Teen depression occurs at some point in as many as 20 percent of all teens in the United States according to experts. This includes as many as 15 to 30 percent of teens suffering from depression at any given point. Also, teen suicide has been on the rise in recent years and is the third leading cause of death for persons 15 to 24 years of age.
Several societal problems are involved in teen depression, including the fact that depression has many different looks. We expect prolonged sadness to be the primary symptoms of depression, but many persons who suffer from depression learn how to mask their symptoms. Persons who are severely depressed can be very energetic and communicative simply because they are working very hard to keep their depression a secret. People with depression can fear they will give up on themselves. As such, they appear more optimistic and carefree than they really are. They are trying to hide their depression from you and from themselves.
Depression is also exhibited by other symptoms that are not what others might expect. Depression shows up as feeling trapped. It can show up as irritability, a sense of doom about the future, and getting stuck on morbid topics. One sign of depression is constant frustration – feeling trapped in a no-win life.
Teenagers feel trapped by authority figures for the simple reason that our attitude about authorities shifts over time. Toddlers love the help they get from their parents. By the time people reach their teenage years, they often feel burdened and betrayed by authority figures, because these are the years in which they try to increase their own autonomy. These can be difficult transmissions, especially when considering changing demands at school and changing roles in society regarding the onset of puberty and other factors.
A teenager may be struggling with the idea of becoming public about their sexual orientation. They could simply feel society is expecting too much from them.
Other suspected causes of depression include hormonal changes, a sudden appreciation of complicated adult expectations. Other factors include:
- Early childhood trauma
- Undiagnosed conditions
- Brain chemistry
- Learned patterns of negative thinking
- Sexual abuse
- Various mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, and eating disorders
- Low self-esteem from issues of intelligence, body shape, and sexual orientation.
While many people fear a mental health label, such as depression, a diagnosis of depression can be very beneficial. It is better to have a name and a set pattern of treatment options rather than not knowing why you even feel bad. You can treat something once you identify it. You can’t treat something well until you know what it is. This problem is complicated with depression because it is expected that we feel sad after events that include a loss – whether it is a perceived loss or a tangible one. A diagnosis, in that regard, is only diagnosed when the depression continues for three to six months.
People who are depressed also try to mask their sadness with “self-medicating,” which involves turning to alcohol or street drugs. Over time, this just adds another layer of difficulty, because addiction to drugs or alcohol might set in. Another way that depression stays out of sight is due to the lack of sadness that is also a frequent manifestation of the illness. This is a type of depression in which the patient does not feel great sadness, nor do they feel much happiness.
To visualize this, think of depression as one mood on a chart. Happiness would be represented by the higher numbers, say seven through ten, while sadness would be charted as numbers one, two, and three. You would expect someone depressed to be living entirely in the lowest numbers. Instead, someone with depression lives in the low-affect middle ground, represented by numbers four through six. From the point of view of mood, they clamp down on emotions, so they don’t ever feel happiness or sadness. They are afraid of sadness so much they sacrifice feeling happy to guard against high or low moods. They cling to the middle ground, instead.
This may seem like a safe way to live – just hold onto the middle ground. But good mental health isn’t clamped tight to the middle moods. When your team wins a big game or your friend gets married you should be very happy. If something tragic happens, it would be healthy to feel sadness for a short time. People who hold tight to the middle range of emotions find they will be carrying around sadness, guilt, shame, and other moods. They are not feeling them at the moment as a healthier person might.
Depression is often a cyclical occurrence, something that would occur every few years and last as long as a month or much longer. Some cycles run every other year, while others require short term treatment with long periods of remission.
The two standard forms of treatment involve either medication, cognitive/behavioral talk therapy, and TMS Stimulation Treatment. Medication options can be discussed with your physician or with a psychiatrist, who can prescribe anti-depressants. A qualified psychotherapist is also a helpful option, as people with depression find themselves in negative states of mind stemming from counterproductive or self-damaging beliefs. Pain management San Diego is also trained to recognize depression and to suggest recovery strategies with you.