Teens and Recognizing Depression

Teens and Recognizing Depression

The teenage years are typically associated with intense hormonal changes that produce varying moods, thoughts and actions. In some cases, mood swings can develop into more severe problems, such as clinical depression. Due the nature of teenage life, it can often be difficult for parents and other loved ones to differentiate between actual depression and typical mood swings associated with this age. Learn how to identify this problem so you can help a loved one when she needs help.

It is important to understand how depression works, but you must also know what the warning signs of it are, because this problem can produce suicidal thoughts and behaviors. To help you understand the severity of the disorder and how it affects teenagers, study the following statistics on teenage depression given by Psych Central:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of teenage deaths, which stems from untreated or undertreated depression
  • The average age when depression begins is 14 years old
  • 20 percent of teenagers will have had depression at some point by the time they reach 20 years of age
  • 70 percent of depressed teenagers will improve through therapy and medication treatment
  • 80 percent of depressed teenagers do not receive proper treatment for their depression

On top of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, untreated depression among teenagers can cause difficulty in numerous other areas of life. Substance abuse, academic failure, bullying and eating disorders are all common occurrences among untreated depressed teenagers.

It is important to recognize the warning signs of depression among teenagers. If the following symptoms last for more than two weeks, then your loved one may have clinical depression:

  • A belief that life is meaningless
  • Empty or irritable mood
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Withdrawal from social and family life
  • Consistent trouble with relationships
  • Significant change in appetite or weight
  • Excessive late night activities
  • Too much or too little sleep
  • Physical agitation
  • Overly critical comments about himself
  • Frequent absences from school
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fixation on death

Many of these symptoms are also common from normal teenage changes, but it is important to receive a professional diagnosis if these symptoms are recurring. It is also important to know one’s family history of depression, as depressive symptoms run in the family and can predispose children to the disorder. If someone indeed has a family history of mental illness, depression or suicide, then it is imperative to receive a proper diagnosis from a trained, experienced professional. If someone has a family history of depression or suicide, then it can be beneficial for a family to seek education and training together about these problems, even when no one in the family currently presents troubling symptoms.

The Help Guide elaborates on teen depression by pointing out that the problems and mood changes that teenagers normally deal with are often balanced out by healthy friendships and success in school. While moodiness can be common, teenage depression is much different, and it will be difficult to miss for parents and loved ones who are looking for it. Depression is a significant personality change that is characterized by intense sadness, despair or anger. Adults are more equipped to recognize and seek help for problems in their own lives, but teenagers often depend upon parents or loved ones to recognize their problems and to get them help.

It is important to note that not all depressed teens present a significant change in sadness or withdrawal from people and activities. In some cases, depressed teens present their depressive symptoms more through increased irritability, aggression and rage. The more drastic and longer the symptoms are, the more likely they are to indicate real depression.

Teenage depression also often presents itself in significantly different ways than adult depression. Depression in teenagers often presents symptoms such as anger, unexplained aches and pains, extreme sensitivity to criticism and withdrawal from people who are less common than depressed adults. The warning signs of teenage depression are sometimes unique, and some rare signs of depression include the following list:

  • Running away from home
  • Internet addiction
  • Violence
  • Substance abuse
  • Reckless behavior

Teenagers often present suicidal warning signs in varying levels. Some depressed teenagers will begin with joking about suicide or excessively talking about it. The warning signs often escalate to more attention grabbing efforts, such as talking seriously about how things would be better if they were dead and ensuring that people heard them. Lastly, warning signs can escalate even further to her giving away personal possessions, saying goodbye to friends and family and seeking out weapons or other tools for committing suicide.

Teenage depression is often congruent with substance abuse and addiction, which makes it all the more important for teenagers to receive proper diagnoses followed by adequate treatment. Treatment is essential to avoiding the numerous health risks of both depression and substance abuse or addiction.

Help Finding Professional Treatment for Substance Abuse or Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression and you would like professional help, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours a day to help you find a treatment program that will work for you. Do not let a struggle with depression keep you from living a full and healthy life; call us today for instant support.