According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately one out of five adolescents has a diagnosable mental health disorder, and nearly one-third show symptoms of depression. Symptoms of depression in adolescents aren’t always easy to identify because they often appear as normal adolescent behavior. Early warning signs are likely to include: irritability, fatigue, changes in sleep patterns, changes in eating patterns, social withdrawal, and/or anger. With this rise in adolescent depression, it’s important for parents, caregivers, and educators to understand the symptoms of adolescent depression.
The important feature of a major depressive episode is a period of at least two weeks during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest in nearly all activities. In adolescents, the mood may be irritable. The two-week period represents a change in functioning for the teen.
In addition to experiencing depressed or irritable mood or loss of interest or pleasure, four other symptoms must be present:
- Anger or hostility
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Poor school performance
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Unexplained aches or pains
- Thoughts of death or suicide (with or without a plan)
Treatment of depression
A complete physical to rule out other medical conditions is always a good first step in you suspect that your teen is struggling with depression.
- Psychotherapy: Talk therapy and/or cognitive behavioral therapy are often good initial treatments for mild to moderate cases of depression.
- Group therapy: Therapy groups can be effective for teens. Through group work, teens connect with other teens that share and understand their struggles and create support networks beyond their immediate families and close friends.
- Medication management: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) are antidepressant medications that can be beneficial to adolescents diagnosed with major depressive disorder. An adolescent being treated for major depressive disorder should be carefully evaluated by a physician to determine whether medication is necessary. Antidepressant medication does come with risks. In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about SSRI medications for children and adolescent due to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior.
Exult Healthcare offers Individual and Intensive Outpatient for teens who struggle with depression. To book a free screening, call 469 714-0006 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.