Psychology / Teenage Depression
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Autor: anton 24 October 2010
Words: 1232 | Pages: 5
A depressive disorder is a disease that affects mood, thoughts and behavior. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. The greatest obstacle to treating depression is lack of recognition. When a "bad day" turns into a bad week, month, or more, there may be a medical explanation for this change in behavior or feelings of hopelessness. Fortunately, appropriate treatment can help more than 90% of those who suffer from depression.
Teenage depression is a growing problem in today's society and is often a major contributing factor for a multitude of adolescent problems. The statistics about teenage runaways, alcoholism, drug problems, pregnancy, eating disorders, and suicide are alarming.
Depression is a murky pool of feelings and actions scientists have been trying to understand since the days of Hippocrates, who called it a "black bile." It has been called "the common cold of mental illness and, like the cold, it's difficult to quantify." (Arbetter 1) For a long time, people who were feeling depressed were told to "snap out of it."
According to a study done by National Institute of Mental Health, half of all Americans still view depression as a personal weakness or character flaw. Depression, however, is considered a medical disorder and can affect thoughts, feelings, physical health, and behaviors. It interferes with daily life such as school, friends, and family. â€œClinical depression is the most incapacitating of all chronic conditions in terms of social functioning.â€
Teenagers have always been vulnerable to depression for a variety of reasons. It's a confusing time of life because a teenâ€™s body is changing along with their relationships. "Teenagers constantly vacillate between strivings for independence from family and regressions to childish dependence on it.â€
But today's teens face an additional challenge: They're growing up in a world quite different from that of their parentâ€™s youth. Adolescents today are faced with stresses that were unknown to previous generations and are dealing with them in an often self-destructive way. Contemporary society has changed the perception of teenagers. New parental lifestyles, combined with changes in the economy, often give less time and energy for parents to devote to their offspring. Society all too often views teens for what they can be instead of for who they are. Who they are becomes the identity of teenagers today. â€œThey are confronted with the ambiguity of education, the dissolution of family, the hostile commercialism of society, and the insecurity of relationships.â€ This identity is fragile and is threatened by fears of rejection, feelings of failure, and of being different.
These young people face stress in school as well with resources dwindling and campus violence and harassment increasing. Their sexual awakening comes in the age of AIDS, when sex can kill. In summary, teens today feel less safe, less empowered and less hopeful than we did a generation ago. Depression is a common concomitant to this struggle. It strikes 5% of teens and about 2% of children under 12. One in three adolescents in the nineties is at risk for serious depression.
Depression is the result of a complex mix of social, psychological, physical, and environmental factors. Teens with depressed parents are two to three times more likely to develop major depression. Key indicators of adolescent depression include a drastic change in eating and sleeping patterns, significant loss of interest in previous activity interests (Blackman, 1995;), constant boredom, disruptive behavior, peer problems, increased irritability and aggression (Brown, 1996). Blackman (1995) proposed that â€œformal psychologic testing may be helpful in complicated presentations that do not lend themselves easily to diagnosis.â€ For many teens, symptoms of depression are directly related to low self esteem stemming from increased emphasis on peer popularity. For other teens, depression arises from poor family relations which could include decreased family support and perceived rejection by parents
Gender differences are becoming apparent, with girls having more difficulty with depression. Studies show girls are three times more likely than boys to suffer depression. A university study showed a close link between depression and negative body image and girls are usually more self-conscious about their bodies than boys.
It's hard to detect depression in teens because it's a developmental stage characterized by considerable anger and withdrawal. Adolescents don't necessarily look sad and depressed and its normal for teens to have mood swings but within limits. A depressed teen may cry for help indirectly through troublesome, even destructive behavior and through physical symptoms. Drug use is on the rise among teens as young as thirteen. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, about 4% of high school seniors use alcohol daily, while 92% have tried it. Millions of teens have had adverse experiences caused by excessive drinking.
Researchers have found that depressed teens are at particularly high risk for drug and alcohol abuse. Abuse of drugs, alcohol, or other substances are often used to assuage depression. Studies have found that when depressed patients were given treatment, alcohol and drug intake diminished as well. Substance abuse is seen as both a symptom and a cause of depression.
There is more sexual activity among teenagers today than at any other time in our history. By the time they leave high school, some 90% of seniors are no longer virgins. Many physicians tend to think of depression as an illness of adulthood. In fact, Brown (1996) stated that "it was only in the 1980's that mood disorders in children were included in the category of diagnosed psychiatric illnesses.â€
In actuality, 7-14% of children will experience an episode of major depression before the age of 15. An average of 20-30% of adult bipolar patients report having their first episode before the age of 20. In a sampling of 100,000 adolescents, two to three thousand will have mood disorders out of which 8-10 will commit suicide (Brown, 1996).
The majority of the cases of adolescent depression are mild and can be dealt with through several psychotherapy sessions with intense listening, advice and encouragement. Comorbidity is not unusual in teenagers, and possible pathology, including anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, learning disability or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, should be searched for and treated, if present (Blackman, 1995)
I Teenage depression.What is it?
II Depression as a growing problem
III Stress in school and the danger of AIDS
IV Low self-esteem in teenagers
V Drugs and alcohol to assuage depression
VI The suicide risk among teens
Arbetter, Sandra. Depression: Way Beyond the Blues. Current Health Dec. 1993:4-10.
Blackman, M. (1995, May). You asked about... adolescent depression. The Canadian Journal of CME
Brown, A. (1996, Winter). Mood disorders in children and adolescents. NARSAD Research Newsletter
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