Depression and American teenagers seem to go hand in hand. Today’s youth faces many challenges. The pressure for academic success can be overwhelming, family troubles can plague students in and out of the home, and social situations can cause a great deal of worry and stress. Adolescents often don’t know how to express emotions or may not want to share difficulties for fear of judgment. As a result, some experience depression.
Although teenage depression is common, it still remains a delicate subject. Teenage depression is not always recognized by even the most responsible and involved parents. In truth, the symptoms of teen depression can be mistaken for a normal teenager just going through the normal trials and tribulations of growing up.
While we know that every teen has a bad day now and then, the challenge lies within a bad day becoming a bad week and then a bad month, which can cause severe mental aguish for the teen. Even one bad day can signal the beginnings of a serious depressive episode.
A National Institute of Mental Health study confirms that 20% of American teenagers will suffer from depression before adulthood. This research also notes that 10% to 15% of teens experience some form of depression at any time. In addition, compared to about 5% of the general public, 8.3% of teens experience depression.
This disorder can be detrimental to teenagers as they try to juggle a home life, social life, and self-discovery. It can affect the quality of schoolwork and relationships with peers. The long-term effects of depression can also lead to substance abuse in approximately 30% of teens. These factors make it essential for parents to know that therapy for teenage depression exists and it is accessible.
Depression in American Teenagers
While occasional sadness and feelings of despair are normal, emotions of this nature that last more than a few days could be a sign of depression. Often called depressive disorder, this condition includes several different forms. Here are a few varieties:
- Major depression can rise in bouts and last for a long period of time. It affects the quality of life, changing sleep patterns, work performance, and eating habits. Persistent depressive disorder also affects functioning, but typically occurs in two year intervals
- Psychotic depression includes symptoms of psychosis
- Postpartum depression is linked with hormonal changes in women after giving birth
- Seasonal affective disorder causes the blues during winter months
- Bipolar disorder is a more serious form of depression. Sufferers experience extreme highs and lows. This condition is also a long-term effect of depression in 15% of teenagers
- The causes for non-event-related depression are not completely clear. Scientists attribute depression to a variety of factors, including genetics, psychology, and the environment
Treatment for Teen Depression
According to NIMH, any of these forms of depression requires professional help and is not to be taken lightly. Psychotherapists employ two different methods of treatment, namely cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy. With the former, patients learn alternatives to existing thought patterns. Therefore they learn alternative perceptions to reduce their negative thoughts. The latter therapy focuses on relationships or trauma that could be causing the negative feelings.
Therapists seek to gain ground with teens’ emotional self-regulation in order to further their psychological treatment for depression. As a result, experiential practices and holistic modalities can then take hold. The life skills gained through the application of an integrated approach generates sustainable habits. This provides adolescents with lifelong thriving.
With the help of interventions, many teens are better able to cope with difficult life situations. They can approach painful experiences and challenging emotions from an internal source of strength. While treatment for teens is not a cure-all for depression and anxiety, compassionate care can ease the symptoms. Consequently, this helps teens find normalcy in their lives.
Infographic: Depression in American Teenagers
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