You would think that teenagers have nothing to get depressed about – they are young, healthy, and they have everything to look forward to – but you could not be more wrong. Teen depression is probably the most prevalent mental health disorder in the world, and it is on a rise. More than 20 percent of teens will face some form of teen depression before they reach adulthood, and 5 percent of teenagers may face major depression before adulthood. According to researchers, most teenagers will also experience more than one major episode before adulthood, and the episodes may last as long as 8 months.
These Are Worrying Statistics
The problem is that gender, social background, race, income level or schools and achievements do not eliminate teen depression; it can affect any child at any time. There are many misconceptions about teen depression, and most parents need to understand that times have changed. Teenagers now have to balance a difficult academic life with a social life while still developing their own distinct personality. Occasional bad moods and sulks are to be expected, but parents should view long-term mood upsets with serious caution. Although teenagers are very savvy, they may still not understand what they are going through.
For example, while teen girls do report a higher incidence depression, the research does not back this up. Rather, researchers
feel that teen girls are more likely to reach out for treatment, while teen boys are more likely to hide their depression due to social expectations. As a result, parents have to be aware of the most common factors that precipitate depression in teenagers:
- Loss of friends
- Previous episodes of depression
- Family history of depression
- Untreated problems like addiction, anti-social behavior, and anxiety
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Depression
The teen years are naturally difficult. Children are transitioning from being children to adults, and these critical years are important for developing a personality and character. Sometimes, social and personal events may overwhelm the child physical, socially and mentally leading to depression. Parents should not think that teen depression is critically different from adult depression and it has significant symptoms that may be easy to pick up.
- Constant irritation and anger
- Feelings of low self-worth and no interest in fun activities
- Sleeping too much
- Frequent unexplained headaches and other physical problems that may not be physiological present
- Rapid weight gain or weight loss
- Frequent crying jags or mood swings
- Poor academic or sports performance
- Suicide attempts or careless, life threatening behavior
Recognizing the Condition and Dealing with Teen Depression
Monitoring your child is the first step. If you suspect depression, prepare a food diary, a mood diary, and/or note down increasingly common symptoms in your child. The next step is getting in touch with a counselor just to rule out depression. You may have to share specific information about the teen to the doctor and the depression-screening counselor to start treatment.