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What are the signs and symptoms of Depression in teenagers?

Dr. Ajay KohliNov 23, 2022

Teenage Depression is a serious mental health issue. Depression can interfere with teenagers’ daily activities and affect their performance at school/college. Symptoms of depression vary in adults and teenagers, and hence it is important for parents to know and identify them when they happen. Identifying depression at its initial stages is crucial for getting help and managing it. Read ahead to know more about the signs and symptoms of Depression in teenagers.

Depression in Teenagers

Contents

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What Depression does to your teenager?

Depression can affect how a child functions. This can be evident in how they show no more interest in things that they once enjoyed. A teenager’s sense of awe and wonder is lost. This is an especially important characteristic for them, as wonder and curiosity are key to their learning and investing in different things. Depression can affect how the teenager thinks, feels, and behaves. It can cause emotional, functional, and physical problems.

Some of the emotional and behavioural changes observed in teenagers are discussed below.

KEY Emotional changes to look for

  • Feeling sad and sometimes crying for no particular reason

  • Feeling hopeless or empty

  • Frustration or feelings of anger, even over trivial things

  • Easily or always irritable

  • In an annoyed mood

  • Low self-esteem

  • Fixated to feelings of guilt or worthlessness

  • Fixated on past failures

  • Extreme fear of rejection or failure

  • Loss of interest to interact with family and friends

  • Lacks self-belief or needs excessive reassurance 

  • Trouble thinking or remembering things

  • Decreased problem-solving ability

  • Difficulty in decision making

  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide

KEY Behavioural changes to look for

  • Self-isolation

  • Always feeling tired

  • Insomnia or sleeping too much

  • Extreme increase or decrease in appetite resulting in sudden weight gain or weight loss

  • Agitation or restlessness

  • Always nervous

  • Use of alcohol or drugs

  • Frequently falling ill, or complaining of frequent unexplained body aches and frequent headaches

  • Sudden anger outbursts

  • Loss of interest in personal hygiene

  • Self-harm or doing risky things

  • Suicide attempts

Symptoms Of Depression In Teenagers

Causes of Teenage Depression

Because every child and mind are unique, so are the causes of depression. However, it is not entirely unknown, some of the possible reasons could be as follows.

  • Social status with peers

  • Feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy over their grades

  • Family life can have a major effect

  • Environment stress

  • Being bullied

Why is early intervention critical?

Early intervention of depression is critical in teenagers because it can cause lifelong issues. It can take a toll on their self-image and impact their future. However, social learning is just as important as academic learning during adolescence. Deficits in social skills not only put depressed teenagers behind their peers, but they can also exacerbate their depression.

When to see a doctor?

It is important to talk to your teenager about the signs of depression, and the damage it's causing to them. When the communication is not helping, and the situation seems to be going out of control or the teenagers seem too lost to effectively communicate with you, it is best to seek professional help.

Warning signs that indicate your teenager needs help include: 

  • Repeated suicidal attempts

  • Persistent symptoms (No improvement in mental health)

  • Becoming totally detached with reality

Encourage your teenage child to seek help by many ways, such as:

  • Listening to your child

  • Talk to a healthcare provider

  • Reach out to a close friend or loved one

  • Encourage and provide change in environment

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here’s a list of common questions and answers about Depression in teenagers.

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Can Teenage Depression run in families?

Yes. Depression, which typically begins between the ages of 15 and 30, can run in families. 

Is depression a mental illness?

Yes, clinical depression is a serious, but treatable, mental illness. It is a medical condition, not a personal weakness. It is also quite common.

How is Teen Depression diagnosed?

There are no specific medical tests that can detect depression. Health care professionals thoroughly examine the teenager by conducting interviews and psychological tests. This is both done for the teenagers, their families, and close friends, if possible.

The severity of the teen depression and the risk of suicide are determined based on the assessment of these interviews. The data gathered from the interviews is also used to make treatment recommendations.

In addition, the doctor will look for signs of potentially co-occurring psychiatric disorders such as anxiety or substance abuse, as well as screen for complex forms of depression such as bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness) or psychosis. The doctor will also evaluate the teen for suicidal or homicidal tendencies. Females have a higher rate of attempted suicide and self-mutilation than males, while males have a higher rate of completed suicide. The 18 to 24 age group is one of the most vulnerable to completed suicide.

How is depression treated in teenagers?

Depression is treated in teenagers with both depression medication and psychotherapy. 

Sometimes, the family is suggested therapy as family could be the major contributing factor for depression. Sometimes, counselling or therapy classes are also given to the schoolteachers or their peers, if they are also the cause of the depression in the teenager.

Once the root cause of depression is known, the treatment method is decided by the health care provider. Depending on the severity of the depression, the treatment can be based on antidepressants alone or psychotherapy or a combination of both. Sometimes, the child might need extra behavioural classes to improve communication and social skills.

Can diet help with depression?

There is no specific diet that can help with depression. But along with medications along with counselling and lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet can help boost a person's overall well-being. Such foods include the following.

  • Fatty fish

  • Olive oil

  • Low-fat dairy

  • Whole grain foods

  • Lean protein

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Nuts

  • Olive oil

References:

https://suicideprevention.nv.gov/Youth/Depression/ 

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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