A depressive disorder is a disease that affects mood, thoughts and behavior. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. The greatest obstacle to treating depression is lack of recognition. When a "bad day" turns into a bad week, month, or more, there may be a medical explanation for this change in behavior or feelings of hopelessness. Fortunately, appropriate treatment can help more than 90% of those who suffer from depression.
Teenage depression is a growing problem in today's society and is often a major contributing factor for a multitude of adolescent problems. The statistics about teenage runaways, alcoholism, drug problems, pregnancy, eating disorders, and suicide are alarming.
Depression is a murky pool of feelings and actions scientists have been trying to understand since the days of Hippocrates, who called it a "black bile." It has been called "the common cold of mental illness and, like the cold, it's difficult to quantify." (Arbetter 1) For a long time, people who were feeling depressed were told to "snap out of it."
According to a study done by National Institute of Mental Health, half of all Americans still view depression as a personal weakness or character flaw. Depression, however, is considered a medical disorder and can affect thoughts, feelings, physical health, and behaviors. It interferes with daily life such as school, friends, and family. "Clinical depression is the most incapacitating of all chronic conditions in terms of social functioning."
Teenagers have always been vulnerable to depression for a variety of reasons. It's a confusing time of life because a teen's body is changing along with their relationships. "Teenagers constantly vacillate between strivings for independence from family and regressions to childish dependence on it."
But today's teens face an additional challenge: They're growing up in a world quite different from that of their parent's youth. Adolescents today are faced with stresses that were unknown to previous generations and are dealing with them in an often self-destructive way. Contemporary society has changed the perception of teenagers. New parental lifestyles, combined with changes in the economy, often give less time and energy for parents to devote to their offspring. Society all too often views teens for what they can be instead of for who they are. Who they are becomes the identity of teenagers today. "They are confronted with the ambiguity of education, the dissolution of family, the hostile commercialism of society, and the insecurity of relationships." This identity is fragile and is threatened by fears of rejection, feelings of failure, and of being different.
These young people face stress in school as well with resources dwindling and campus violence and harassment increasing. Their sexual awakening comes in the age of AIDS, when sex can kill. In summary, teens today feel less safe, less empowered and less hopeful than we did a generation ago. Depression is a common concomitant to this struggle. It strikes 5% of teens and about 2% of children under 12. One in three adolescents in the nineties is at risk for serious depression.
Depression is the result of a complex mix of social, psychological, physical, and environmental factors. Teens with depressed parents are two to three times more likely to develop major depression. Key indicators of adolescent depression include a drastic change in eating and sleeping patterns, significant loss of interest in previous activity interests (Blackman, 1995;), constant boredom, disruptive behavior, peer problems, increased irritability and aggression (Brown, 1996). Blackman (1995) proposed that "formal psychologic testing may be helpful in complicated presentations that do not lend themselves easily to diagnosis." For many teens, symptoms of depression are directly related to low self esteem stemming from increased emphasis on peer popularity. For other teens, depression arises from poor family relations which could include decreased family support and perceived rejection by parents
Gender differences are becoming apparent, with girls having more difficulty with depression. Studies show girls are three times more likely than boys to suffer depression. A university study showed a close link between depression and negative body image and girls are usually more self-conscious about their bodies than boys.
It's hard to detect depression in teens because it's a developmental stage characterized by considerable anger and withdrawal. Adolescents don't necessarily look sad and depressed and its normal for teens to have mood swings but within limits. A depressed teen
Throughout the nation and our world people are suffering from this disease. Depression effects people of both genders, all ages, and any background. People once believed that teens never went through any form of severe depression. Some still believe this to be true, but if it were why are teens homicidal and suicidal? This report should give support for the fact that a teen’s depression deserves attention, not the shrug of the shoulders or the turn of a back.
Depression is defined as the point or points is ones lifetime when they are mentally unstable and the emotional state marked by sadness, discouragement, and loss that can occur during the teenage years. Depression causes changes in behavior, thinking and especially changes in ones everyday life. “Depression amongst teens generally starts when a child hits puberty, but could possibly begin the day they were born if chemically inbalanced (heredity).” Dr. David Kalkstein, psychiatrist at Penn Foundation. Depression can effect anyone, anytime, and anywhere. Teens, children, and adults are all effected, some even have the same problems in common, the causes too. Depression is experienced mostly by teens even though it is mistakenly classified as an “adult illness”. “Twenty percent of high school students are deeply unhappy or have some kind of psychiatric problem.” The causes for depression in teens are sometimes more harsh than the causes in adults. In a teen’s lifetime they have to face many problems and sometimes they have to face these problems more than once. Teens have to deal with peer pressure problems at school, problems at home, the deaths of loved ones, and if they are already using drugs this could also be a cause. Many teens also have to deal with the point in their life when they wonder if they are attractive to other people, of the opposite sex. If they do believe that they are unattractive they will most likely feel as though they have failed at something. Then they will act as if they do not care anymore, then the uncaring attitude increases until they no longer care about much at all. Depression also comes after a teenager is trying to learn about himself or herself and understand their body, and their emotions towards others.
