According to the National Institute on Mental Health, major depression affects up to 13% of 12 to 17-year-olds teens. Adolescence brings new schools and schedules, new fears, loss of friendships, new pressures, more responsibility, and changing bodies and emotions. First presentations of mental health issues often occur during times of transition. And now, after having gone through major lifestyle shifts with COVID, teen depression is a concern for many.
There are various factors contributing to this diagnosis and it can be influenced by one’s individual biology, psychology, and specific environment. In addition, gender, birth weight, sleep schedule, and socioeconomic influences can impact a developing brain. The psychological influences for depression can include teen stress, relationships, puberty, diet, clinical anxiety, and other cognitive or developmental concerns such as learning differences and overall disposition.
What is most important is knowing how to recognize what a teen may be experiencing and best support them through the process. Depression can be co-occurring, and can also be caused as a side effect of other medications, in addition to the other factors we’ve discussed so it is important to be observant of adolescents if you have concerns.
Here are some signs and symptoms to look for if you are worried about depression in teens.
- Withdrawal from family, friends, or social events. Teens who are depressed may feel despondent, listless, and stop engaging on a social level.
- Elevated sadness or ennui, indicating intensity in emotions.
- Significant weight gain or loss.
- Change in sleep patterns.
- Feelings of worthlessness or shame.
- Changes in school performance, attendance, and or participation.
- Engaging in self-harm.
- Thoughts or references to meaninglessness or suicidal ideation.
These last two signs are obviously very concerning and it may be necessary to get clinical input as soon as possible. In addition, if anyone is indicating any sort of suicidal thinking or ideation it is of the utmost importance that you seek medical guidance immediately. This is nothing to take lightly. Ever.
Since teen depression may be tricky to diagnose, as adolescents are naturally experiencing highs and lows, it is very important to get professional support. If you are ever unsure, reach out to us. We are here to guide you on what can be a worrisome path.