Depression is a mental illness that requires help from an experienced professional. Although many mistakenly believe that depression is an adult illness, many young people also suffer from depression. Teenage depression often goes undiagnosed because adults in the teen’s life mistake the symptoms of depression for typical teenage moodiness.
However, untreated teenage depression can have dire consequences. Depressed teenagers are more likely than their peers to have trouble at school, experiment with drugs and alcohol, or commit suicide. In fact, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among young adults age 15 to 24. Teenage boys are most likely to successfully attempt suicide, while the group most at risk for depressive disorders is teen girls.
Depression often causes victims to feel so despondent that they do not seek help on their own, so parents, teachers, school counselors and coaches must be able to recognize the symptoms and know something about teen suicide facts and signs. Without treatment, depression in teens can last for weeks, months or years.
Symptoms of Depression in Teenagers
It can be difficult to separate normal teenage angst from depression. To further complicate matters, teenagers experience symptoms of depression differently than adults do. While a depressed adult might struggle with overwhelming sadness and lethargy, teenage depression tends to mainly manifest itself in aggression, irritability and social withdrawal. Other symptoms of teenage depression include:
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Difficulty concentrating
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Frequent crying
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities
- Neglect of personal appearance
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
Teen Depression Test
Certain life events put teenagers at a higher risk than their peers for developing depression. These events include:
- Desire to drink alcohol or use drugs
- Difficulty coping with anger
- Interest in or growing fear of violence
- Lifestyle changes such as weight loss, weight gain or difficulty sleeping
- Problems in school
- Traumatic events or life changes, such as an abusive parent, divorce, death of a loved one, or breaking up with a longtime girlfriend or boyfriend.
As the rate of teen depression rises, so does the incidence of suicide. Most adolescents considering suicide will give clues that they are suicidal. They may indicate that they want to give up or end the misery. If you suspect that someone you know is desperate for help, tell an adult â€” a teacher, a counselor or a coach. If they ignore you, tell someone else.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Staff. (2008). Teen suicide. Retrieved April 26, 2010, from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website: http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/teen_suicide.
American Academy of Pediatrics Staff. (n.d.). Preventing teen suicide. Retrieved April 30, 2010, from the American Academy of Pediatrics website: http://www.aap.org/advocacy/childhealthmonth/prevteensuicide.htm.
Life Positive Foundation Staff. (n.d.). Anxiety in children. Retrieved April 26, 2010, from the Life Positive Foundation website: http://www.lifepositive.com/mind/psychology/stress/anxiety-in-children.asp.
NSDUH Report Staff. (2009). Major depressive episode and treatment among adolescents. Retrieved April 30, 2010, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website: http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k9/youthDepression/MDEandTXTforADOL.htm.
Smith, M., Barston, S., Jaffe, J., Dumke, L.F. and Segal, J. (2007). Teen depression. Retrieved April 26, 2010, from the Help Guide website: http://helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen.htm.