Adolescent Depression: Symptoms & Treatments

adolescent depressionIt is normal for every person to feel “blue” sometimes, but these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days.[1] However, this isn’t the case with depression—it lasts for a longer time. Depression interferes with daily life, and is a common, yet serious, illness.1 Many adolescents experience depression, and although it can be treated, many do not receive care for a variety of reasons.1 However, untreated adolescent depression can increase the person’s risk of suicide.1 Therefore, more should take advantage of the effective treatments that are available for adolescent depression.1

The DSM-5 is used to diagnose psychiatric disorders, and describes several forms of depressive disorders: major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and minor depression.1 Major depressive disorder is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with the adolescent’ ability to eat, sleep, study, and enjoy pleasurable activities.1 Dysthymic disorder is characterized by long-term symptoms, but they are not severe enough to disable a person.1 They can prevent a person from functioning normally or feeling well, but it is not as severe as major depression.1 Minor depression is characterized as having symptoms that do not meet the full criteria for major depression.1 These people are at a high risk of developing major depressive disorder.1

It is important to watch for signs of adolescent depression.1 It is common for an adolescent with depression to have persistent sad or empty feelings, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, feeling worthless, lose interest in their activities and hobbies, and be more fatigued.1 Some have difficulty concentrating and remembering details, and others experience physical problems, such as aches and pains, headaches, and digestive problems.1 Some overeat, while others do not eat enough.1 Sleeping too much or too little is also common.1 The risk of suicide heightens.1

Adolescents who are depressed often have multiple episodes as they grow older into adulthood.1 They may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, sulk, be negative and irritable, feel misunderstood, and/or get into trouble at school.1 It is difficult, as most of these signs are normal developmental mood changes.1

Adolescent depression comes at a time of great personal change, as teens are forming their own identities and dealing with gender issues and emerging sexuality.1 Depression can frequently co-occur with other disorders, such as anxiety, eating disorders, or substance abuse.1 If left untreated, it can get much worse.1

When an adolescent is depressed, they need professional treatment.1 They need emotional support and understanding, a listening ear, and to not have their feelings dismissed.1 Adolescent depression is a sensitive issue, and needs to be dealt with in a compassionate manner.1

[1] Turner, E. A. (2014, April 5). Adolescent Depression: Symptoms and Solutions. Psychology Today. Retrieved April 9, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-race-good-health/201404/adolescent-depression-symptoms-and-solutions

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