Generally, the term depression refers to a normal human emotion, but medically, it can refer to a mental health illness. In teenagers, depression is melancholy, sadness or a mood of despair, lingering for a long time that limits a teenagers ability to function normally. Those children who are under stress, who have gone through with some kind of trauma or have experienced loss, or who have attention, learning, conduct or anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for depression. In many cases, the depressed children have family history of depression. Causes of teen and childhood depression are the same as they are for adults, but it may also include additional factors such as social rejection, family turmoil, failures in exams, etc. Clinical Characteristics:
The diagnostic criteria and major features of teenage depression are almost similar to that of adults. However, the way symptoms are manifested in a teenagers behavior varies with the developmental stage of the youngster. Moreover, teenagers may have difficulty in properly identifying and describing their internal emotional or mood conditions. Research has indicated that parents are even less likely to identify major depression in their children than are the children themselves. Symptoms: Mental health personnel advise parents to be aware of the signs of depression in their children. Some of the symptoms of depression that parents needs to be aware of include:
Frequent sadness, tearfulness, crying
Decreased interest in activities once enjoyed
Persistent boredom, low energy level
Social isolation, lack of communication
Low self esteem and guilt
Fear of rejection or failure
Irritability, anger, or hostility
Frequent complaints of physical illnesses, such as headaches and stomachaches
Major change in eating and sleeping patterns
Suicidal or self-destructive behavior
Alcohol and drug abuse
Treatment: Depression is a mental illness that requires professional help, self-help, and support from family and friends. Treatment for teenage depression often involves short-term psychotherapy, medication, or the combination. A combination of approaches is usually most effective:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy usually centers on the factor that causes the depression and helps change negative thought patterns of the patient.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on working through disturbed personal relationships that may contribute to depression.
Group therapy is beneficial for teens, because it removes the feelings of isolation that many teenagers experience.
Family therapy can address patterns of communication and ways the family can restructure itself to support each member.
Physical activities and regular exercise is helpful in lifting depression, as it causes the brain's chemistry to create more endorphins and serotonin, which change mood.
Creative works such as drama, art or music is an appropriate outlet for the emotions of teenagers.
Volunteer work can increase one's sense of purpose and meaning.
Hospital care is important in situations where a teen needs constant observation to prevent self-destructive behavior.
Medication as a first-line course of treatment should be considered for children and adolescents with severe symptoms, and only under careful supervision. Although there are real and frightening concerns about antidepressant medication like Lexapro and Prozac, most mental health professionals continue to recommend their use. Despite the staggering amount of antidepressants and psychotropic prescribed to adolescents and teenagers, very little research has been done into their effectiveness. From what research has been done, there is no definitive proof that depression medication is an effective treatment for teen depression. The problem that arises in treating depressed teenager is that many teenagers do not seek treatment because the feelings of apathy and hopelessness that they are experiencing lead them to believe that treatment would be pointless. But depression is better understood now and help is available easily.
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