All signs of teenage depression are a serious problem that impacts all aspects of a teenager’s life. If left untreated, depression in a young person can lead to problems at school and at home, drug problems, violence, and even suicide. Depression can destroy a teenager’s personality and cause insurmountable sadness, hopelessness, or resentment.
Adolescents face many forms of stress, whether through changes to puberty or what they want to do with their lives. The transition from a child’s life to an adult’s life can also bring conflict with parents as teenagers want independence.
Rates of clinical depression are low in childhood and early adolescence but increase significantly in late adolescence (about 17%).
Young people often have only their parents, teachers, or friends to count on and take into account their malaise to find the solutions they need.
About 5% of adolescents would be depressed, regardless of gender. After 15 years, girls are twice as exposed to this pathology.
In nearly two-thirds of cases (60%), these depressive symptoms are associated with greater than average anxiety. Long neglected, depression in children and adolescents is now better taken into account: it must be treated quickly and effectively not to leave traces once the adolescent has reached the aging adult.
Causes of the Teenage Depression
Disturbing events, a family history of depression, a lack of family support, strict discipline, and a negative attitude to oneself, the world, and the future can all contribute to depression.
Dysfunctions in the brain’s communication systems, particularly those affecting serotonin, can contribute to both depression and suicide among young people.
Contributing factors to suicidal risk in adolescents include signs of teenage depression and other mental illnesses, alcohol and drug abuse, interpersonal and family conflict.
It is often a combination of factors (as in adults) that link health, certain events, family history, environment, genetic factors. We find mainly:
* Separation or divorce of parents or relatives
* The death of a loved one (person, animal)
* Education with a negative view of the world
* Difficulties of social relations
* Psychiatric history in the family
* History of depression in the family
* Move (house)
* School failure, sports, staff…
* Personal dreams difficult to reach.
Triggering or Precipitating Factors
The short-term triggers of depression can also be compared to two sides of a coin. It may be the loss of a loved one, relational conflict, or a change in the life situation. Even positive life events such as a change of residence or passing an exam can trigger a depressive episode.
At the neurobiological level, changes in the level of certain hormones, such as stress hormones (cortisol) may be triggers.
Vulnerability and Resilience Factors
Psychosocial factors, as well as neurobiological factors, may be responsible for a greater vulnerability to a disorder. Traumatic experiences or abuse during childhood are examples of psychosocial factors that may play a role in the subsequent development of a disorder, while a stable childhood environment may protect against it.
It is also known that inherited genetic factors influence the increase of vulnerability or, on the contrary, the creation of resilience. For example, they can decrease or increase the proportion of neurotransmitters in the brain and thereby increase or decrease the risk of a disorder.
Maintaining and Healing Factors
Long-term psychosocial difficulties may contribute to the maintenance of depression, while appropriate and intensive social support can lead to a faster resolution of the disorder.
Interaction of Factors
Often an interaction between several factors increases vulnerability to a disorder and plays a role in triggering and maintaining depression. It is also possible that a depressive episode occurs without psychosocial or neurobiological triggers, with no apparent cause.
Symptoms of Teenage Depression
Adolescent depression often takes a masked form and may, if not identified in time, be brutally revealed by a suicide attempt.
Depression can be expressed by provocative behaviors: drug or alcohol abuse, running away, delinquency, sudden school disinvestment, self-mutilation, eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia). The girls complain more about somatic disorders (stomach pain, insomnia, back pain (low back pain) while boys tend to suffer aggression or asocial behavior.
Symptoms and Signs of Teenage Depression
* Sadness, no confidence in the future
* Irritability, anger, hostility
* Want to cry frequently
* Cut bridges with friends or family
* No longer interested in doing his usual activities
* Changes in diet and sleep pattern
* Sense of guilt, low self-esteem
* Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
* Fatigue or lack of energy
* Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
* Suicidal thoughts or thoughts about death
Depression in youth can take very different forms of depression in adults. The following symptoms are more common in adolescents than adults:
Irritability or anger repeated. Irritability, more than sadness, is often the dominant mood in young people with depression. A depressed teenager may be easily hostile, frustrated, or inclined to be angry.
Unexplained pains. Young people with signs of teenage depression often complain of pain such as headaches or stomach upset. If a physical examination does not reveal a medical origin to these pains, they are probably a depression.
Great sensitivity to criticism. Depressed adolescents suffer from low self-esteem, making them very vulnerable to criticism, rejection, and failure.
Taking the distance from some people. While adults tend to isolate themselves when depressed, teens generally stay in touch with friends at least. However, young people with depression will be less likely to want to socialize than before, will start to break away from their parents, and start dating new types of people (sometimes infrequent).
The diagnosis is not so easy to put, adolescence being, by definition, a pivotal period during which one rebels and one is often “badly in his skin”, in conflict with the society and the close relations.
Young people often cannot get out of a vicious circle of different fears and feelings of not feeling understood without outside help. Teachers, parents, and therapists must take the situation seriously when children or young people give them their fears, feelings of worthlessness, or despair. If these adults were not able to help them, young people should at least know places, Internet addresses, and phone numbers where they can go: in the cities, the psychiatric service for children and adolescents.
Make an Appointment with the Family Doctor
Immediately make an appointment for the child with the doctor to find out if he is suffering from depression. Prepare to give the doctor all the details about his symptoms, the date of their appearance, their impact on his daily life … The doctor will also need to know if there has been a history of depression among the family or the family. relatives, or a history of any other mental disorder.
