Adolescent Depression

Adolescence is always an unsettling time, with many physical, emotional, psychological and social changes. Unrealistic academic, social or family expectations can create a strong sense of rejection, leading to disappointment. Studies show that factors like difficult life events, family history of depression, side effects of medications, negative thought patterns and excessive addiction to television and social media contribute to the fluctuations in the teens' moods. If the teens' moods disrupt their ability to function on a day-to-day basis, it may indicate a serious emotional or mental disorder that needs attention.

Adolescent Depression

  • Generally, girls are more susceptible to depression as compared to boys. Teens do not express their feelings, openly. When they feel low, parents and teachers can counsel them to:
  • Be brave and confident
  • Make new friends
  • Regularly exercise and take nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables
  • Choose a new hobby / passion
  • Sometimes, the negative effects of teenage depression go far beyond the melancholy moods, with the following symptoms:
  • Poor school performance
  • Anger, agitation, fatigue
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Lack of concentration
  • Poor self esteem
  • Social withdrawal
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Social stigma usually prevents them from obtaining timely treatment. However if any of the above symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, it is necessary to seek professional treatment.
  • The Paediatrician, in association with the Psychologist / Psychiatrist, does a complete evaluation, taking into account the severity of depression, suicidality, environmental and social factors and gives treatment in the form of:
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy-to change the negative pattern of thinking
  • Interpersonal therapy-to develop a healthy relationship at home and school
  • Psychotherapy- to develop coping skills
  • Pharmacotherapy (if necessary) - to alleviate the symptoms
  • Sometimes, the depression becomes serious and if left untreated, can worsen to a point of becoming life threatening. The teens start viewing the temporary situation as a permanent condition and consider ending their life as a solution for the same.
  • The WARNING SIGNS of severe depression are:
  • Marked changes in personality
  • Bizarre behaviour
  • Obsession with death
  • Poems, essays and drawings referring to death
  • Suicidal threats

As a word of caution, these warning signals should be taken seriously. Prompt professional treatment can have a dramatic impact on their life. It can put them BACK ON TRACK and give a new hope for the FUTURE!

Article by Dr. Pushkala., MS, MBBS, MD, PGDID (AUSTRALIA)
Consultant Paediatrician
Kauvery Hospital, Chennai

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