What is depression?

teen depressionAccording to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), depression is “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.” Symptoms may include sadness, a loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable, problems sleeping, changes in appetite, and thoughts of suicide. Almost all teenagers will experience some of these symptoms at some point in their lives, so symptoms must be present for at least two weeks for a formal diagnosis. Let’s explore teen depression together.

What causes depression?

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that depression may be brought on by “genetics, brain biology and chemistry, and life events such as trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, an early childhood experience, or any stressful situation.”

For teenagers, these factors may include parents with depression, divorce, the death of a friend, a break-up with a significant other, or exposure to neighborhood violence.

Who experiences teen depression?

An adolescent experiencing depression may feel like no one can understand what he or she is going through, but a 2016 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration found that:

  • more than 3 million youth (ages 12-17) had a major depressive episode during the year,
  • girls are about 3 times more likely than boys to experience a major depressive episode, and
  • episodes were most prevalent in adolescents who identified as white, Hispanic, or with two or more races.

How is depression treated?

Fortunately, depression is a very treatable condition. Symptoms can be mitigated through the use of medication, therapy, improved self-care, or a combination of these. Of course, the first step is to seek help from a physician, psychologist,  psychiatrist or other counselor such as a pastor, teacher, or trusted adult to help guide you to the best care you would need.

Are you a teen who thinks you may be depressed? Are you a parent worried about changes in your teen’s mood? Do you teach a student who may be experiencing some the symptoms noted above? Maybe you just want to know more about teen depression and how you can help. Please contact the school’s guidance counselor or seek medical attention in an emergency situation. Remember… there is no shame in asking for and getting help!

If you find your school’s population is at-risk and could use a program to help address some of the teen depression concerns and issues, please contact us and let CoolSpeak help.