Text Box: Teen Attitude? Teen Depression?

	Teens are often noted for their lack of conformance.  Most teens are not expected to act, feel or think in the same way adults do.  Ironically, it is assumed that teens will experience depression in the same way as adults.  Twenty percent of teens will experience clinical depression before reaching adulthood and approximately 25 percent of depressed teens will receive systematic treatment.  
Recognizing depression in teens can be particularly difficulty with the many changes experienced in adolescence.  Depression is more than a feeling of sadness.  It may involve feelings of guilt, fear, inferiority, apathy, hopelessness or a loss of pleasure.    Even more varied are the responses or behaviors associated with these emotions. Behavioral symptoms may include: difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, irresponsible behavior -- for example, forgetting obligations, being late for classes, skipping school, loss of interest in food or compulsive overeating that results in rapid weight loss or gain, memory loss, staying awake at night and sleeping during the day, sudden drop in grades, use of alcohol or drugs and promiscuous sexual activity, withdrawal from friends, decline in fashion or hygiene concerns, or rebellious behavior.  Depressed teens may also be preoccupied with death or dying.  Physical symptoms of depression may include headaches, stomachaches, low back pain, and fatigue.  While many of these symptoms are evident in adolescence, it is cause for concern when multiple symptoms are present and continue for more than a few days.   It is important that teens who experience symptoms of depression for more than two weeks seek help.  
While adults and teens have some common symptoms of depression, the differences are notable.  In teens, their mood may be irritable or angry.  Teens also may become very sensitive to criticism.  This can result in more extreme reactions to others.  In addition depressed teens often report physical ailments, aches and pains.  While depressed adults often isolate themselves, depressed teens may change their social patterns.  They may withdraw from some friends, distance themselves from parents, or begin hanging out with a different group.
Depression in teens can occur for various reasons.  It can be prompted by the natural stress of adolescence or can be a reaction to a stressful event such as failure in school, break up with boy or girlfriend or the death of a friend or relative.  Some teens are very resilient in spite of stressors while others are at higher risk for depression.  Adolescents are at a greater risk for depression if they have a history of trauma or abuse, chronic illness, family history of depression or mental illness, poor social skills, or lack of stability in care giving.  
Untreated depression can result in problems at school, running away, substance abuse, low self-esteem, self-injury, eating disorders, internet addiction, reckless behavior, violence, or suicide.  
If you are concerned about a teen that may be depressed, start by talking with them about your concerns.  When talking offer support letting them know your concern.  Be patient for them to respond, while recognizing this can be difficult for teens to discuss.  Listen and validate their concerns.   Also, seek support from a counselor or physician.  The most effective treatments take into consideration biological, social and psychological factors and treatment.  Cognitive-Behavioral therapy combined with medication results in more successful treatment than medication alone. In studies comparing treatments about 70% of teens were responsive to treatment involving both medication and therapy while effectiveness of only medication or therapy ranged from 40-60%.  
Depression is a disorder that has significant social impact.  While a teen you know may be suffering from depression they are not alone.  Their pain is real and impacts all those they come in contact with.  Depression affects not only an individual but their families, friends, school and work. The key to healing is treatment, education and support. Being proactive may decrease the symptoms and pain experienced by those who suffer from this debilitating disorder.
Text Box: June Thought of the Month

June 2009

Issue 7

Carolina Center for Counseling

& Behavioral Interventions, LLC

Contact Information

304 A North East Main Street

  Simpsonville, SC 29681    


Phone: 864 - 963 - 4028

Fax: 877-201-4878


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