Depression is a mood disorder that has both psychological and physical effects. Many people dismiss it as “just a mood problem,” but depression is more than just that. Depression is a real illness, and as such, requires proper treatment to be overcome.
The WHO estimates that around 300 million people are affected by depression worldwide. This makes it a widespread illness. Depression also does not choose who it affects since it can affect people of any age. This disorder can affect anyone regardless of social status, nationality, or religion. Serious consequences can arise from improper treatment or lack thereof.
Depression in Teens – Too Common & Too Often Untreated
Adolescence is one of the age groups that is commonly affected by depression. An estimate shows that depression affects around 20% of all teens before they reach adulthood. Of all the affected teenagers, about only 30% receive the proper treatment.
Depression is severely overlooked, and this can prove to be dangerous, especially in teens. Depression, if untreated, can lead to self-harm or suicide. Even those that receive proper treatment may still experience suicidal thoughts. This is the reason why teens should be treated immediately at the first signs of depression. This is something that should never be dismissed mindlessly. Fortunately, depression can be mitigated or even overcome.
How Does Depression Affect Teenagers?
Depression most commonly affects a person’s emotions and mood. However, this disorder causes more than just mood swings and sadness. Most notably, it causes a change in a person’s normal behavior, attitude, and outlook. There are different degrees of depression that can affect a person. The most severe cases can cause a person to have thoughts of suicide – or even follow through on those thoughts.
Some of the common symptoms and effects, however, include the following behavioral changes:
- Changes in behavior like isolation, self-harm, appetite changes, and more
- Feelings of restlessness, irritation, or being agitated constantly
- Caring less about personal appearance, clothing, and hygiene
- The use of harmful substances like alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
- Changes in normal sleep patterns. This can either be insomnia or excessive sleeping
It also causes emotional changes such as the following:
- Extreme sadness, most commonly described as an empty feeling
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Mood swings or emotional outbursts
- Feelings of self-blame, guilt, and worthlessness
- Low self-confidence or self-esteem
- Sometimes, feelings of wanting to withdraw from contact with other people
- Suicidal thoughts and impulses
Not all of these symptoms will be present in people with depression. Try to compare the person’s normal behavior and attitude with the present. If you feel that the changes are drastic and some of the symptoms are present, seek professional help.
What are the Physical Factors that Contribute to Teen Depression?
Depression is not merely a mindset, contrary to what many people think. This disorder is a result of many contributing factors. These factors include various psychological and physical components. Some people are even predisposed to have depression because of their genes.
The brain is exposed to many chemicals on a normal basis. An imbalance in these chemicals can cause certain problems. Scientists believe that depression is one of the problems caused by chemical imbalances. Some of these chemical imbalances are caused by a person’s genes. This means that these can be inherited. Some studies, in fact, show that depression can run in families. Having parents with depression makes it more likely for the children to have it, too.
Fortunately, scientists also believe that physical factors can help a person overcome depression. Some studies show that exercise and a nutritious diet can help.
What are the other Factors that Contribute to Teen Depression?
Being predisposed to having depression does not mean that one is sure to have it. There are other factors such as environment and relationships that make a person more likely to be depressed. Some of these risk factors include the following:
- Psychological trauma: Many studies have shown that significant psychological trauma can cause depression. This is especially notable in people who have had rough childhoods. Sexual abuse at an early age, for example, is a very significant contributing factor
- Academic or professional problems: Significant negative events in one’s professional life can contribute to depression. Unemployment is one of the common factors in adults. In teenagers, this can include low grades, academic pressure, the pressure to excel, and many more
- Relationship problems: One of the common contributing factors for teen depression is when one has relationship problems
While keeping a positive view is difficult in the face of depression, it certainly helps. This disorder can be overcome, and looking at the world differently may help do it.
What are the Consequences of Depression in Teens?
Depression impacts many aspects of a person’s life. These effects may worsen, especially if depression remains undiagnosed or untreated. Some of the most affected parts of a person’s life are the following:
- Physical health
- Personal relationships
- Academic or professional life
- Other complications stemming from these problems
Unfortunately, depression also creates a spiraling effect on the problems that it can cause. These problems will tend to become more and more complicated the longer the disorder goes untreated. For example, low grades can cause depression, which in turn causes even lower grades. This creates a cycle that can be hard to break. Halting this cycle is one of the keys to getting through depression.
How Can One Overcome Depression?
Depression is not a death sentence. Many people have overcome depression, and it takes a lot of personal effort to do so. Here are 8 things that can help one overcome depression.
- Recognize the problem
The first step to overcoming depression is to realize that there really is a problem. Not recognizing that one has depression can slow down recovery. This is usually the most challenging obstacle to overcome. If you need help, then see a doctor or a counselor just to be safe.
- Be aware of the changes that occur
If someone you know suddenly has a change in attitude or temperament, be more observant. This can be a sign of depression. Many other changes occur, so try to note these down. Compare the person’s past attitude and emotional state with the present. If these changes are for the worse and they stick, then it may be time to get help.
- Take it one day at a time and set daily goals
People with depression often report feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and lack of drive. It helps to take everything one day at a time to prevent feeling overwhelmed. It also helps to set daily goals, no matter how small they are. Setting daily goals can keep you occupied and productive. It can also prevent you from overthinking to some extent.
- Stay involved
Many people with depression tend to become trapped in their own worlds. It pays to keep involved with the lives of the people around you. This can help in keeping the relationships healthy. It also helps to be surrounded by people, especially if the negative thoughts become too overwhelming.
- Celebrate the small victories
Those that experience depression experience extreme sadness and loneliness. Celebrating victories, no matter how small, can help. It gives you a more positive mindset, and that certainly helps a person who is especially feeling empty.
- Take care of your health
Weight gain is typical among people with depression. Gaining unwanted weight can further lead to negative emotions in some. Exercising can help offset this weight gain. Exercise is also proven to release chemicals in the brain that can cause feelings of happiness and elation. This is the reason why some people call exercise nature’s antidepressant. Just make sure that you do not overdo it.
Proper rest is also necessary. It is essential in speeding up the body’s recovery. It also plays a vital role in allowing the brain to rest, so make sure you get enough sleep. Rest plays a significant role in regulating mood and emotions, after all. Eating healthy and avoiding junk also helps.
- Find new activities to enjoy
Depression can lead to a feeling of blandness towards the activities that one used to enjoy. Finding new activities to replace the previous ones can keep a person occupied. It also helps to have a healthy time sink in order to keep your mind healthy and working properly.
- Surround yourself with your support group
Finally, make sure that you surround yourself with the right people. Depression is hard to fight alone. Find people who are willing to help you get through this challenge.
Get to the Root of the Problem and See a Professional
Teen depression is a real illness and should never be ignored. There are many consequences that teen depression can have, and many of these are serious. Depression can impact a person’s life heavily, so professional help may be needed.
If you suspect that you or someone you know is suffering from depression, ask for help. Capital Choice Counseling has professionals that are experienced in dealing with teen depression. Contact us today to find out more and book an appointment.