Teens and Recognizing Depression

Teens and Recognizing DepressionThe Mayo Clinic defines teen depression as a serious medical condition that causes persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities. Depression affects how a teen thinks, feels and behaves, and the condition makes functioning on a day-to-day basis quite difficult. Depression in teens is one of the leading causes of drug abuse, addiction and suicide in young people. As adolescents try to manage their symptoms with drugs or alcohol, they become more and more dependent upon the substances simply to get through the day. Peer pressure, poor self-image, a lack of self-esteem and difficult home environments can all contribute to teen depression. Young people who have a family history of depression are at high risk of developing the disorder than those who do not. Learn the signs and symptoms of depression in teenagers can help parents, caregivers and educators identify problems and get help before things spiral out of control.

Emotional Changes and Teen Depression

Because the teenage years are full of both physical and emotional changes, identifying depression in teens can be a challenging task. Although emotional changes in adolescents are fairly common, it is important to recognize when these changes are outside of what is normal. The Mayo Clinic lists the following emotional signs as indications that your teen may be struggling with depression:

  • Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason
  • Irritability, frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Loss of interest in or conflict with family and friends
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame/criticism
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

The following issues may mean your loved one struggles with depression. So seek help to address them.

Changes in Behavior due to Depression

Changes in behavior can also strongly indicate that your teen is struggling with depression. If your child is generally happy and you notice that she is withdrawing from friends or favorite activities, then she may have a problem with this debilitating issue. Helpguide.org, a nonprofit guide to mental health and wellbeing, lists the following behavioral changes as signs of depression in a teen:

  • Changes in appetite, such as sudden weight gain or loss, decreased appetite or increased cravings for food
  • Changes in sleep patterns, like sleeping too much or insomnia
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Inability to concentrate; poor school performance
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Neglected appearance, lack of personal hygiene
  • Risky behaviors or self harm, such as cutting
  • General lack of enthusiasm or motivation
  • Drug or alcohol abuse

If your teenager struggles with any of these symptoms for more than a few days, then it is time to get help.

Teen Depression and Substance Abuse

A recent Duke University study found that teens who are properly treated for depression reduce their chances of abusing drugs later in life. Of 192 adolescents studied, only 10 percent of those whose depression receded after 12 weeks of treatment later abused drugs. While 25 percent of those whose treatment did not work abused drugs at some point after treatment ended. Although the study found no relationship between treatment and later alcohol abuse, it did find a clear relationship between drug addiction and teen depression.

Teens who struggle with depression are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol than their peers who do not have issues with this illness. As teens search for ways to escape or feel better, drugs often seem like the best choice or the only way out for them. Unfortunately, for many of those same teens, depression and drug addiction can quickly lead to accidental drug overdose or even suicide.

The Roadmap to Healing Teenage Depression

Because many symptoms of teenage depression can be associated with physical problems, the first place to look for help is with your child’s pediatrician. Doctors who specialize in the care of children and adolescents can rule out viruses, infections, vitamin deficiencies or other conditions could account for sudden change in emotions or behavior in your teen. Once any physical issues are ruled out, your pediatrician can help direct your next steps as you seek appropriate psychological resources for your child. Psychologists who specialize in teen and adolescent issues can evaluate your child to develop a treatment plan that best addresses her struggles.

Find Help for Substance Abuse

Because teenage depression can quickly lead to substance abuse and addiction, it is important to identify the problem early and get help. If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, then know that we are here for you. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.