Teen Depression: (Adolescent Depression)

Teen Depression: (Adolescent Depression)

Introduction to teen depression

Adolescence is another way of addressing a teenager.

Teen depression is a disorder of the mental and emotional health of a teenager. It is consequent upon depression, that is, it stems from depression. Teen depression can be expressed in a variety of ways. It is not that depression is exclusive to teenagers; adults also do experience depression a whole lot. But the difference between these two worlds is the fact that teenagers have challenges relating to changes in their body and adapting to their environment.

Some of these peculiar challenges are:

  • changing hormonal levels
  • peer pressure
  • sports
  • maturing bodies

Depression is often accompanied by very high levels of stress. Anxiety and in extreme cases, suicidal actions can also come alongside depression. And any of these can affect an adolescent’s:

  • family life
  • social life
  • school life
  • personal life
  • work-life

It can even precipitate into social isolation and so many untold problems.

Depression is definitely a medical disorder that can permeate every aspect of one’s life if caution is not taken to treat it on time.

How to identify teen depression

From estimates, especially those submitted by American Family Physician, give or take 15 percent of teens have some depression symptoms.

Depression symptoms can oftentimes be very hard for parents to recognize. In fact, its symptoms can be confused with typical teenage adjustment and pubertal feelings.

However, it is important to bring to your notice that depression is far greater than disinterest in school activities or even boredom. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has put forward that certain signs usually accompany adolescent depression. A roll down of these common signs:

  • sad looks
  • concentration issues
  • irritable
  • tearful
  • Loss of appetite
  • lowered interest in those activities your child had always found exciting
  • low energy levels
  • social withdrawal symptoms
  • guilt
  • sleeping habit fluctuations
  • helplessness
  • excessive boredom
  • worthlessness
  • suicidal attempts
  • low academic grades

See, not all of these symptoms will always be depression signs. If you’ve stayed with or brought up a teenager, you will agree with me that they have appetite changes often. This is a good sign that a teenager is growing fast to attain an adult body shape. This is called growth spurts. A teenager will even eat more if he is active in sports.

But this shouldn’t dissuade you from looking out for these signs in your teenager: it will place you in a position of offering timely help to him when appropriate.

Suicide prevention

If you find a teenager who is in imminent danger of harming himself, or hurting someone else, swing into the following actions:

  • Call 911 or any emergency number in your locality.
  • Remain with the teen until you are able to receive help from others.
  • Remove the harmful objects around him –knives, guns, drugs, knives, etc.
  • Listen to the teen. It is not the best time to yell at him/her, judge, threaten, or argue.

Having the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number readily accessible can help you help a teenager in need of help! Get it?  And here’s the lifeline: 800-273-8255!

What causes teen depression?

The causes are not traceable to a single cause. Different things sum up to bring about adolescent depression. Mayo Clinic has done a great job in listing out some of these probable factors. Here they are:

Differences in the Brain

Based on researches that have been made thus far, it has been discovered that adolescents have got structural differences in their brain when compared with adults’.

Also going further, it has been searched out that adolescents suffering from depression will likely have hormonal differences and neurotransmitter level differences. Neurotransmitters are deeply into signaling in the brain and they are king in behavior and mood regulations.

Traumatic Events

Most adolescents lack well-developed stress coping mechanisms. One traumatic event and they are down with emotional stress that can sum up into depression.

Instances like the death of a loved one, sexual abuse, threats from people, etc. can imprint long-lasting impacts on an adolescent’s brain. It can result in depression.

Inherited Traits

Research has it that depression has some biological linkage. Parents can ‘sow’ some depression gene into their unborn children. Children who grow up to see family members with depression, especially any of the parents, are more likely suffer same sooner or later.

Learned Patterns of Negative Thinking

Teens that are often exposed to pessimistic thought patterns from people who have a strong influence on them (i.e. parents) will follow suit sooner or later.

How teen depression can be diagnosed

Either a psychiatrist or a psychologist will perform some psychological evaluations on the child. The evaluations will comprise questions about their thoughts, moods, and behaviors. But there are criteria that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM) has laid down that every teen must meet before he can be diagnosed with teen depression. Also important to remember is the fact that the teen must have nothing less than two major episodes of depression for a minimum of two weeks before he can be diagnosed with the disorder. An episode must have not less than five of the following symptoms:

  • insomnia and sometimes, excessive sleeping
  • depression
  • low concentration ability
  • noticeable psychomotor retardation
  • low interest virtually in all activities
  • fatigue
  • recurring death thoughts
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • feelings of guilt
  • agitation
  • significant weight gain and weight loss at times

Because other medical conditions can elicit depressive symptoms, an adolescent child might have to be physically examined to rule out such possibilities that could exist.

