Depression in teenagers is a serious disorder that can affect their overall well-being. As adolescents go through puberty, there is a tremendous change in their hormonal makeup, as well as an increase in their body and facial vulnerabilities.
Depression in teenagers can be treated, but it must be done early if the problem is to be addressed effectively. Symptoms of depression in teenagers often are similar to those in adolescents.
However, they tend to manifest themselves in various ways. Some self-harmful behaviour, such as burning or cutting, is uncommon in adults, but much more frequent in adolescents.
Teenagers who are depressed are also likely to experience increased irritability, which can lead to more social problems. Depression in teenagers can lead to more serious behavioural issues such as
- Tiredness and loss of energy
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite: decreased appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Agitation or restlessness: pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Frequent complaints of unexplained body aches and headaches, which may include frequent visits to the school nurse
- Social isolation
- Poor school performance or frequent absences from school
- Less attention to personal hygiene or appearance
- Angry outbursts, disruptive or risky behavior, or other acting-out behaviors
- Self-harm: cutting, burning, or excessive piercing or tattooing
- Making a suicide plan or a suicide attempt
Depression in teenager how to help
This is why it is important for parents to become aware of the problems that depression in teenagers can cause. If your teenager or child seems depressed or has self-harm tendencies, see your paediatrician for a full physical and mental health evaluation.
Depression can interfere with the teenager’s education and career ambitions. If your teenager self-harms because of their depression, consider removing them from any social group that may worsen their condition. If your teen uses drugs or alcohol, encourage your teenager to seek professional help.
Symptoms of Depression in teenagers
Some common symptoms of depression in teenagers and adolescents include
- Extreme sadness or excessive crying
- No interest in things that used to make them happy
- Trouble sleeping or staying awake
- No interest in hobbies or activities that were once enjoyed
- Constant negative self-talk
Depression in adolescents may also include physical symptoms such as
- Stomach pain
- Irregular heartbeats
- Changes in weight.
Some teenagers may engage in self-injurious behaviour such as hair pulling orbiting. Self-injurious behaviours may include cutting or wearing one’s hair.
Sign of depression in teenager
These are other factors that may increase the risk of depression in teenagers and adolescents. These include
- Changes in body weight
- Changes in body chemistry
- Hormonal changes
- Changes in brain chemistry
- Premature babies
- Low birth weight
- Having prolonged intrauterine infections are common risk factors for depression in teenagers
Also, the use of drugs or alcohol during the teenage years, abuse of substances such as
- Cigarettes and marijuana
- Having sexual intercourse with another teenager or adult
- Experiencing abusive sexual violence is associated with depression in teenagers and adolescents
Other symptoms of teenage depression are
- Decreased interest in activities that were once enjoyed
- Increased irritability
- Changes in appetite or sleep
- Unintentional weight loss
- Loss of interest in things that used to bring pleasure
In addition to the above symptoms, teens may also experience feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or sadness. Teenagers who experience these symptoms are not depressed. Instead, they are experiencing normal adolescent depression.
Symptoms of depression in teenagers or adolescents include the usual symptoms of this condition
- Low mood
- Increased anxiety
- Trouble sleeping
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Changes in appetite or physical appetite
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Self-injurious behavior
- Decreased interest in hobbies or activities that used to bring pleasure
- Decreased interest in social activities
- Changes in eating habits (too little/too much)
However, some teenagers or adolescents may also have increased levels of anxiousness or guilt when it comes to making appropriate decisions. Also, some teenagers or adolescents may show signs of irritability.
Treatment for depression in teenager
Treatment of depression in teenagers or adolescents may include
- Individual and/or group counseling
- Social skills training
- Life coaching
- Nutritional supplementation
- Combination of therapies
It is important for adolescents and teenagers to feel comfortable disclosing any problems they are having in their teenage years (including eating disorders), as peer support is a critical factor that can help reduce or eliminate depression.
If you are a teenager or a parent of a teenager who may be experiencing any of these problems, talk with your teenager. Make sure he or she is not only getting help but is being treated for the issues that are causing the problems.
Some teenagers or adolescents may have changes in brain chemistry as a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. If this is the case, then treatment should be sought. Teenagers and adolescents can benefit from treatment for depression, even if there is no current depression or suicidal tendency
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