Teen Depression in the US

The teenage years are hard for everybody. Bodies are changing, peer pressure is constant, and generational gaps seem insurmountable. Fit in with your peers, navigate the choppy waters of dating, do well in school, participate in extracurricular activities, excel at your part-time job, get into a good college, take on serious new responsibilities almost daily, and for goodness sakes, don’t forget to do your household chores! Being a teen is overwhelming and naturally leads to strong emotions. With all of this going on, how is one to know if a teenager is experiencing the normal stress of high school or if there is something more serious going on?

Depression is a serious medical condition that severely affects quality of life for approximately one in twelve teenagers in the United States. This condition is not a matter of weakness or lacking the willpower to “snap out of it;” it affects every area of a person’s well-being and may have serious consequences. While Depression may affect patients at any age, symptoms of Depression in teenagers may vary from symptoms that an adult may experience. Some symptoms teenage Depression sufferers may experience include:

  • Emotional Changes

    • Persistent feelings of sadness

    • Episodes of crying, often with no sufficient explanation

    • Irritability or anger over seemingly insignificant matters

    • Loss of interest in normal activities

    • Isolation from family and/or friends

    • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

    • Dwelling on past failures or shortcomings

    • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure

    • Trouble thinking, concentrating, or remembering

    • Consistent feeling that life and/or the future are meaningless or bleak

    • Preoccupation with death, dying, or suicide

  • Behavioral Changes

    • Lack of energy

    • Poor sleeping patterns – excessive sleeping or inability to sleep

    • Changes in appetite

    • Use of drugs or alcohol

    • Agitation or restlessness

    • Slowed movement, speech, or thought process

    • Frequent explained aches and pains, with headaches being extremely common

    • Uncharacteristically poor performance in school or increased number of absences

    • Lack of interest in appearance or hygiene

    • Disruptive or dangerous behavior

    • Self-harm, such as cutting, burning, or self-hitting

If depression symptoms continue or begin to interfere with a teenager’s life, seeking medical attention is wise. Depression symptoms rarely get better on their own – in fact, they tend to get much worse when left untreated. Depressed teenagers may be at risk of committing suicide, so it is absolutely best to err on the side of caution. If you suspect a teen in your life is suffering Depression, seek help for him/her as soon as possible. As a teenage Depression sufferer, it may feel pointless to ask for help, but this is a trick that a Depressed mind plays on the patient. Help is available and there are people who care. Parents, a close relative, a trusted teacher, a spiritual leader, a family doctor, or even parents of a close friend may be able to help a teen in crisis find the resources to acquire medical attention. Admitting these feelings to somebody you know may be terrifying, embarrassing, and overall dreadful. Hotlines exist to provide support in these situations, such as 1-800-273-TALK. If you believe you or somebody you care about is suffering Depression, do not wait to seek help. Your doctor may prescribe medication or recommend talk therapy, or a combination of both.


This entry was posted in Archives