The doctor will perform a complete physical examination and blood tests to find out if the child’s symptoms have a medical origin. He may be able to ask the child if he has already abused alcohol or drugs if he has sleep problems or eating disorders.
How to Get Rid of Depression? From the first alert, the teenager must be able to speak with a specialist (doctor or therapist), who will set up a quality medical follow-up. Thus, the emphasis is on behavioral and cognitive therapies, whether they take place in a group, with relatives, or only between the adolescent and the therapist. If necessary, the young patient can follow a drug therapy based on the new generation of SSRIs, effective for the reuptake of serotonin.
Cognitive-behavioral therapies aim to change negative thoughts about oneself and the world in general.
Interpersonal therapies address common issues such as independence, parental detachment, peer pressure, and friendly relationships.
Other therapies may be aimed at improving relationships and trusting others, or improving social skills and family relationships.
Drug therapy can also help; it aims to restore the exchanges of neurotransmitters in the brain which, in the depressive phase, are altered.
Antidepressant drugs will sometimes be prescribed, in addition to psychotherapies. Specialists caution, however, that they should only be prescribed by physicians with experience in this area. They require follow-up and ongoing evaluation because adverse effects are not excluded, especially at the beginning of treatment.
Effects of Antidepressants
Antidepressant medications can have a positive effect especially in cases of severe depression. However, there are always risks and side effects associated with taking antidepressants. When it comes to treating young people with antidepressants, there are certain rules that parents need to know. Before doing anything, find out about the benefits and risks of antidepressants.
Antidepressants and Their Effects on the Brain of Adolescents
Antidepressants are first designed and tested for adults; their impact on the brains of much younger individuals is not yet fully identified. For example, some researchers are concerned about the effect of antidepressants like Prozac on brain development in children and adolescents.
The human brain develops exponentially at a very young age, and taking antidepressants can affect connections within the brain, especially the connections to stress, emotions, and regulation.
Antidepressants and Youth Suicide
Antidepressant medications may increase the risk of suicidal behavior and thoughts in some adolescents. The risk of suicide is particularly high during the first two months of treatment. Some young adults are even more at risk when taking antidepressants, especially those with bipolar disorder, who have family members with bipolar disorder, or who have already made suicide attempts.
Warning signs are the appearance of new symptoms or worsening of already existing symptoms such as agitation, irritability, or anger. Unusual behavioral changes must also be considered.
The Effects of Depression in Adolescents
Problems at school. Signs of teenage depression often complain of pain such as headaches or stomach upset. can cause energy loss and difficulty concentrating. This can result in a lack of attention at school, lower grades, difficulty doing homework.
Fugues, leaving the house. Many young people in a state of depression run away from home or talk about running away. These attempts are usually a cry for help.
Abuse of alcohol or drugs. Teens can use alcohol or drugs thinking they can cure their depression themselves. Unfortunately, using this type of substance only makes things worse.
Low self-esteem. Depression can increase the lack of self-confidence and the feeling of being useless.
Eating disorders. Anorexia, bulimia, and yo-yo effects are often signs of latent depression.
Internet addiction. Teens can spend their day on the Internet to escape their problems. However, the intensive use of the computer only reinforces their isolation and eventually reinforces the depression.
The danger of social networks. Potential harassment is present on social networks. Young people who are victims are almost three times more likely to attempt suicide.
Self-mutilation. Cutting or burning yourself or any other kind of self-injury are almost always associated with depression.
Imprudent behavior. Depression can often take the form of dangerous or unconscious behavior. For example, this includes high-speed driving or deliberately unprotected sex.
Violence. Sometimes depressed adolescents – usual boys in this case – are violent.
Suicide. Teens who are seriously affected by depression think or talk about suicide attempts. Suicidal thoughts or suicidal behavior must always be taken very seriously, these call for help.
Some Factors May Protect Against Depression and Teen Suicide:
* Personal adaptation;
* Tolerance to frustration;
* The ability to cope with situations;
* Positive expectations for the future;
* The sense of humor ;
* Healthy and positive family relationships;
* Education and information are important for treating depression.
How to Help the Child to Manage and Cure His Depression?
The most important thing parents of depressed teenagers can do is let them know they are there to listen and help them. Now, more than ever, the child needs to know what he means to them and take care of him.
Offer your support. Make him understand that you are there for him at all times. Do not harass him with questions (teens do not like to feel smug), but make him feel that you are ready to provide all the help you can if he needs it.
Show yourself understanding. Living with a depressed young person can be difficult and tiring. At times, you may feel exhausted or rejected. During this time, it is important to remember that your child is not doing it intentionally and is suffering. Do your best to be patient and understanding.
Encourage him to exercise. Encourage your child to stay active. Exercise and sport can greatly relieve the symptoms and signs of teenage depression. Find a way to incorporate it into your schedule.
Encourage him to go out. Isolation makes depression even more difficult, encourage your child to see friends and make an effort to socialize. Suggest that you take him somewhere with his friends or suggest extracurricular activities that might interest him, such as sports or drawing classes.
Show yourself involved in the treatment. Make sure your child is following all the treatment instructions and is doing well at his therapy appointments. It is especially important for your child to respect the dosages of medications that have been prescribed. Watch for changes in your behavior and call the doctor if the symptoms of depression seem to be getting worse.
Learn about depression. Read as much as you can about depression so that you are an “expert” on the subject. The more you know, the more you will feel equipped to help a young person with depression.
Also, encourage your child to look for information about signs of teenage depression. Learning about their own condition can help depressed teens realize they are not alone and better understand what they are experiencing. As long as you give the best of yourself to help your child, you are doing a good job.