Sufferers of teenage depression are more likely to attempt suicide. Among teenagers who develop depression, as many as 7% will commit suicide as young adults. Teenage depression, feelings of sadness and hopelessness, can last for weeks and even months and can eventually dominate teenagers’ lives. They begin to lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, and relationships with family and friends deteriorate. Some teens turn to drugs and alcohol to mask the pain of teenage depression.
There is an estimated 5% of 9 to17 year-olds suffering from depression in any given 6-month period. In 2002, doctors wrote almost 11 million prescriptions for antidepressants to teenagers and children. That represents nearly 8 % of all prescriptions written for depression in the United States. Studies show, out of 100 patients given prescription drugs, 2 or 3 more will become suicidal than would have had they been given placebos.
Depression in teens can lead to poor school attendance and performance. Often teenage depression is left untreated because people fail to recognize the symptoms. People view it as normal sadness or as a sign of weakness. It is important to distinguish between normal sadness and teenage depression.
The following are common symptoms of teenage depression:
- Sad or irritable mood
- Changes in appetite or weight (including weight gain or weight loss)
- Sleep difficulty or oversleeping
- Excessive tiredness
- Guilt and feelings of worthlessness
- Loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed
- Difficulty concentrating in school or other activities
- Thoughts of suicide
Most teens will experience these symptoms at some point in their teenage years. However, if these symptoms continue for an extended period of time, they should be taken to their doctor for a complete physical and possible treatment for teenage depression. Some teenagers experience a single episode of depression in their lives, while others may experience many separate incidents. Frequent headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or tiredness not linked to a medical condition are additional symptoms that may be normal in an adult’s life, but should be monitored in a teenager.
There are several forms of teenage depression. Teenage dysthymia is a less severe form of chronic depression, which can interfere with a teenager’s ability to enjoy their youth and get the most out of life. Cyclothymia, a mild form of bipolar disorder, involves mild mood swings from periods of depression to periods of high energy. Reactionary depression is another form of teenage depression that is caused by a major event in a teenager’s life such as loss of a parent, break-up of a romantic relationship, learning disorder, abuse, or a chronic illness.
Often teenage depression is offset by a learning disorder or poor performance in school. Teenagers suffering from attention deficit may suffer similar symptoms related to that of depression. Attention deficit disorder is a neurochemical imbalance in children, teenagers, and adults that hinders their everyday lives at school or work.
Teenage depression can make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Keep in mind that these negative views are part of the illness. Teenage depression must be treated before it significantly affects their adult lives. The use of drugs and alcohol can lead to depression, but it is more common for people who are depressed to seek out drugs and alcohol.