Analysis of Teenagers’ Depression: Basic Knowledge, Possible Causes, Effects, and Treatments
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’, than to say ‘My heart is broken’” (C.S. Lewis, 1996). According to World Health Organization (WHO), the proportion of people from all ages suffering from depression is more than 300 million people and nearly 800 000 people commit suicide when being depressed every year. More than just a feeling of being sad for a few days, depression is a serious mental illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interests in daily activities. In fact, it is estimated that one out of five teenagers will be affected by depression at some period of their teen years. Therefore, the paper which is based on secondary research, is aimed at raising awareness about teenagers’ depression, including its background knowledge, possible causes, effects and treatments, as well as giving useful advice for parents to help their children overcome depression.
Major depressive disorder (MDD), also known simply as depression, is “a common, chronic, treatable mood disorder which typically follows a remitting and relapsing course of depressive episodes” (Speed, DePaulo, 2004). It is often accompanied by constant low mood, decrease in self-attitude – a distinctly lower sense of self-esteem and self-confidence, low in mental and physical energy, which drive down one’s daily functioning.
Depression can be observed at any ages; however, teenagers’ depression usually easily disrupts their lives and goes along with many long-term problems. In fact, not all adolescents have the same symptoms, most will display different signs at different times and in different stages of the illness. For the most parts, nevertheless, they have to suffer these common symptoms. The primary symptom is that teenagers always have a noticeable change in their feelings and emotion. Most patients often experience excessive sadness, emotional responsiveness, interest loss, and low motivation in majority activities. Therefore, depressed teenagers tend to withdraw from their friends and the activities they used to enjoy. Another significant symptom can come from changes in teenagers’ memory – poor concentration which makes it hard for most of them to think clearly and have a good decision or plan. Adolescents with depression may close their bedroom door right after school and stay in their room for hours, sleep excessively, eat more or less than before, and may even exhibit some illegal behaviors such as driving under the influence or shoplifting.
The causes of teenagers’ depression are not completely understood; however, it is believed that personal factors and environmental factors may work together to make an adolescent more likely to appear this disease. Firstly, the internal causes may be involved in causing or triggering depression is the imbalance of hormones and brain chemicals or the inherited traits. Some depressed teenagers have a depressive personality style which is an important factor contributing this disease. Those who are already genetically vulnerable usually have a tendency to view themselves and the world with negative perspective. As a result, good things are not appreciated while bad things seem to be overwhelming because of different levels of neurotransmitters, the key chemicals in human’s brain, affect how brain cells communicate with one another and play a vital role in regulating moods and behavior. Another personal factor in many cases of teenagers’ depression comes from genetic influence which may be an inherited factor. This disease seems to run in families because many adolescents whose relatives with depression, especially their parent or grandparent, are more likely to suffer the disease themselves.
Secondly, environmental factors play a part in the beginning or relapse of teenagers’ depression as well. Some stressors from early childhood trauma from the past may be enough to cause or worsen depressive illness. Unpleasant events during childhood, such as parental divorce, physical, emotional or sexual abuse, loss of someone or something important can leave lasting effects on a teenager’s brain that could contribute to depression. These stressful life events may be enough to make an adolescent more susceptible to this disease. Young people are also more likely to suffer from depression if they do not have a good performance at school. Such high academic pressures can develop the feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy over their grades. To escape from their negative feelings and get a ‘mood boost’, many youngsters tend to go online, drink or use drugs, but excessive smartphone, the Internet and substance use only increases their isolation and makes depression worse in the long run.
Major depressive disorder, a serious medical illness, has massive negative effects on teenagers’ physical and mental health. Many uncontrollable and unhealthy behaviors or attitudes in teenagers can result from depression. Depression can cause an overwhelming sense of sadness, despair, anger, low energy and concentration difficulties. Depression can trigger and intensify feelings of ugliness, shame, failure, and unworthiness in many young patients. The negative effects of teenagers’ depression go far beyond the psychological damage. This may lead to poor concentration, a drop in grades, or disappointment with schoolwork, even regular absence from school in a formerly good student. Some depressed teenagers- particularly boys can become more aggressive and violent in their thoughts and action.
