The teenage years are the time of life when we are most vulnerable to depression. The main part of a person's mental and physical development takes place at this stage. As the number of teenagers affected by depression is increasing in our society, it is important that you should know the signs and take action immediately.
What Causes Depression in Teens?
In modern times, too many responsibilities are imposed on teenagers that most of them fail to handle properly. It is a period of transition from a child's life to an adult's life. A number of factors affect their mental health at this stage of life such as decisions about the future, their relationships with peers and society, romantic relationships, and social responsibilities.
All these put extra pressure on their emotional health making them more susceptible to depression. According to a study, almost 20% of teenagers will suffer from depression at some time. But, only a very small number are identified with the condition. So, help reaches very few of them.
Signs of Teenage Depression
Although teenage depression symptoms are very similar to adult depression, the expression will be very different. When adults are depressed, they will be in a sad mood, whereas teenagers will show anger and irritability.
Usually, a diagnosis is made based on the nine major symptoms of depression. If a person presents with a depressed mood along with four symptoms, then they are suspected of having depression. This is then, correlated with many other factors affecting teenagers to reach a conclusion. The nine major symptoms are:
1. Depressed mood. For children and adolescents, this may be irritable mood.
2. A significantly reduced level of interest or pleasure in most or all activities.
3. A considerable loss or gain of weight (change of weight for 5% or more in a month when not dieting). This may also be an increase or decrease in appetite. For children, they may not gain an expected amount of weight.
4. Difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia), or sleeping more than usual (hypersomnia).
5. Behavior that is agitated or slowed down.
6. Feeling fatigued, or diminished energy.
7. Thoughts of worthlessness or extreme guilt.
8. Reduced ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions.
9. Frequent thoughts of death or suicide, or attempt of suicide.
Teenagers will also be vulnerable to self mutilation, suicide attempts, violent behavior, and problems at school. They may even run away from home. When they are depressed, teens will not have the ability to cope well with problems and tackle the consequences.
How to Recognize the Signs of Teen Depression
Often, depression in teenagers can be identified by their behavior:
- Most of them will not have any interest in mingling with family and friends.
- They will not be able to concentrate on anything, whether it is studies or sports.
- Also, they look very sad and unhappy all the time.
- Often, they spend most of the time alone thinking about their failures in life.
- They won't be able to face criticism from anyone and will get irritated very easily. Often, these kids are labeled rebellious, instead of finding out what the real problem is.
Adults have better abilities at hiding their depression, but teenagers don't. So, it can be easy to recognize the signs.