Depression is characterized as a disorder in which a person finds themselves in a sad state of mind more often than they are not. This poor mood can be caused by life in general or by something off in their system. When a person is depressed they are not just sad all the time, they stop doing the things they enjoy and they stop being around the people they usually spend time around. They can also become more irritable than usual and have dangerous mood swings. Most people believe that depression is something that only effects adults because they have the most visible problems in life to face, but children and teenagers can suffer from this illness too. During adolescence children feel awkward and out of place, which can lead to depression. Depression is a growing issue with teenagers that goes unnoticed by both parents and teachers, but can easily be prevented if the adults in their lives were more knowledgeable by being educated on the causes, signs, prevention, and treatment of this disorder.
According to the article ‘Is Your Child Depressed?’ adolescent depression comes when children are turning into teenagers, they are learning sexuality and making their own decisions for the first time in their lives (2008). It seems that these days children are growing up even faster than other generations and this fast road to adulthood is causing a rise in teenage bouts of depression. According to the article ‘Is There a Magic Age that Defines Adolescence?’ adolescence can start as early as ages 7 and 8, but normally between the ages of 11 and 12, when puberty starts (2009). Children are also dating sooner, and thus having sexual intercourse sooner, which leads to broken hearts, possible sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy and other issues that can lead to depression. They are taking on more responsibilities at a younger age, like housework, babysitting jobs and relationships, when they should still be having fun and being kids. These extra obligations just aide in the development of stress and depression, just like that of adults. Teenagers are still children, but they are children on the cusp of being adults and that can make life even more difficult.
There are actually signs that can be seen that will pinpoint a depressed teenager, although not all signs may be immediately noticeable. Knowing these signs can direct the way to early detection which can lead to a better chance at an improved live for depressed children. Rawley Silver says that aggression can be used as a mask for depression (2008). Teens that lash out or are abusive may be showing signs of depression. Teenagers who sulk regularly, are easily irritable, are negative a lot and/or have feelings of being misunderstood could be depressed (‘Is Your Child Depressed?, 2008). Some of these mood swings may appear normal, but when it seems to be in excess it could be a sign of depression (‘Is Your Child Depressed’, 2008). Just because a teen is moody does not mean they are depressed, but it is worth looking into further before depression takes over. Early detection could mean saving a child’s life. A list of typical signs that will show a teenager is depressed follows (‘Signs your teen is depressed, 2009):Low energy, no “get up and go”Shows excess irritability, especially when asked to do something they do not want to doExtreme weight loss or gainInsomnia or sleeping in too muchSuicidal thoughts or threatsSkipping school, grades droppingQuitting school activities or not showing up for themNeglecting friendsFrequent crying for no apparent reason
Before depression becomes a problem it can be prevented by giving teenagers time to be kids and by not putting as much of life’s pressures on them all at once. Allowing them time to still be childish with an equal amount of pre-adult behavior will lessen the stress that the change into adolescence brings. Monitoring the behavior of teenagers and setting rules, by both teachers and parents, can lead to early detection of depression symptoms which can then be stopped head on before full blown depression emerges. Keeping a close eye on a child’s regular habits can be a good way to indicate habits that can be signs of early depression, like grades starting to slip, or activities being ignored. By seeing this early and talking with the teen about it, whatever is stressing them out may be able to be rectified before it becomes depression. Depression can be prevented if it is caught in its very earliest stages. According to the article ‘Signs your teen is depressed’ some early warning things a teen might say are “I wish I were dead”, “I can not do anything right”, “I am worthless”, or even “Why do I bother, there is no point anyway” (2009).
Once the teenager is diagnosed with depression they can be treated with medications, therapy or other alternatives, depending on their parents choices and their doctor’s recommendations. According to the article ‘Is Your Child Depressed?’ (2008) there are two treatments that are usually used for treatment of teenage depression, these are Psychotherapy and Pharmacotherapy. Psychotherapy is defined as the treatment of mental or emotional disorder or maladjustment by psychological means involving verbal communication (group therapy, one-on-one therapy, hypnosis, etc.). Pharmacotherapy is defined as the treatment of disease and mental disorder using drugs. Unfortunately, medications can cause negative side effects in teenagers, which include increased thoughts of suicide. This seems to be a precaution that counteracts the purpose of the drug in general, making counseling sound like the better and more logical choice in treatments of adolescent depression. Most often doctors will offer to prescribe drugs without counseling, though it is best to opt for counseling as it gives the child a chance to sit down and talk their problems out with an outsider that can offer an un-biased opinion to the issues they are having. Parents would like that their kids comes to them with any problems but sometimes it is not that easy for a teenager to open up to a parent or a parent figure, like a teacher, which is where a counselor comes in handy. Things like sex and relationships are known to be taboo between children and parents, bringing fear to the mind of any teenager who is having an issue in this part of life.
In conclusion, it is visible that depression is a growing issue with teenagers, which can lead to permanent mental and physical damage and even suicide/death. But it can be detected early and a young life can be spared and made better if the people in their lives are willing to be observant. With educated adults in their lives this adolescent illness can be prevented before it even effects the teen, or at least treated swiftly once it is diagnosed. Knowledge of the causes and signs of teenage depression will also help to bring about a cure to this disease. It is possible to end teenage depression, which is a considerably under-treated health problem (Cuijpers, van Straten, Smits, Smit. 2006). A cure can come from the early detection and the knowledge of adults in a depressed teenagers life. This is not just an issue that parents need to deal with, but also something teachers should be aware of. While a child is growing up a third of their lives is spent away from their parents, at school. Teachers have the ability to be aware and notice symptoms of depression also and to alert the parents timely.
Cuijpers, P., van Straten, A., Smits, N., Smit, F. (2006). Screening and Early Psychological Intervention for Depression in Schools. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Vol. 15 (No. 5). P. 300- 307. [Retrieved from Kaplan University Library November 5, 2009]
‘Is There a Magic Age that Defines Adolescence?’, (2009). 4troubledteens.com. [Retrieved on-line December 5, 2009]
‘Is Your Child Depressed?’, (2008). Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, Vol. 24 (Issue 7). [Retrieved from Kaplan University Library November 5, 2009]
Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary (2006). Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.
‘Signs your teen is depressed’, (2009). 4troubledteens.com. [Retrieved on-line December 5, 2009]
Silver, R. (2008). Identifying Children and Adolescents at Risk for Depression and/or Aggression. [Retrieved from Kaplan University Library November 5, 2009]