Depression is often ignored. And perhaps it’s ignored for what appears to be a good reason – because it comes with a stigma, because it’s hard to tell anyone, because if your friends found out they might be judgmental. But, the truth is, if depression goes without being properly treated, it can get worse and lead to some harmful circumstances.
For instance, teen depression 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 you’re used to feeling.
Poor School Performance – Another symptom of depression is lack of concentration. Without the ability to concentrate and without feeling good about yourself, 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.
Poor Athletic Performance – The symptoms of low energy, irritability, poor concentration, and lack of confidence, common with depression, can lead to poor sports performance. As this declines, this might only facilitate a teen’s downward emotional spiral.
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. However, having unprotected sex and engaging in illegal activities can affect a teen’s life long-term.
These are only a few examples of the way depression can lead to poor outcomes. Sometimes, not feeling good on the inside can lead to finding ways to feel better – fast! However, the most dangerous result of untreated depression is suicide. Although it might be obvious, experts have made the connection between thoughts that commonly appear with depression and the desire to commit suicide. For instance, when you’re not feeling good about yourself and your life, which is a primary symptom of depression, thoughts about death are common and there is sometimes a strong enough disdain for your life that suicide starts to feel like an option.
Although suicide is difficult to predict, there are some signs that indicate that a teen might be contemplating it. Research shows that four out of five teens that attempt suicide give clear warning signs first. Some of these warning signs are:
- Talking About Dying
- A Change in Personality
- Change in Eating Habits
- Fear of Losing Control
- Low Self Esteem
- No Hope for the Future
- Threats of suicide—either direct or indirect.
- Verbal hints such as “I won’t be around much longer” or “It’s hopeless.
- Obsession with death.
- Overwhelming sense of guilt, shame or rejection.
- Putting affairs in order (for example, giving or throwing away favorite possessions).
- Sudden cheerfulness after a period of depression.
- Dramatic change in personality or appearance.
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
- Changes in school performance.
It should be noted that there is a difference between sadness, which is common during adolescence, and depression. For many teens, there will be periods of sadness during adolescence. Teenagers may experience discouragement, feelings of not fitting in, uncertainty about the future, an inability to meet the demands of parents and teachers, and this may result in a sullen mood. However, feeling sullen and feeling depressed are two different experiences.
Depression is a common mental illness among teens, but it’s different than feeling sad. It has clear physical symptoms such as irritability, guilt, loss of interest in activities, social withdrawal, suicidal thoughts, poor concentration, poor memory, indecision, slow thinking, loss of motivation, sleep disturbance, appetite disturbance, fatigue, and headaches.
Furthermore, as mentioned above, depression can put a teen in danger of taking his or her life and that requires the attention of a mental health professional. If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, or you suspect depression in someone, seek support today.