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Teenage depression

Teenager depression is more than just the normal mood swings associated with this time of life, and it can be treated. If a teenager's unhappiness lasts for more than two weeks and they display other symptoms of depression, it may be time to seek help from a health professional.

Why do adolescents get depression?

There are many reasons why a teenager might become depressed. For example, teenagers can develop feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy over their school marks. School performance, social status with peers, sexual orientation, or family life can each have a major effect on how a teenager feels. Sometimes, teenage depression may result from environmental stress. Whatever the cause, when friends or family, or things that the teenager usually enjoys, don't help to improve their sadness or sense of isolation, there's a good chance that they have teenage depression.

What are the symptoms of teenage depression?

Often, teenagers suffering from depression will have a noticeable change in their thinking and behaviour. They may have no motivation and even become withdrawn, closing their bedroom door after school and staying in their room for hours.

Teenagers suffering from depression may sleep excessively, change their eating habits, and may even exhibit criminal behaviour such as vandalism or shoplifting. Here are more signs of depression in adolescents even though they may or may not show all signs:

  • Apathy
  • Complaints of pain, including headaches, stomachaches, lower back pain, and of  fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Irresponsible behaviour, for example, forgetting obligations, being late for classes, bunking off school
  • Loss of interest in food or compulsive overeating that results in rapid weight loss or gain
  • Memory loss
  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Rebellious behaviour
  • Sadness, anxiety, or a feeling of hopelessness
  • Staying awake at night and sleeping during the day
  • Sudden drop in marks at school
  • Use of alcohol or drugs and promiscuous sexual activity
  • Withdrawal from friends

Can teenage depression run in families?

Yes. Depression, which usually starts between the ages of 15 and 30, can run in families. In fact, teenage depression may be more common among adolescents who have a family history of depression.

How is teenage depression diagnosed?

There aren't any specific medical tests that can detect depression. Health care professionals determine if a teenager is suffering from depression by conducting interviews and psychological tests with the teenager and their family members, teachers, and peers.

The severity of the teenage depression and the risk of suicide are determined based on the assessment of these interviews. Treatment recommendations are also made based on the data collected from the interviews.

The doctor will also look for signs of potentially co-existing mental health disorders such as anxiety, mania, or schizophrenia. The doctor will also assess the teenager for risks of suicidal or homicidal behaviours. Incidences of attempted suicide and self-mutilation is higher in females than males while completed suicide is higher in males. One of most vulnerable groups for completed suicide is the 18-24 year old age group.

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