Teenage Depression remains one of the most worrying and insidious psychological afflictions in modern society. This condition is most prevalent among boys fourteen to twenty years old, early detection and help are imperative to your child’s future.
This is the period in a teenager’s life when they are developing the long-term basis of their personalities. This is also a time where influences and experimentation abound – from dizzying first-time romances and the gradual fragmentation of childhood friendships.
The worst part about teen depression is its seemingly asymptomatic pathway. Most of the time, adults fail to observe changes that occur in teenagers such as high anger and depression – until it is too late.
Therefore it is important to keep a watchful eye out for the subtle signs of teenage depression currently stifling the daily existence of your teenage child.
Here are some behaviors that may signal teenage depression.
- Sudden Changes in Energy Levels
In general, there are two forms of depression – bipolar and unipolar disorders. In the case of the former, sufferers tend to exhibit sudden changes in temperament that may confound those around them.
For example, at one moment, your teenager may seem extremely eager to schedule tons of social activities and the next moment, they are locking themselves up in the room and listening to loud music or playing video games for days at a time.
Sudden changes in behavior are common signs of bipolar depression. This refers to an extreme fluctuation of mood – between mania (extreme levels of happiness) and depression (deepest depths of sorrow), which often overwhelms sufferers.
Parents may offer some solace by recommending a family activity that breaks the depressive cycle. If your child takes up you on this, it is important to keep the conversation lighthearted without sounding too overbearing. You want your teen to open up without triggering any alarms.
- Lingering Sleep Issues
The circadian rhythm (natural sleep cycle) is often disrupted when individuals fall into a state of depression. This phenomenon is caused by an imbalance in neurotransmitters that are usually responsible for restful sleep.
Due to disrupted sleep patterns, teens may fail to catch up on the sleep they need for optimal daily function. You may discover the source of the sleep disturbance – is it due to a pressing deadline for a school project? Is it due to the excitement for an upcoming dance party or date? If there are no good reasons for this type of behavior talk to him or her – it is time to talk things out.
Some individuals suffer on the other end of the spectrum, preferring to sleep away most of their waking hours as a means of disengaging themselves from the real world.
Also, it is important to be on the lookout for sleeping pills. Some teenagers may abuse over-the-counter medication as a quick fix for their sleeping woes. These may be extremely dangerous when mixed with alcohol and other prescriptions.
- Drastic Changes in Appetite
Long-term depression affects the hormonal levels within the body, such as ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is responsible for regulation hunger – which moderates food intake. Leptin, on the other hand, is a hormone behind the feeling of fullness.
The disruptions in sleep patterns caused by depression affect the production of both hormones, which causes a major change in appetite. If your teenager has been binge-eating or cutting down on meal intake of late, it might be an early sign of depression that should be closely examined.
- Changes in Concentration Levels
Depression causes the formation of erratic thoughts (e.g. delusional feelings of guilt, unworthiness, and hopelessness). As a result, this may impede the thinking process of sufferers. If your usually witty teen starts to stare into space or seems slower at picking up social cues, there may be something ominous lurking on their mind.
Try engaging your teen with some “brainy content” to distract themselves from the negative thoughts. This could be as simple as watching a movie together or taking a trip to the local art museum or favorite family hangout.
A Treatable Condition
Depression, however, is a highly treatable condition.
Major depression (the most common form of depression) is believed to affect 1/20 individuals in their lifetime. Children today start exhibiting symptoms at a much earlier age due to the rapid spread of information, social media, and mobile devices, which contributes to a faster rate of maturity.
Psychologists believe that depression has a variety of common causes, mainly from lasting childhood experiences – sometimes due to the loss of one parent or social rejection and abuse in school. As children develop into teenagers, they often carry with them the unresolved conflicts from childhood, which results in depressive disorders.
Although many teenagers eventually grow out of their symptoms, untreated depression remains a life-threatening problem and is a major cause of suicide among teens today.
Each year, an estimated 5000 youths between the age of 15-24 commit suicide due to depression. The number has tripled since the 1960s and is documented as the third leading cause of death in college-age youth.
Seeking prompt professional treatment for a teenage boy suffering from ongoing depression will help your child come to terms with his condition while facilitating his path toward recovery with the right support.
Through a careful combination of cognitive and drug therapies, experts can alleviate symptoms and restore normalcy to the life of your teen. Together, parents and communities around the world can unite to spread the knowledge on this silent enemy and eliminate its harms from the modern world.
If your child is or has been treated for depression with little improvement, call our admissions counselors to see whether the Wood Creek Academy therapeutic residential treatment program is a fit for your specific situation.