The adolescence period can be challenging

The transition from childhood to adolescence is a very important period in our lives that can bring a lot of ups and downs. Even when the age of adolescence can be exciting and crazy, often adolescence turns out to be a challenging phase for the adolescent and parents. An adolescents’ brain is wired in a unique way causing them to experience new thoughts, emotions and feelings, engage in risk-taking behaviour, achieve an identity etc.

Depression as a threat

Though many exciting changes occur, adolescents face several risk factors like suicide, drugs, anxiety etc. However, recent studies revealed high depression rates posing as a threat in adolescents. Factors such as engaging in abusive drugs and alcohol use, having attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD), having a chronic physical illness, low self-esteem increases the risk of developing depression.

What is Depression?

Depression mood in adolescents refers to the persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness and a loss of interest even in pleasurable activities. Multiple reasons exist why adolescents seem depressed. For example, an adolescent may develop a sense of isolation when among a comfortable group of friends or feel worthless because they scored low grades academically.

If an adolescent does not seem to enjoy or their sadness does not improve in the company of family or friends, engaging in hobbies the adolescent enjoys etc., then there is a high chance that he/she is depressed.

The symptoms displayed by depressed adolescents would be:

  • Difficulty in concentrating and decision-making
  • Anxiety or hopelessness feeling
  • Loss of memory and interest
  • Excessive guilt
  • Abnormal or rebellious behaviour
  • Complaints of headache or fatigue
  • A sudden drop in grades
  • Self-isolation 
  • Relationship difficulties
Causes of Depression

Family, social status with peers, academic performance, sexual orientation and many more can have a direct and major effect on how adolescents feel. Even when the exact causes of depression remain unidentified, the following have been suggested by researchers:

  • Alterations in the brain chemistry can disrupt the normal functioning of the nervous system and nerve receptors causing one to feel depressed
  • During adolescence, several hormonal changes occur that contribute to depression and trigger it
  • Traumatic events witnessed during childhood such as loss of a parent or loved one, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, bullying etc., causes changes in the brain wiring making an individual susceptible to depression
  • The traits of depression can be inherited genetically from blood relatives who also have/had this condition
  • If the environment that surrounds one does not provide them with the opportunity to learn to feel capable of overcoming life’s challenges by finding solutions, he/she may develop feelings of helplessness and withdrawal
Can Depression be treated?

Fortunately, effective treatment methods have been identified to lower and gradually eliminate depression among adolescents:

  • Medications recommended by psychologists such as atypical or tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) etc., stabilizes the mood and intellectual ability to make decisions and solve problems
  • Psychotherapy such as interpersonal therapy or cognitive behavioural therapy aids in identifying and changing behaviours that contribute to depression, become capable of setting realistic goals, accept distress healthily and develop solutions, regain a sense of worth and satisfaction etc.

Additionally, adolescents can be encouraged to:

  • Stick to the treatment plan
  • Engage in physical activities or hobbies to boost positive mood
  • Avoid the use of abusive drugs and alcohol
  • Regular intake of supplements as directed by a doctor
  • Learn techniques to boost self-esteem and handle stressful situations
  • Reach out for friendship and social support
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