Teen depression may also co-occur with other serious medical illness and physical changes. This disease may cause tremendous aches and pains for adolescents, especially backache, and disrupt their daily activities. Depression can also affect the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infection. Therefore, some vaccinations such as the zoster vaccine may even be less effective in adolescents with depression. Depression has also been linked to heart disease and increased risk for substance abuse in some cases. All these changes can lead to a vicious cycle that’s tough to break without treatment for both depression and related diseases.
Depressed teenagers may be highly at risk of suicide, many of them can have some thoughts of harming themselves at least once in stages of the illness if signs and symptoms continue to interfere in their lives. Younger persons feeling suicidal are often overwhelmed by painful emotions or life’s challenges and consider death as the only way out, losing sight of the fact that suicide is just a permanent ‘solution’ to a temporary state.
Depression symptoms may get worse or lead to other problems because they likely won’t get better on their own. Therefore, the earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is. The most helpful treatment does not only come from professional health care; however, the healthier lifestyle and family support play an indispensable role in checking and eliminating depressive signs and symptoms.
Firstly, depressed young patients need to be encouraged to stay social. The simple act of keeping face-to-face communication plays a big role in patient’s reconnection. Family support, for instance, can make the huge differences in patient’s recovery. Family members, especially parent should be good listeners by setting aside time each day to ask questions or talk to their children, support and share their feelings, emotion or difficulties. Depressed teenagers also need to be encouraged to go out with their friends especially those who are active, upbeat and reliable to feel better and regain their enthusiasm.
Secondly, making healthy lifestyle choices can do wonders for moods because physical and mental health are inextricably connected. Therefore, things like eating right, regularly doing exercise, and getting enough sleep have been shown to make a huge difference when it comes to depression. Regular exercise can be as effective as medications or therapy for depression because physical activity can stimulate the production of ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain that elevate mood. Therefore, get involved in favorite activities such as some after-school clubs, an art, dance, sports, or music class are some of the best treatments for depressed young patients. An unhealthy diet with junk food, refined carbs, starchy foods and sugary snacks can make you feel sluggish and tired, which worsens depression symptoms in the long run. Therefore, make sure you’re feeding your mind with adequate nutrition with plenty of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, quality protein and whole grains for optimum brain health and mood support. Sleep is also significantly important to teenagers’ mood because whether sleeping too little or too much, or staying up late, their mood will suffer. Therefore, if you want to better your depressive situation, make sure that you get enough sleep aiming for eight hours each night and follow a regular bedtime routine.
It is essential to seek expert advice from a mental health professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions if depressed young patient’s condition get worsen. The usual first choice for depression treatment is an antidepressant medication which helps improve the way our brain using certain chemicals controlling mood or stress. There are different types of antidepressants available; however, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most popular choice of both doctors and patients because they tend to have fewer bothersome side effects than certain older types. Antidepressants can be an effective form of treatment for moderate-severe depression but are not the most suitable treatment for all cases of adolescent depression. Therefore, in some cases, a doctor or a mental health professional trained to work with adolescents will suggest several types of psychotherapy also called ‘talk therapy’. Psychotherapy taking place in a one-on-one meeting with a licensed mental health professional can help you identify and manage troubles with emotion, thoughts, and behavior. According to thiswayup.org.au, the primary medical options are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is very effective and 80% of people with mild, moderate or severe depression improve. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, a combination of medication and psychotherapy may be the best option for treating depression in teenagers. The combination of the two depression treatments from two different approaches, addressing both the brain chemical imbalance and the psychological damage involved in the illness. In working together, they try to tackle efficaciously personal issues and problems that may be contributing to depression.
In conclusion, depression among teenagers is quite common and quite a serious problem, especially in modern society. Major depressive disorder is absolutely a treatable illness; however, it is never easy for every patient, especially adolescents, to escape from all the depressive symptoms and signs without positive changes in their own lifestyle, valuable help from family and society as well as opportune intervention from health and psychology experts.
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