The Truth About Depression
Depression in Teens
Symptoms of depression arise in people of all different socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, and ages. Adolescents and teens are not immune to it, especially as they are experiencing a rather unsettling stage of life that includes going through a myriad of physical, emotional, psychological and social changes.
Often teens overreact when things don’t go their way based on unrealistic academic, social and familial expectations that they are either putting on themselves or they are feeling from others. While most of these feelings are normal and subside over time, sometimes it can disrupt their daily lives, indicating a more serious emotional or mental disorder: adolescent depression.
How to Cope
Teens require guidance from trusted adults in order for them to take a firm grasp on the emotional and physical changes they are going through. Most importantly, they need to develop a sense of acceptance and belonging. Here are a few coping mechanisms to avoid serious depression:
Make new friends: Emotionally healthy, stimulating relationships with peers are essential to helping teens’ level of self-esteem as well as providing an appropriate social outlet
Participate: Whether it’s after school activities, sports, or diving into a personal hobby, staying busy helps teens stay positive and focused.
Join youth-organizations: Catering to the needs of adolescents and teens, programs offered can help develop additional interests as well as cultivate more peer relationships.
Despite best efforts and emotional support, teens can and will become depressed. Teens become more susceptible to depression as a result of a family history of depression, unavoidable life events, and even side-effects of certain medications.
Adolescent depression is increasing at an alarming rate, with many of them self-medicating with drug, alcohol and sexual promiscuity. In order to avoid any serious implications, it’s important to recognize symptoms of depression, especially when they last for more than two weeks.
Some symptoms include: poor academic performance, withdrawal from friends and activities, sadness and hopelessness, anger and rage, dysphoria, poor self-esteem, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts or actions.
If left untreated, already-serious depression can become life-threatening, therefore it’s extremely important teens receive professional treatment as soon as symptoms are recognized.
Different form of therapy can help teens understand the underlying causes of their depression while giving them the tools to cope with the stresses of daily life outside of therapy. A wide variety of therapies are offered in different formats, including individual, group, and family counseling.
Recognizing the need for help is a giant step towards recovery for teens, yet few of them actually want to seek out help, and encouragement and acceptance from those supporting them is key.
The most common and effective forms of adolescent depression treatment are:
Psychotherapy teaches teens coping skills while providing an opportunity to explore troubling and upsetting events and feelings in a space space.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy addresses negative patterns of thinking and behaving and provides teens the tools to change those patterns for the positive.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on the relationships at home and school, often focal points in teens lives, and how to make them healthier.
Medication often paired with an additional form of therapy, it can help relieve some serious symptoms of depression.
Bad Mood Isn’t Inherently Bad
A conception that bad moods are bad for you has taken society by storm. Keep smiling, experts urge—smile through the pain and it will suddenly vanish. This is the absolute opposite of the truth, according to an article completed by The Huffington Post to summarize The Depths, a new book by mood scientist Jonathan Rottenberg, PhD. Rottenberg claims that, instead of pushing the bad mood down and ignoring it, individuals should seek to learn from the experience.
According to Rottenberg, bad moods can provide a sense of X-Ray vision, enabling individuals to see through certain social ploys and tricks. In essence, being a bit glum takes the focus off of ourselves and allows individuals to become instantly more perceptive of others. Rottenberg discovered this after a series of experiments, wherein he showed a short, depressing film and then allowed participants to engage in a debate. Those who considered themselves to be sad structured arguments superior in analysis and set in concrete details. This allowed those who were sadder to become more persuasive than those who described themselves as happy.
Similar studies have shown that glum attitudes can improve recall, reduce errors in judgment, raise awareness for lies and help the individual to be more polite, enabling those who are sad to get along with others better. In essence, this research indicates that garden-variety sad moods can allow people to become more deliberate—skeptical and careful in how they process information and the actions of others around them.
Many seem to believe that sadness or reflection on shortcomings is too focused on the regrets of the past—that time would be better spent focused on moving forward. Rottenberg argues that this is an incorrect interpretation of the “coulda woulda shoulda” mindset, which has an inherent forward momentum to it; the individual uses this thought process to understand why bad things have happened in order to prevent a future recurrence.
Finally, Rottenberg argues that bad moods, although troubling at the time, will help the individual feel better in the long run. Spending a bit of time in the trenches of a garden-variety bad mood could work miracles towards evading the sinkholes of major depression in the future. In essence, in order to keep the past from continually affecting the individual, one must wallow before they can move forward into the future. Being able to accept negative feelings is associated with feeling better, not worse; attempting to avoid the issue altogether would, in fact, be the step backward. People cannot reach peace with their past without first focusing in on the sadness it rains down.