Written By | Dr Nazeeha Waseem
It’s natural for young people to experience “the blues” or suffer “melancholy” occasionally. We all feel sad or discouraged at times. And these reactions occur because of us not being able to cope with the hurdles of the world. The same goes for teenagers as well. Pubescence is always an unsettling time as many psychological, hormonal, emotional, and physical changes occur simultaneously.
Teen depression is a serious mental health disorder that results in a constant feeling of despair and a lack of interest in normal daily chores. It affects the normal thinking, behavior, and functional capabilities of a teenager. And can cause emotional as well as physical problems. Depression at this age of your life is quite common as many hormonal changes are taking place in your body and for the first time, you see and visualize what the world has to offer you. So, it is easy to observe why their mood swings like a suspended pendant. Teen depression can have long-lasting effects on one’s life and it’s a grave issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. It is not something that can be overcome with willpower as at this time of life, a person is not mature enough to understand the gravity of the underlying issue. Therefore, it requires proper medical and psychological counseling to topple this problem.
The causes of depression in adolescents
There are numerous causes of depression in teenagers. Irrational academic, social, and family expectations are the leading cause of dejection in adolescents. It creates a strong sense of rejection in the youth and can lead them to ultimate despair. They can develop a feeling of worthlessness and paucity over their grade in school. School performance, peer pressure, and family pressure can have a major effect on the normal mental working of a teenager. And this results in an overreaction by most teenagers. They feel that they do not belong here and the life is not fair to them. They feel exhausted and stressed out. They are unable to keep up with all this unnecessary pressure, resulting in them taking false steps in the form of suicide and self-harm.
And to make things worse, these minors are bombarded by some disturbing remarks from parents, friends, and society. All this further worsens their mental and psychological state.
Sometimes, juvenile depression also results from form environmental stress like needless noise pollution. But whatever the cause, teens need adult guidance whenever they are going through a constant period of lows in their life and if not corrected at the right time, it can lead to depression.
Signs and Symptoms of teen depression
Like adults, teenagers can have occasional mood swings, feel touchy, or become unusually sensitive to rejection and criticism. But if these moods last for more than a month or so, it’s a high chance that the young person is suffering from depression.
Depression signs and symptoms may vary among teenagers but often the juveniles with teen depression revert from their previous normal behavior and thinking, resulting in them being emotionally disconnected from their usual work at home, school, in social activities, and in other areas of life. They lack interest and have no motivation. They even become reserved, closing themselves in their bedroom and staying there for a long period of time without having any sort of interaction with other family members.
Teen with depressions may sleep excessively, have a change in eating habits, and sometimes may have an infectious thought of killing themselves or someone else.
Following are some more signs of depression in young minors that can help you in the detection of the problem though they may or may not exhibit all the signs.
- Feeling of desolation, that is accompanied by long crying spells with no apparent reason.
- A feeling of irritability and tetchiness.
- Complaints of headaches, backaches, and fatigue
- Frustration and annoyance over small matters
- Inability to concentrate.
- Inappropriate guilt.
- Feeling of worthlessness.
- Suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
- Difficulty in making decisions and fulfilling the responsibilities.
- Social Withdrawl.
- Lack of sleep or excessive sleep.
- Change in eating habits i.e lavish eating or losing interest in eating resulting in a significant weight gain or loss.
Diagnosis and treatment of Adolescent depression
Teen Depression is increasing day by day at an alarming rate worldwide. Recent studies results show that as many as one out of five teens suffers from the trouble of clinical depression. And this is a serious problem that requires prompt recognition as well as treatment. Teen depression is difficult to diagnose as adults may expect minors to be moody and act silly. In such cases, it is important that they note down any unusual activity or behavior exhibited by the juniors.
There are not any particular medical tests that can help detect depression in youngsters. Health care professionals conduct a series of interviews and psychological tests with the teen, their family members, and friends to determine whether he or she is suffering from depression or not.
The assessment of these interviews forms the basis of the severity of the illness. The Psychiatrist may look for some co-existing signs of anxiety and tension in the teen and manage the case accordingly. And if a teen is diagnosed with a mental illness, he should be given appropriate Psychotherapy and Cognitive-behavioral therapy that will enable the teen to change the negative motif of thinking and behavior and interact better with friends and society. Along with it, the teen may be prescribed some medications to relieve some of the signs and symptoms of depression.
Recent surveys have concluded that it is high time to pay extra attention to the anxiety and depression of adolescents worldwide. The cases of depression are increasing at an alarming rate and if we do not pay due heed to this matter, this problem may exaggerate in coming years. Therefore, it is recommended that along with the academic status, mental health should be developed early in the school settings using support strategies such as counseling, teaching life skills programs, and encouraging participation in extracurricular activities.
And if a teen suffers from depression, he should be given extra care, offer help and encourage to talk about his feelings. Pay attention and engage in a frank discussion with them. And if you observe any infectious behavior, immediately seek professional help.