The teenage years are supposed years you will never want to forget and will hopefully cherish for the rest of your life. However, some teenagers can fall into depression from being lonely, feeling tormented, and having too much on their plates.
Depression is a very common issue for teens, but it is very difficult to diagnose. Being young adults, hormones have a huge impact on their lives and their emotions; this may cause teens to have many negative feelings one minute, and be happy and joyful the next. When teen depression is a permanent, or long lasting negative feeling (usually sadness), or mix of negative emotions, it can be extremely dangerous and even lead to suicide.
Heredity and gender are influential in the likeliness of a teen showing signs of depression. Studies show that children who have a family history of depression, and teenage girls have a higher chance of suffering from depression than other teens. Although the teens in these categories have a higher chance of suffering from depression, studies show that about 10% to 15% of all teens will exhibit some symptoms of depression at any one time, and about 20 percent will experience depression before they reach adulthood.
When talking to Mrs. Smith, a counselor at , about teenage depression she said, “When a student is sent to us we just talk to them and ask what they think is causing their depression.” Being a teenager is overwhelming. Part of the growing up process for adolescents is becoming socially and economically independent. Friendships, peers, and relationships begin to play a big role in teenagers’ lives which helps them become more independent, but failure or problems in any of these areas can also lead to depression.
Most teens either get a job when they’re about sixteen years old, or are really involved in sports, academics, or a combination of these activities. Whereas these activities can be helpful in the maturing process of young adults’ lives, they can also bring a great deal of stress and pressure with them, leading to depression.
Whether it’s a friend, teacher or parent who is concerned about a teen who might be depressed, there are ways to tell whether depression is the issue.
Signs of Teen Depression
- Feeling helpless or lonely
- Increased irritability, anger, or hostility
- Decreased interest in activities; or inability to enjoy previously favorite activities
- Drawing away from friends
- Low self-esteem or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in eating habits or sleeping habits
- Drug abuse
- Disobedience towards authority figures, frequent absences from school or poor performance
- Suicidal thoughts or actions, self-injury and self-destructive behavior
- Being mournful and crying uncontrollably
- Persistent boredom and low energy
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
- Frequent headaches and stomachaches
- Low energy
If a teen shows one or more of these previous signs, there are ways to help. Yes, medication is an option, but the risks of medication may be a concern. Anti-depressants are required to carry a warning label about the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in young adults ages eighteen to twenty-four during initial treatment (generally the first one to two months) by the FDA. Not only do they increase the risk of suicidal attempts, but some researchers are concerned that they may interfere with normal brain development since they have been tested on and designed for adults.
When asked about teen depression, Mrs. Leopard, a teacher and counselor at Woodland High School, said, “Teachers usually alert us, and let us know there is a concern, and we try to help come up with ways to cope with it.” Even though depression is a medical condition that requires professional help, there are small ways to help overcome depression.
Ways to Cope With Depression
- Physical Activity: Activities such as running, jogging, walking, and riding a bike do not only help clear one’s mind, but also release endorphins into the body and encourage happiness.
- Eating Healthy: Having a bad diet can worsen depression due to the fact that it makes one feel tired and slow-moving. Healthy food allows more energy so one can be active.
- Avoid Isolation: Although being alone sometimes feels like a better option than being around people, it’s not necessarily the best choice. Being alone gives one the time to over think things and usually leads to a sour mood. It’s better to spend time with family and friends who make you feel positive and keep you active and entertained.
- Avoid Drugs: When depressed, the idea of alcohol and other drugs may be looked upon as the ‘escape’ from all the bad feelings, when, in fact, this isn’t true. The use of drugs and alcohol does not only worsen someone’s depression but is sometimes the cause of it.
- Talking to someone about it: Talking to someone about what the problem is can be very effective when dealing with depression.
Teen depression is a disorder that needs to be taken seriously. If you, or a friend, is suffering from teen depression, there is always someone who can answer questions and concerns, such as a school counselor, hotlines, and programs designed to help.