Why are There So Many with Teen Anxiety and Depression?

Today, teens and adults alike tend to have less sunshine and more computer light, less time with family and more time with strangers and co-workers, less real foods and more processed foods because they are too busy to make a meal. There seems to be a relationship between the growing urbanization of the world and the increase in mental illnesses.


Perhaps it is the inaccessible beaches and parks that are common to cities. Perhaps it is then the distance from nature, from others, and from oneself. In a city, adults and adolescents tend to stay focused on their individual lives, lost in their smart phones, and having their attention shift from one piece of technology to another. There’s no real connection that might be satisfying and psychologically nourishing.


In general, the prevalence of teen anxiety and depression are common and the rates of occurrence are only increasing. Some experts say that it is Western culture itself, which is focused more on productivity versus personal relationships. According to Suicide.Org, approximately 20% of tens experience depression before they reach adulthood and 10% to 15% of suffer from symptoms of depression at any one point in their adolescence.


Furthermore, because suicide is closely related to depression, suicide rates among teens can indicate the severity of increasing rates of depression in teens and adults. For instance, a teen takes his or her own life every 100 minutes. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 15 to 24. Sadly, only 30% of depressed teens are being treated for their psychological illness. Despite the severity in these statistics, teen anxiety disorders are in fact the most common type of psychological illness. According to Moretza and Karen Khaleghi, authors of the book Anatomy of Addiction, one in eight children are affected by anxiety disorders.


Those teens that are at more risk for anxiety and depression are:


  • Female teens that develop depression twice as often than men.
  • Abused and neglected teens.
  • Adolescents who suffer from chronic illness and other physical conditions.
  • Teens who have a family history of depression or mental illness.
  • Teen with untreated mental illness or addictions to alcohol or drugs.
  • Those with a history of trauma or other major life event such as a divorce in the family.


Some clinicians feel that the mental illnesses typically diagnosed for children, teens, and adults are indicative of our time. For instance, GAD might be the result of the collective anxiety that seems to lie just beneath the surface of society. Adults, and especially teens, who are already undergoing a psychologically stressful stage in life, have academic, family, occupational, and relational demands placed on them. The expectations of society, friends, family, teachers, peers, and co-workers can become overwhelming. At times, this overwhelm may not be overt but reveal itself through psychological symptoms that eventually become pervasive enough to become a mental illness.


The good news about all of this is that depression is treatable. With the right medication combined with therapy, an individual’s mood, whether teen or adult, 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 and teen anxiety.




Borchard, T. (2010). Why Are So Many Teens Depressed? Psych Central. Retrieved on June 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/04/why-are-so-many-teens-depressed/

Khaleghi, M. & Khaleghi, K. (2011). The Anatomy of Addiction. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan