As a teen, you likely face many challenges. Sometimes those challenges can become overwhelming to the point where you cannot manage them on your own. For instance, let’s say a friend of yours commits suicide or there’s a death in the family, or you’re feeling the effects of an early childhood trauma, or perhaps there’s an addiction in the family.
Sometimes your internal state can start to become fuzzy, sullen, or confused. You might start to notice you can’t concentrate, you’re getting frequent headaches, and you can’t sleep at night. These are symptoms of teen depression, among others, that you may want to be aware of. Below are a list of common questions regarding depression and answers that may be useful.
What is depression?
Depression is a common and serious mental illness that comes with experiencing sad and anxious feelings. Sure, you might have these feelings naturally as a teen, but if they are persistent and ongoing, then depression might be the cause. Untreated depression is very serious since it can lead to suicide. It’s crucial that if you are concerned about depression to get the mental health support you need.
What are the symptoms of depression?
The following are symptoms of depression. If you experience some of these symptoms, it is highly recommended to contact a mental health professional.
- Anger and aggression, especially in male depressed teens
- Low self-esteem and high self-criticism, typical for female teens
- Extreme pessimism
- Confused and dysfunctional thinking
- High self-consciousness
- Irritable / depressed mood
- Loss of interest in activities
- Poor interpersonal problem solving and high stress from close relationships
- Antisocial behavior, particularly in males
- Sleep disturbance – insomnia / hypersomnia
- Appetite disturbance – weight loss/gain
- Difficulty coping with stress from relationships, family environment, or depressed parents
- Symptoms of other mental illnesses, which are common to co-exist with teen depression, such as ADHD, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders.
- Suicidal thoughts
- Poor concentration
- Poor memory
- Slow thinking
Are there various forms of depression?
Yes, the field of psychology recognizes three major types of depression:
Major Depression – This mental illness has symptoms that interfere with daily living such as eating, sleeping, school performance, and studying. Some teens with major depression might have one period of depression in their lifetime, while for others periods of depression may be ongoing or return periodically.
Dysthymia – A milder form of depression is a dysthymia. It is a chronic but low-level experience of depression, usually accompanied by irritability and an inability to experience joy. It includes the above symptoms but in a milder form. It can last longer and episodes of dysthymia can range from months to years.
Minor Depression – This form of depression is less severe than the other two illnesses mentioned and its symptoms are less severe. However, symptoms are present enough to recognize a problem, and if untreated, it can lead to major depression.
What causes depression?
Depression does not have one cause. There are many factors that can contribute to this mental illness, including genes, environment, a stressful situation, or trauma.
How can I find out if I have depression?
The first step is to talk to an adult you trust. This could be one of your parents, a teacher, or a school counselor. He or she can help you make an appointment with a mental health professional. At that appointment, you’ll be asked for a list of your symptoms, the mental health history of your family, your medical history, any use of drugs and alcohol, and whether you’ve ever had thoughts of suicide. With that and other relevant information, a diagnosis can be made. Teens don’t be shy about sharing information. What you share is confidential and is used to arrive at an accurate diagnosis.
This article is meant to be useful and support you in getting the help you might need. It’s the first article in a series of two. The next article will continue with common questions and answers about teen depression treatment.