“WHEN I have a bout of depression,” says Anna, “I have no motivation to do anything, not even the things I usually love to do. All I want to do is sleep. I often feel that I am unlovable, worthless, and a burden to others.”
“I thought about suicide,” recalls Julia. “I didn’t really want to die. I just wanted to stop feeling this way. I’m normally a caring person, but when I’m depressed, I care little about anyone or anything.”
Anna and Julia were in their early teens when they first experienced depression. While other young people might occasionally feel down, Anna and Julia had periods of depression that persisted for weeks or months at a time. “It’s like being stuck in a deep, dark hole with no way out,” Anna says. “You feel like you are losing your mind, losing who you are.”
Anna and Julia’s situation is not uncommon. The diagnosis of depression among the young appears to be increasing at an alarming rate, and depression is “the predominant cause of illness and disability for both boys and girls aged 10 to 19 years,” says the World Health Organization (WHO).
The symptoms of depression can appear during adolescence and may include changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and weight. Feelings of despair, hopelessness, sadness, and worthlessness may also appear. Other signs include social withdrawal, trouble concentrating or remembering, suicidal thoughts or actions, and medically unexplained symptoms. When mental-health professionals suspect depression, they usually look for groups of symptoms that persist for weeks and that disrupt a person’s everyday life.
POSSIBLE CAUSES OF TEEN DEPRESSION
According to WHO, “depression results from a complex interaction of social, psychological and biological factors.” These may include the following.
Physical factors. As was true in Julia’s case, depression often runs in families, suggesting that genetics can play a role, perhaps affecting chemical activity in the brain. Other physical risk factors include cardiovascular disease and changing hormone levels, as well as ongoing substance abuse, which may intensify depression, if not give rise to it.
Stress. While a little stress can be healthy, chronic or excessive stress can be physically and psychologically harmful, sometimes to the point of plunging a susceptible, or biologically vulnerable, teen into depression. That said, the exact causes of depression remain unclear and may involve a combination of factors, as mentioned earlier.
Stress-related factors linked to depression may include parental divorce or separation, the death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, a serious accident, illness, or a learning disability
CARE FOR YOUR MIND AND BODY
Moderate to severe depression is usually managed with medication and counseling by a mental-health professional. “Those who are strong do not need a physician, but those who are ill do.” And illness can affect any part of our body, including our brain! Lifestyle changes may also be advisable because our mind and body are closely connected.
If you suffer from depression, take reasonable measures to care for your physical and mental health. For instance, eat wholesome meals, get sufficient sleep, and exercise regularly. Exercise releases chemicals that can lift your mood, increase your energy, and improve your sleep. If possible, try to recognize triggers and early warning signs of a depressive mood and create a suitable plan of action. Confide in someone you trust. A supportive network of close family members and friends may help you to cope more effectively with your depression, possibly reducing symptoms. Record your thoughts and feelings in a journal
What Parents Can Do
Recognize that depressed teens may find it hard to express their feelings or may not understand what is happening to them. They may not even be aware of the symptoms of depression.
Teens tend to express their depression in ways different from those of adults, so be alert to major changes in your child’s behavior, eating habits, moods, sleep patterns, or social interactions
—especially if the changes persist for weeks.
Take seriously any comments or hints regarding suicide.
If you suspect depression (not just the blues), consider getting a professional diagnosis.
Help your teen adhere to the doctor’s prescribed treatment, and consult the doctor if you see no improvement or observe unpleasant side effects.
Have a stable family routine for eating, exercising, and sleeping.
Maintain good communication with your teen, and help him or her to deal with any stigma associated with depression.
Because depression can make one feel alone, ashamed, or worthless, regularly reassure your teen of your love.
Depression and Teenage Girls
The incidence of depression in teenage girls appears to be higher than that of boys. One factor may be the stress resulting from emotional, physical, or sexual harassment or abuse, which girls often have to cope with. “When a scary external world and a chaotic internal world collide,” wrote professional counselor Sharon Hersh, “the result is often overwhelming and confusing.” Girls may also be unduly influenced by media portrayals of the “ideal” body. A girl who sees herself as physically undesirable or who is overly concerned about peer approval may be more vulnerable to depression.
Share and stoped depresion