Sometimes these emotions have to deal with homosexuality and finding out whether or not they like people of the same gender. To many people the idea of homosexuality is disgusting and most people know how others feel about it, so when someone who thinks that he or she is gay, they feel out of place, especially if their family, friends, and loved ones are homophobic. Another cause of depression may be the Acne drug, Accutane. There was a study on this drug. Researchers have tested Accutane on one person and this person used it for a few months, then after a while signs of depression began to appear. When the drug had stopped being used by the person, the signs of the depression cleared. Another cause of depression is said to be smoking, and that most depressed teenager’s who are in fact depressed have been smoking. “Teens who smoked were at an increases risk of depression at a 73% higher rate than other teens.” Sometimes teens may be depressed and it will be easy for people to notice, this is not always the case. In every teen’s life, at some point, they are on a roller coaster ride, for this reason it is hard for anyone, even the parents, to distinguish depression from just a plain bad day. This is why it is important for parents to know what to look for, otherwise something bad may happen. One sign to watch for is their grades in school, if you have to, go around and meet with the teachers to see how they are doing in classes and how they are acting when you are not around. As some teens get depressed they sometimes begin not to care for their grades and may not try too hard to keep up in classes. Teens also may begin to isolate themselves from friends and family and only hang around in their room by themselves or try and try to get moments for themselves. If someone’s depressed their sleeping patterns may change, either they’ll sleep all the time, or not at all. They may also act out more, either for the attention, hoping someone will notice their needs or just to irritate others. If you’re depressed you’re often more irritable yourself, you may start to feel guilty but may have no reason to, you may make rash decisions and go through with things without thinking of the outcome. Lastly, you may make the most devastating decision of threatening suicide, or even worse, going through with it.
“Most children suffering from depression don’t say they’re sad. They don’t even appear gloomy,” says child psychiatrist Paramjit Kaur Joshi, M.D. of Johns Hopkins. “Instead, they’re often extremely irritable.” Depression has an effect on a lot of people, most of all the people who care. Depression causes stress on everyone, who is involved with the depressed person, they may try to help but usually the person who is depressed believes that no one cares for them in them and will basically tell everyone and anyone to “take a hike”. Depression in a teen’s life may make the parents feel as if it’s entirely their fault but it’s not. Sometimes which is basically most of the time the effects of depression will take a very drastic turn for the worse. In saying this, I am speaking of suicide.
In some cases teens are able to deal with what they are going through and get the help they need, while others feel there’s not use. Some teens also feel as if they are the cause for everything that has been going wrong all around them, and think that by killing themselves the world would be a better place for everyone. In most cases some parents know, or have an idea, that their child may be suicidal, but usually the topic doesn’t arise. This is because parents believe that if they do talk to their teens about suicide they will get ideas and attempt it to escape any problems. The parents are wrong in doing this because if the teen knows that someone cares they may feel better about everything that has been happening. This way if they are talked to they will be able to express their feelings and maybe get the help that they need and deserve. Suicide occurs when someone has unclear thoughts and they mix with their depression resulting in a deadly outcome. Suicide is the leading killer in the United States among people ages 10-24 and it is the second largest killer for teens ages 15-19, with accidents being the first. Teen suicides are attempted by both male and female. Teen boys are five times more likely to commit suicide over girls, but the girls are more likely to attempt suicide. This is because boys tend to find more violent and successful ways.
Firearms are also used in 50% of all the suicide cases, and the numbers are also increasing. In 1990 alone 12,000 deaths due to suicide were caused by the use of guns. In these 12,000 deaths 2,000 of them were teens. If you are able to steer away from suicide, treatment is key. There are three ways that I know of to help survive depression. The better ways include family members and close loved ones because you know that they really care. Antidepressants are drugs that alter the chemicals in your body to a neutral state, which helps with depression, but sometimes this is not the way to go since people have been known to get a little too addicted. Psychotherapy is one on one sessions with a psychiatrist who may be able to see why you were depressed and help to make you understand yourself and why you feel the ways that you do. The best way to go is Help Groups because this way you are around people that you know have gone through the same kind of thing and will understand you better. But also the reason that this is so good is because you are allowed to bring family and friends so that you will be able to go through it with people who care for you and whom you care about. Everywhere you go, you hear people saying that the children are the future. If these children and teens are depressed now, how will it be in 20 years when they have high ranking jobs which influence everyone so much? They may still be depressed if no one reached out for them and their needs. Don’t forget that they will be paying your social security. Somehow you will have to repay them for that, listening and helping them with their problems now will do just that. As you always hear people say, “It’ll make the world a better place.” The sooner that these teens and children are helped the better. “In this century each generation has experienced major depressions at earlier ages, and the next generations have even higher risks.”
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