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Depression in childhood and adolescence.

13 January, 2021 - By Bhanu

Do you ever wonder whether your irritable or unhappy adolescent might actually be experiencing teen depression? Of course, most teens feel unhappy at times. And when you add hormone havoc to the many other changes happening in a teen's life, it's easy to see why their moods swing like a pendulum. Yet findings show that one out of every eight adolescents has teen depression. But depression can be treated as well as the serious problems that come with it. Sometimes, the feelings of sadness go on for weeks or months and affect everyday life. If a young person feels miserable most of the time and finds it difficult to get motivated, they may have depression – a serious illness that can affect people of all ages. 

Suicide is a common cause of death in young people, so depression should be taken seriously.

Why do adolescents get depression?

There are multiple reasons why a teenager might become depressed. For example, teens can develop feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy over their grades. School performance, social status with peers, sexual orientation, or family life can each have a major effect on how a teen feels. Sometimes, teen depression may result from environmental stress. But whatever the cause, when friends or family -- or things that the teen usually enjoys -- don't help to improve their sadness or sense of isolation, there's a good chance that they have teen depression.

What are the symptoms of teen depression?

Often, kids with teen depression will have a noticeable change in their thinking and behavior. They may have no motivation and even become withdrawn, closing their bedroom door after school and staying in their room for hours.

Kids with teen depression may sleep excessively, have a change in eating habits, and may even exhibit criminal behaviors such as DUI or shoplifting. Here are more signs of depression in adolescents even though they may or may not show all signs:

  • Apathy
  • Complaints of pains, including headaches, stomachaches, low back pain, or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • 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
  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Rebellious behavior
  • Sadness, anxiety, or a feeling of hopelessness
  • 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

Suicide or self-harm : Depression is one of the major risk factors for suicide and self-harm. If a young person is self-harming or talking about suicide, it is important that they talk with close and trusted people in their lives, such as family or friends.
Help them to be safe and remove dangerous items, such as medication, guns or other dangerous items, and encourage them to see a healthcare professional. In case of an emergency, call 9152987821 and ask for help.

What causes depression in young people?

Depression is a mental illness, and it is one of the most common health problems for young people in Australia. Many different factors and life circumstances can contribute to anxiety and depression in young people. These can include:

  • fights with family or friends.
  • changing schools or starting secondary school.
  • being bullied.
  • experiencing a relationship break-up, recent death, abuse or neglect.

Sometimes depression is caused by genetic factors, or biological factors like chemical imbalances. 

In all cases, it is important that depression is diagnosed and treated early.

Treatments for depression in young people:

Encourage young people to talk about how they feel with someone they know and trust, such as a parent, teacher, school counsellor, family member or friend.

An important next step is for the young person to visit their doctor to learn whether they have depression and what can be done to treat it. Support for people with depression can include psychological therapy that focuses on building skills to deal with life stresses and to change negative thinking patterns.

Your doctor may also add antidepressant medication to the treatment plan. It can take up to six weeks to feel better after treatment with medication begins, but most young people will notice an improvement. Encourage them to speak with their doctor about any changes in their moods.

Self-help tips for improving mental health include:

  • exercising regularly
  • eating healthy food
  • practising relaxation techniques
  • doing something enjoyable.

Many people find it hard to ask for professional help and sometimes young people do not want to go to a healthcare professional. If this is the case, you could let them know that depression is common and that you are concerned. 

Thankyou for reading!

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