Teenagers are depicted to have a carefree life, full of excitement and always seeking for thrill and adventure. That’s why when we hear stories of teenagers going down the slope of depression, and some even taking their own lives, we immediately ask why or what makes them so depressed at a very young age.
Causes of teen depression
First of all, depression is described as a low emotional state that makes the person withdraw from normal activities. “Depression symptoms take many forms, and no two people’s experiences are exactly alike. A person who’s suffering from this disorder may not seem sad to others.” John M. Grohol, Psy.D. said. However, usually, this can happen after suffering from a loss or grief. There will be times in a person’s life to feel depressed, but can eventually recover and go back to usual activities again. In clinical depression, this is when the person goes into an abyss of hopelessness, feelings of doom and desperation, which can sometimes lead to suicides if not immediately discovered and remedied.
There are many elements linked to teen depression. It can be one cause or combination of several factors that help develop the psychological condition. Experts in adolescent psychiatry have identified several predisposing and possible factors that cause teen depression.
- Dysfunctional family – A teenager who comes from a broken home and/or troubled home environment are more likely to develop depression.
- School related factors – There is academic pressure to stay in school, peer pressure to be accepted in a social circle, bullying by other students that can lead to the depressed state, if the teenager is unable to meet all of these challenges.
- Substance abuse – Teenagers tend to experiment with drugs and alcohol. If the case worsens, it can lead to depression and other mental disorders.
- Poverty – Living in a low-income family life, where the ability to secure material resources and even the basic necessities are scarce, can lead to a depressing situation where teenagers sometimes cannot adapt and accept. “Being in a low socioeconomic group is a risk factor for depression. This may be due to factors such as perceived low social status, cultural factors, financial problems, stressful environments, social isolation, and greater daily stress.”As explained by Ben Martin, Psy.D.
- Traumatic events like losing a significant other or suffering from a very traumatic accident that leads to physical defect or loss of limb.
- Romantic problems – Teenagers’ milestone is to establish or create intimate relationships with the opposite/same sex. If they encounter problems within the relationship, especially a heartbreak, this can also predispose to depression
- Low self-esteem as a result from being harassed, physical defect, etc, can also develop into depressive states.
- History of depression in the family – Research shows that heredity also plays a major role in the development of depression. There is an increased likelihood of experiencing depression if one of the family members have it.
Why should we be alarmed?
In adolescents, when we see them sad or looking disinterested, we just think that it’s part of their natural emotional state as teens tend to get moody at this stage. They will exhibit happiness today and then get depressed the next day. But, it is critical to watch out for warning signs of clinical depression so as to intervene immediately:
- Alterations in sleeping patterns – excessive sleeping and insomnia
- Loss of weight and/or weight gain
- Lack of interest in activities
- Poor academic performance or low grades in school
- Distancing from usual friends and families
- Emotional states like sadness, anger, hopelessness, irritability
Early intervention is possible by referring the teenager to a general practitioner, and eventually to a psychologist or psychiatrist if needed. Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC often says, “The best person to evaluate which medication for depression is most appropriate for you is a Psychiatrist.”