A Closer Look at Teenage Depression

Stressful events like school contributes to teenage depression. -photo by Anne Wagner

Stressful events like school contributes to teenage depression. -photo by Anne Wagner

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Stressful events like school contributes to teenage depression. -- Anne Wagner

Two to three of those diagnosed with depression during their adolescence will relapse within two years, and six will relapse by the time they reach adulthood, according to http://depression.emedtv.com/.

Every person occasionally feels sad and unmotivated, but these “blues” do not mean that he or she has depression. That bad mood may be a result of seeing a failed test or undergoing an argument with a friend. These lapses are just temporary, however, and should not cause one to diagnose someone with depression.

In order to diagnose depression, the person in question must have developed certain symptoms of depression which have lasted for at least two weeks. “There must be a clear depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasurea�� as the defining characteristic of a major depressive disorder,” said psychologist Dr. John Lefktowits. Other signs include a significant change in weight, insomnia, hypersomnia, fatigue and feelings of guilt or worthlessness.

Puberty, and the hormones released during puberty, wreaks havoc upon teenage emotions, making a teenager feel happy one moment and upset the next. Teenagers with depression often feel sad, hopeless, anxious, worthless, irritable and restless. These emotions damage the human psyche, causing some teenagers to think about committing suicide and push others to commit suicide.

Depression affects a teenagers’ behavior as well. When a teenager goes through depression, they come reclusive and harbor feelings of sadness and uselessness. This condition negatively affects a student’s performance in school as well as their ability to reason and make the right decision.

School is where the average teenager spends most of his or her day. Counselors listen to students’ problems and help them through the rough patches of their lives but more could be done to prevent students from developing depression. “[I want] a better teacher-student relationship so that students can feel more comfortable [talking] to faculty members,” said freshman Erica Ferguson.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the third leading cause for death for teenagers ages ten to 24. In a CDC conducted survey, 15 percent of the high school age population was found to have considered suicide, and 11 percent was found to have made a plan to commit suicide. 900,000 of those who planned their suicide did so while experiencing a bout of depression.

Furthermore, depression does not affect teenagers of different genders the same way. In the United States, 12.4 percent of girls age 13 to 17 have been diagnosed with depression. Only 4.3 percent of boys in the same age group have developed depression.

A survey done by the National Comorbidity Survey a�� Adolescent Supplement shows that 15.4 percent of 17 to 18 year olds experience depression. “I think it is mainly due to the stress put on them by schools and parents’ They become stressed by the idea that these four years will have a large impact on the rest of [their] life,” said freshman Abigail Broadhurst.

While the development of depression is gradual, there is no single factor that causes the condition. A family history of depression does not mean that one will have depression or that people without a family history of depression will not be affected.

People with pre-existing conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder have a higher risk of developing depression. Ferguson is a student suffering from ADHD. “Because I have ADHD, I’m under a lot more stress, because it’s harder to focus’ It’s not just these disorders that can cause depressiona�� anything really can,” said Ferguson.

Environment also plays a role in the development of depression. Surroundings and life experiences can make one more or less likely to develop depression. High school students that just broke up with a boyfriend or girlfriend or are taking a number of advanced level classes will be under more stress that usual. Depression can be triggered by any stressful situation.

“I would give it time and stay positive,” said Broadhurst when asked what she would do if she was affected by depression. It takes four to six weeks of taking an antidepressant before the patient feels the full effect of the drug. Psychotherapy is used alongside antidepressants to ensure that the person affected is receiving the help that is required.