Teen Depression: What Might Create A Slump In Adolescence
Depression during adolescence is somewhat common. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately, 8% of teens meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. Across the length of adolescence, one in five teens have experienced depression at some point in their teenage years. NAMI also points out that in clinical settings, such as group homes, hospitals, or rehabilitative centers, as many as 28 percent of adolescents experience teen depression.
Although, statistics report that female teens are about twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression as boys, what is more accurate is that girls are more likely to report their depressed symptoms. This has had an effect on statistics in recent years.
Nonetheless, if you’re a teen struggling with sadness or a depressed mood, you might want to know the various factors that might contribute to your emotional state. With this information, you can make different choices, find the support you need, or talk to your parents about what you’ve learned.
Sometimes, something as simple as a physiological illness can cause teen depression. If you learn that you have a form of cancer, for example, your emotional state will no doubt be affected. Certainly stress at school and the feeling that you can’t meet the demands being placed on you can have influence on your psychological well being. Add to this any unrealistic academic expectations that your parents have of you and you might feel even more incapable or powerless to meet all of the requests made by parents and teachers. If you were recently in a relationship that broke up, this can play a very substantial role in your emotional state. Because adolescence is a time for searching for identity and a sense of self, a breakup can easily and significantly affect this process.
Furthermore, adolescence is an interesting time of life because it is often an age where unresolved issues from childhood resurface for a teen. If there was childhood abuse, physical or sexual, or neglect, these will tend to show up again in some form. Also, most depressed children come from homes where there is some sort of dysfunction. It could be, for instance, that your parents aren’t very communicative, or that one of your family members has an addiction, or that your emotional and psychological needs were ignored and instead your parents stole the limelight. For instance, your father is never around; your mother is buried in books; and your siblings are off living their own lives now. You feel alone in your own life, trying to figure it all out during one of the most challenging times of growth. Lastly, a loss of a family member, such as a grandparent or parent, can clearly lead to symptoms of depression.
What’s even more challenging is that coping mechanisms in adolescence are not as well developed in teens. Healthy adults who have already been through a variety of experiences and have learned what works and does not work for them have cultivated healthy coping mechanisms. You’re still finding those that work and haven’t had the opportunity to test them out. Sadly, many teens are discovering unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking to avoid emotions or using drugs to cope with intense feelings.
If you think that any of the above applies to you, perhaps take a look at the symptoms below. These are the typical signs of depression:
- Loss of an ability to enjoy things
- A depressed mood
- Loss of interest in activities
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal thoughts
- Poor concentration
- Poor memory
- Slow thinking
- Loss of motivation
- Sleep disturbance – insomnia / hypersomnia
- Appetite disturbance – weight loss/gain
Of course, if you see depression as a possibility, find an adult to talk to – a parent, a teacher, a school counselor. Then, the next best thing is to find your way to a mental health professional who can assess, diagnose, and treat your condition.
– By Robert Hunt
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