If you scan the Internet or go to a local bookstore, you’ll see plenty of information about teen mental illness, and depression in general. Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses that teens tend to experience. And sadly, if that depression is not treated, then suicide attempts are likely to follow. Because suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens, there is a wealth of information about depression and suicide available today.
Despite this wealth of information, there are four critical facts about teen depression that adults should be aware of. In fact, it’s important that not only parents, teachers, and school administration know about these facts, but also teens themselves. In fact, it would be important for any teen who believes that he or she may be struggling with depression to learn as much as possible about the illness.
Understanding Depression In Teens
Four facts to keep in mind about teen depression are:
There is no typical picture of depression. Not all teens with depression are going to look alike. Sure, there are some classic symptoms and, for this reason, there are some typical warning signs that adults of teens can look for. However, if you have a sense that he or she may be experiencing depression and just because your teen isn’t displaying the typical signs shouldn’t be a reason for not having your teen assessed.
Depression for teens is not moodiness. Teens experience moodiness as a regular part of adolescence. It’s a natural symptom of all the changes they are experiencing. They are growing psychologically, emotionally, physically, and socially. For this reason, teens might experience a swing of moods from time to time. Also, teens generally sleep a lot. Although this might also be taken as a symptom of depression, it’s natural for teens to want to sleep long hours. In fact, teens need 9 to 10 hours of sleep versus the 8 hours that adults need. So, what is the difference between depression and the typical experience of adolescence? When depression sets in, there might be a large swing of moods, which may happen regularly for a significant period of time. Also, although typically depression is the consistent experience of a low mood, feelings of agitation and irritability are common symptoms of depression in teens.
Teens might experience co-occurring disorders. It’s not always the case, but adults should know that sometimes teens can experience more than one mental illness at a time. For instance, some teens might experience depression as well as struggle with an addiction. Or they might have anxiety while also struggling with depression. In fact, anxiety and depression are closely related. It’s common to believe that one illness is going to explain the symptoms that a teen might be experiencing. But that is not always that case.
Depression is treatable. With the right medication combined with therapy, a teen’s mood, can stabilize and, over time, he or she can return to a healthy level of functioning at school, home, and work. It’s important to know is that depression is best treated with a combination of both medication and therapy. Medication alone is not a thorough treatment plan. Therapy can facilitate a teen’s understanding for the need of medication treatment, and it can even improve the effectiveness of that medication. Both treatment forms are necessary for a safe, effective recovery from depression.
Depression Can Lead to Other Circumstances
It’s important that depression is assessed by a psychologist or therapist if you believe that your teen is experiencing depression. This illness can lead to the following difficult circumstances:
Drug Use – Often, drugs are way for teens to escape, which might be the best coping mechanism they have. Drugs provide a high and can make life feel different than the depressive symptoms teens are used to feeling.
Poor School Performance – Another symptom of depression is lack of concentration. Without the ability to concentrate performing well academically can become challenge.
Social Issues – Depression also comes with feelings of worthlessness, frequent validation, and attention from others. These can create dysfunctional and risky relationships, vulnerability to fall under peer pressure, and social withdrawal.
Reckless Behavior – Teens who are not emotionally stable might engage in risky behavior providing them with a means for feeling different and escaping their internal experience. This can lead to making risky choices, such as unprotected sex.
If you suspect teen depression, contact a mental health professional today.