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Welcome to Belovedgems, a blog about building a bridge between faith and mental health. The author rooted in her faith , her old-soul leads her into adventures to seek spreading hope into the world through a couple of written words.

Depression Among Teens Part I

Depression can define different ways.  Every individual feels sad or down indifferently.  However, being depressed is not the same as of being sad.  People who experience sadness are not always experiencing depression.  Depression being discussed in this blog refers to clinical depression.  Depression is common and a serious illness.  “According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Fourth Edition, the diagnosis of major depression can be made if a patient have five or more of the following symptoms during the same 2-week interval with at least one of the symptoms being either depressed moor or loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were previously pleasurable…” (Chapman & Perry, 2008 p.2)

“Depression, particularly in teenagers, is often described as the invisible illness.” (Cash, 2003 p.1).  Due to the common mood disorders, hormonal changes, cognitive development, and physical changes depression can be easily masked during the teenage years (Cash, 2003).  If you are a parent, do you remember being teenagers?  I encourage you to reflect back and remember those awkward changes that you also went through.  This will help you emphasize with your teenager at home.  According to Cash (2003), most middle or high school students experience light or intense episodes of irritability, or sadness.  Cash (2003) discusses how parents can see the difference from common teenage behaviors compared to a depression episode.  If a parent is unable to detect the difference, it can lead to the teenager to withdrawal, alcohol or drug abuse.

When a teenager is experiencing depression they experience a change in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, increased or decreased of activity level, unable to concentrate, and decreased in self-worth (Cash, 2003).  Symptoms can be present in school by decreased attention during class, defiant behavior, poor grades, ditching class, fights, and withdrawal from peers (Cash, 2003).   Some of the warning signs that a teenager is experiencing depression are sadness, depressed mood or irritable.  Other warning signs are if the teenager is experiencing agitation, defiance, and lack of pleasure in daily activities, withdrawal or crying. 

The Himalayan Times (2010) reports having been a significant increase in depression among teenagers in the past years.  According to The Himalayan Times (2010) one of the reasons depression exist in teenagers are due to their interpersonal relationships and academic expectations.  Besides academics expectation, and relationships, teenagers also experience depression due to family problems.  Parents have unrealistic expectations of teenagers.  Parents might also be having marital problems, and the teenager might be overwhelmed.  There is no specific reason how parents are correlated with the depression among teenagers.

The most common symptoms of depression in teenagers are withdrawal, aggressiveness, violence, and addictions to substance.  Other factors why teenagers are experiencing depression is that their needs have changed, and are not being met.  According to Himalayan Times (2010) teenagers now worry about their diet image, what they sound like and who they are supposed to be according to society.

In teenagers depression is most common among girls.  According to McGuiness, Dyer and Wade (2012) it was apparent that depression was common in girls when the rate was twice as high compared to depression in boys.  McGuiness, Dyer, and Wade (2012) stated that girls are vulnerable to depression right after they begin puberty.  Vulnerability and environmental factors both contribute to higher rates of depression in girls (McGuiness, Dyer, & Wade, 2012).   Environmental factors consist of the increased pressure of social expectations in school and coping with new male attention (McGuiness, Dyer, & Wade, 2012).  Therefore, do not assume that the girl’s moodiness is always hormonal.  If you see the above symptoms in your teenage girl, seek help for her immediately.

Some reasons for why depression is more common on girls are that they depend more on emotional communication and to be accepted among their friends (McGuiness, Dyer, & Wade, 2012).  Girls are more depended on being satisfied by their interpersonal relationships (McGuiness, Dyer, & Wade, 2012).  Girls tend to be more focus on what social acceptance and evaluations (McGuiness, Dyer, & Wade, 2012).  
Depression and Suicide
Suicide is the main cause of teenager’s deaths these days.  Many teenagers are experiencing new challenges, physical and emotional change with no knowledge of how to cope with these changes.  This is a period in their lives when they are overwhelmed with new expectations.  Some teenagers turn to alcohol or drugs to cope.  Suicide does not discriminate in ethnicity, gender or economic status.

There are invitations to be aware of among teenagers to prevent suicide:

·        Verbal or expressed in writing threats of suicide
·        History of previous attempts
·        Depressed or disturbed mood
·        Self-harming behaviors
·        Unable to concentrate or rational thinking
·        Changes in physical activities (e.g. sleeping, eating or social patterns)
·        Personality changes (e.g. sadness, withdrawal or isolation)
·        Making final arrangements
·        Suicide plan
To prevent suicide among teenagers or other individuals, it is important to be aware of the warnings sings.  Parents should be able to seek help for their teenagers and be aware of the risk factors that can lead a teenager to experiencing depressive symptoms.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1 (800) 273-8255
Hours: 24 hours, seven days a week
Languages: English, Spanish

Treatment and Interventions for Depression

According to Petersen, Compas, Brook-Gunn, Sydney, and Grant (1993) treatment for depression among teenagers includes cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamically therapy, and family therapy.  Treatment can last from five weeks to six months depending when depressive symptoms begin to diminish (Petersen et. al., 1993). Hankin (2005) observed that cognitive-behavioral (CBT) can be utilized to treat depression among teenagers.

Barriers to Depression
Wisdom, Clarke, and Green (2006) report that only half of the teenagers who suffer from depression seek therapy.  Wisdom, Clarke, and Green (2006) observed that teenagers do not seek therapy because they are not comfortable with sharing their “personal” issues with a therapist.  Teenagers are careful in regards to confidentiality, and fear that the therapist will reveal their intimate issues discussed in session (Wisdom, Clarke, & Green, 2006).   In other words, teenagers fear that what is consulted during therapy session will be share with their parents. Teenagers fear to loose confidentiality and be labeled at school.  They also fear rejection from their peers.  There is a stigma among mental health that if you seek therapy, then you must be crazy.  Which is why we can make a difference and always offer grace to those suffering a mental illness.  Depression is real, serious and common.

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References available upon request.

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