Teenagers and Depression

by Jessica B. June 14th, 2012 | Mental Health
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Teens these days are under endless pressure, academically and socially. The biggest difference from when I was young is the Internet. With 24 hour access to friends, a social network, and the ability for things to spiral out of control on a global level, teenagers can have a difficult time figuring out their own identity.

Teenage suicide is one of the leading causes of death among teens, often ranking third or fourth depending on age. This is a sign that teen depression needs to be taken seriously and not just dismissed as drama, an attitude, or even a bout of stubbornness.

Here are a few symptoms you can look for if you suspect your child is suffering from depression. Many of them match other teen problems, such as drug abuse, so a good rule of thumb if you see someone struggling, would be to reach out to a professional.

1) Change in grades – Any significant change in grades is always a warning sign.

2) Sleeping more or not sleeping enough – A change in sleeping patterns. This is not just typical teenage sleeping late, but sleeping most of the day away and not being interested in getting out of bed, or struggling with insomnia for a longer period of time.

3) Change in eating patterns – If you notice your teen not eating very much or hoarding food, this could be a sign.

4) Withdrawal – If your child suddenly pulls away not just from family, but also from friends.

5) Lack of interest in activities – If your teen is no longer interested in things that he or she used to enjoy.

Many of these symptoms could be described as ‘typical moody teenage behavior,’ but with depression you will usually see a combination of them. If you are a little unsure, it is always better to meet with a professional.

Treatment of teen depression is a little controversial. Some antidepressants do have a higher rate of side effects in teens than in adults. For this reason, caution must be used in prescribing pain medications. Traditional talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy can be coupled with antidepressants or used alone.  You may find that depression research help could be useful for your family.

If your teen doesn’t want to speak with a professional, you can reach out yourself and get some ideas of how to work with him or her. Speak with school staff as well to find out what types of counseling or assistance, such as DepressionConnect, is available, and if someone can reach out to your child independent of the family.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.