane Framingham of PsychCentral.com, “Adolescent depression is increasing at an alarming rate. Recent surveys indicate that as many as one in five teens suffer from clinical depression. This is a serious problem that calls for prompt, appropriate treatment. Depression can take several forms, including bipolar disorder (formally called manic-depression), which is a condition that alternates between periods of euphoria and depression. Depression can be difficult to diagnose in teens because adults may expect teens to act moody. Also, adolescents do not always understand or express their feelings very well. They may not be aware of the symptoms of depression and may not seek help.
These symptoms may indicate depression, particularly when they last for more than two weeks:
- Poor performance in school
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Sadness and hopelessness
- Lack of enthusiasm, energy or motivation
- Anger and rage
- Overreaction to criticism
- Feelings of being unable to satisfy ideals
- Poor self-esteem or guilt
- Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
- Restlessness and agitation
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Substance abuse
- Problems with authority
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol or become sexually promiscuous to avoid feelings of depression. Teens also may express their depression through hostile, aggressive, risk-taking behavior. But such behaviors only lead to new problems, deeper levels of depression and destroyed relationships with friends, family, law enforcement or school officials.” For more information from Dr. Framingham check out PsychCentral.com (click the logo above).
Has your child been treated for a major depressive disorder in an in-patient psychiatric facility? Has the treatment created a financial burden on your family and you’re having trouble figuring out how to pay for college? We offer collegiate scholarships to kids who’ve been affected by a behavioral health disorder. For more information, contact us www.jcrunyonfoundation.org!