The teen years are typically a time of change and self-discovery, rebellion and self-reliance, increased social expectation and peer pressure, and the development of a new identity. From the ages of 12 to 18, children are expected to push limits and experiment with new people, interests, and ideas, often pulling away from their parents and do so with a degree of moodiness and unrest. However, what differentiates normal teen behavior from underlying, undiagnosed teen depression?
It has been reported that nearly twenty percent of teens will experience depression during adolescence; as many as thirty percent of those with teen depression will develop substance abuse problems. While teen depression is common to both genders, girls are twice as likely to experience and report symptoms of depression as boys their age, possibly a result of social expectations that encourage girls to express their feelings while discouraging boys from showing weakness. It has been estimated that nearly eighty percent of children with teen depression do not receive the necessary treatment. Significant risk factors for teen depression include trauma, loss (parents, friends, and romantic relationships), trauma/abuse, family history of depression, family conflict, long-term illness, increasing social stress and dependence, experimentation with alcohol and drugs, and increasing sexual pressure.
Teen depression does not always manifest symptoms normally associated with clinical depression (social isolation, withdrawal, sullenness, etc.), and instead may present in aggressive acting-out behavior. For that reason, teen depression is many times dismissed as typical teenage moodiness/rebellion, or misdiagnosed as Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder, and goes untreated. Common symptoms of teen depression include:
If these symptoms persist for more than two weeks, contact a medical provider who will be able to screen for depression. Treatment for teen depression comes in the form of a combination of lifestyle changes, psycho-education, activities designed to build self-esteem and increase self-reliance, prescription anti-depressants, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). For some suffering from teen depression, more intensive care in a supportive, therapeutic milieu such as The Family Foundation School is necessary.