Depression can affect anyone at any age. In fact, there was a recent article in Psychology Today that reported on the suicide of a 51 year old mother who had lived with mental illness most of her life.
Research reveals that untreated mental illness, particularly depression, is the number one cause of suicide. This is true of adolescents as well. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there were 38,3641 suicides (teens and adults both) reported in 2010, which makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. For adolescents only, the suicide rate in 2010 was at 10.5%.
Although the suicide rate for teens has been steady in recent years (versus growing), teen depression continues to be a common mental illness among teens. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately, 8% of teens meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. One in five teens have experienced depression at some point in their teenage years. NAMI also points out that in clinical settings, such as group homes, hospitals, or rehabilitative centers, as many as 28 percent of teens experience depression.
The trouble for most parents is how to distinguish depression from the troubles of being a teenager. Many children will display a difference in behavior and mood around the ages of 11 or 12, during their pre-pubescent years. Not knowing what’s normal in regards to your child’s mental health can be difficult. However, one thing to note is that a teen might go through ups and downs because that is natural during this stage of life; but when you see that an adolescent is not able to function, either at home, school, or work, then there is certainly cause for concern and teen depression treatment may be necessary.
Causes of Depression
However, whether you can confirm your worries or not, it is always best to err on the side of caution. You can begin by doing some research, learning more about teen depression and its causes. For instance, here are some common causes of depression:
- The death of a loved one.
- A divorce, separation, or breakup of a relationship.
- A serious illness.
- A terminal illness.
- A serious accident.
- Chronic physical pain.
- Intense emotional pain.
- Loss of hope.
- Being victimized (domestic violence, rape, assault, etc).
- Physical abuse.
- Verbal abuse.
- Sexual abuse.
- Unresolved abuse (of any kind) from the past.
- “trapped” in a situation perceived as negative.
- Feeling that things will never “get better.”
- Feeling helpless.
- Serious legal problems, such as criminal prosecution or incarceration.
- Feeling “taken advantage of.”
- Inability to deal with a perceived “humiliating” situation.
- Inability to deal with a perceived “failure.”
- Alcohol abuse.
- Drug abuse.
- A feeling of not being accepted by family, friends, or society.
- A horrible disappointment.
- Feeling as though the expectations of self or others were not met.
- Low self-esteem.
Typically, suicide discussed in the media focuses on young adults, versus the elderly or middle-aged adults. For this reason, the amount of resources that are available to learn more about depression are plentiful. One example is the 26-minute video, titled More Than Sad, put out by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Dr. Ralph E. Cash, President, National Association of School Psychologists describes the movie in this way:
More Than Sad teaches the signs and symptoms of depression, encourages teens to seek help for depression from a trusted adult, and demystifies treatment. The program is engaging, based on sound principles, and sensitive to cultural differences. I recommend it highly.
If you have any concern at all about a depressed child, seek the assistance of a mental health professional. Depression is the number one cause of suicide.
Prunchno, Rachel, Ph.D. “All in the Family.” Suicide Is Tragic at Any Age: Mental Illness and Caregiving Across the Generations. Psychology Today, 5 Mar. 2014. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
“Teen Depression: A Guide for Parents, Learn the Signs and How You Can Help Your Teen.” Help Guide. HelpGuide, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2014.
Caruso, Kevin. “Suicide Causes.” Suicide.org. Suicide.org., n.d. Web. 09 Mar. 2014.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. More Than Sad: Teen Depression. , n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2014. http://www.morethansad.org