Depression In Adolescents: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

While all teens go through periods of sadness and lack of interest, depression is a mental disorder that can lead to experiencing such feelings consistently and cannot be treated without the help of a trained psychologist. While it can be difficult to determine whether your child is suffering from depression or just the usual teenage angst, the below overview can help you to better understand what depression is and what causes it, as well as symptoms to look out for and available treatment options.  

What is Depression and What Causes It?

Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent and severe sadness and despondency, and is seen in 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, ages 12 to 19.

While depression can be genetically-linked, it can also be seen in individuals who've suffered a stressful or traumatic life event, such as the death of a loved one or persistent bullying. Depression can be short-term or long-term, though help should be sought for both kinds. Whatever the cause, however, it's important for your child to understand that they didn't cause the illness and should not feel ashamed of their depression.

What are Symptoms to Look for?

Symptoms vary from person to person, but there are a number of red flags to look for in your child.

Irritability, changes in activity levels, loss of interest in hobbies, insomnia, and excessive sleeping are all signs of depression to be aware of. Other characteristics are feelings of sadness and anxiety, feelings of worthlessness and helplessness, and thoughts of suicide or self harm. While you can't know for sure what your child is feeling, the symptoms above can give you an idea that your child is feeling such things and can lead you to seek appropriate treatment for them.  

How is Depression Treated?

Treatment of depression will include two major aspects – counseling and medication.

Since depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, adolescents suffering from depression are usually put on an anti-depression medication. Requiring the help of medication doesn't make your child weak and isn't a cop-out – instead, it's a necessity to get the chemical levels in the brain back to where they should be. Even if on medication, however, counseling is still required to tackle the bigger issues and to help your child cope with the day-to-day symptoms they may still face.

If you're concerned that your child is suffering from depression, it's best to consult with an adolescent psychologist immediately. Even if your child is reluctant to seek treatment and may not seem to open up with their psychologist in the beginning, this is one battle worth fighting.