Treating teen depression

Since no single cause has been attached to teen depression, its treatment will equally have no single approach. It can take a mental health doctor some good time to arrive at a treatment choice for the disorder because he will have to do a whole lot of trials and errors.


Numerous forms of medications are available for the alleviation of teen depression symptoms. The commonest forms are:

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs are really at the top of the list amongst antidepressant medications. This is so because of how great they are in inducing minimal side effects when taken. SSRIs selectively act on serotonin by allowing it to stay longer at the site of the signaling cells where it is needed for transmission processes in the brain. Documented findings have it that people suffering from depression generally are probably going to have abnormal amounts of the neurotransmitters involved in mood control.

Presently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following SSRIs:

  • sertraline (Zoloft)
  • fluvoxamine (aka Luvox)
  • citalopram (aka Celexa)
  • fluoxetine (aka Prozac)
  • paroxetine (aka Pexeva, Paxil)
  • escitalopram (aka Lexapro)

Popularly reported side effects of SSRIs include:

If your child is having side effects that interfere with his quality of life, do well to notify your doctor.

Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

SNRIs stop the prevention of the reabsorption of two neurotransmitters – serotonin and norepinephrine. These two hormones help in mood regulation. Their side effects have been outlined below:

  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • constipation
  • nausea and vomiting
  • headaches

Duloxetine (branded as Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (branded as Effexor) are the two well-known SNRIs.

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

TCAs, just like SSRIs and SNRIs act to block dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine reuptake at their transmission sites.

 Unlike non-TCA antidepressants, TCAs have been highly rated to cause more side effects. They include:

TCAs aren’t useful for people with poor health states such as glaucoma, heart disease, prostate enlargement amongst others because they can worsen these problems.

Commonly administered TCAs are:

  • protriptyline (aka Vivactil)
  • amoxapine
  • clomipramine (aka Anafranil), which is used for obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • amitriptyline
  • doxepin (aka Sinequan)
  • imipramine (aka Tofranil)
  • nortriptyline (aka Pamelor)
  • desipramine (aka Norpramin)
  • trimipramine (aka Surmontil)

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

MAOIs were the very first set of antidepressants that made waves in the market. But it’s an irony that today they are not in any way close to one of the quick-to-recommend antidepressants. It has become so due to the complications, side effects and restrictions they cause.

MAOIs block other neurotransmitters in the brain aside from dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Their side effects are clearly written out just here:

  • light-headedness
  • low blood pressure
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • dry mouth

MAOIs mustn’t be taken with certain foods and beverages such as:

Easily accessible MAOIs are:

  • tranylcypromine (aka Parnate)
  • phenelzine (aka Nardil)
  • isocarboxazid (aka Marplan)
  • selegiline (aka Emsam)

FDA requires that manufacturers of all antidepressant-related medications include a “black-box warning” on the drug pack. This “black box warning” is in a black box at the offset of the box. The warning inscription should read that antidepressant medications use in young adults between ages 18 – 24 years are linked with increased risks for suicidal actions.


Get an adolescent who is going through depression to see a mental health professional as soon as now! This should be prior to or at the same time when the medication therapy commences. A smart look at the different therapy types available for treatment:

  • Talk therapy: It is another way of referring to counseling sessions with a psychologist. It’s very common. Sessions have to be regular until the teen is fine.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: The outcome expected here is the total replacement of negative emotions and thought patterns with positive ones.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: This approach works on the teen’s psyche. The aim is to penetrate into his inner struggles, conflicts, and, the stress in order to help him handle them.
  • Problem-solving therapy: The teen will be helped to see certain life-changing events such as the death of a loved one, with optimistic eyes.


Regular exercise can stimulate exciting feelings because of the chemical that it releases. Get your child in any sport he/she is fascinated about. Games that encourage physical activities should be noted, too.


See to it that your adolescent children get enough sleep and have a working time for going to bed and waking up. It will be beneficial in checkmating mood syndromes.

Balanced Diet

The body requires more energy to breakdown diets high in sugar and diet. What this means is this: overall body processes will be slowed. These foods can make you feel sluggish. You should make it a duty to give your adolescent children foods not packed with any of those. Rather, your adolescents should be fed more with variety of nutritious foods.

Avoid Excess Caffeine

Caffeine can for a short time take down moody feelings. Regular use of it can get your teen to feel tired or down.

Abstain from Alcohol

Drinking should be done away with.

Living with teen depression

Teen depression usually comes with impacts that are profound on the affected child. It is another minus to the already teeming challenges that teenage years bring. Teen depression is not easy to diagnose. However, your child can get better once treatment suits cause.

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