Regular teen angst could signal depression

When a person says that he or she is “down” or “stressed,” it is safe to assume that the individual might just be feeling bogged down by everyday activities. However, if a teen regularly uses such words, it may point to early signs of depression, says latest research.

The new study titled “Understanding teen expression of sadness in primary care: A qualitative exploration,” and presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco, suggests that teens who are at a risk of developing depression are more likely to use terms such as “stressed” or “down” and other similar words that sound like regular teen anguish.

Teenage is a complicated stage of life. While it is full of fun and excitement for many, it actually is a rough ride for others. It is normal for a teen to experience mood swings, express a desire to live independently and take one’s own decisions. Watching the teen getting anxious and feeling sad or irritated are common in this phase. But, when such situations begin to interfere with the teen’s daily life, it is time to seek help.

Teens reported increased anger and irritability towards others during study

A sample of screening interviews conducted on 369 teens, aged between 13 and 18 years and at risk of developing depression, were analyzed for the study. These teens had taken part in the Promoting Adolescent Health Study (PATH), a large, randomized control experiment, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH).

These adolescents had to answer two screening questions, confidentially, in writing. Those who described themselves as irritable, hopeless or down in the past two weeks received a call from the researchers. They were then screened for depression using certified measures.

The co-author of the study, Daniela DeFrino, Ph.D., RN, assistant professor, the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, said, “Teens rarely stated they were depressed, but described bursts of feeling sad and stressed that often came and went.”

Signs of teen depression

Other common signs of teen depression that were reported during the study were increased irritability, unexplained anger towards self and others, inability to enjoy activities previously loved, difficulty falling asleep or sleeping too much, and the likes.

It was also found that while teens considered pressure from school, homework and the expectation to be good to be stressful and creating difficulties, they also believed that arguments with parents, their divorce or separation, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect, relocation, bereavement, new feelings of sadness from illness and suicides of family members or friends also took a toll on them.

DeFrino said, “Teens may be experiencing a lot of internal confusion and turmoil and difficult life stresses that we can easily overlook if we don’t probe with sensitive questioning and understanding. Reframing these feelings as outward symptoms of pre-depression by the primary care provider would allow for connection to and discussion about the importance of mental health with the teen and parent.”

Depression and teens

Depression in teens is a serious mental health condition that makes a teenager experience severe mood swings, feelings of sadness and loss of interest in the activities he/she once enjoyed. Affecting the way a teen thinks, feels and behaves, the condition can lead to a number of emotional, psychological and functional problems.

The feelings of worthlessness, poor school performance, low social status, sexual orientation, and issues in family life are some of the common factors that increase the risk of depression among teens. According to the NIMH, approximately 3 million adolescents aged between 12 and 17 years in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2014.

Don’t ignore the problem

It is common for an adolescent affected by depression to complain of pains, difficulty in concentrating and decision-making, excessive guilt, memory loss, sadness and anxiety. But, it is not common for parents or guardians to acknowledge their wards’ feelings. It is important for parents as well as the loved ones to stay calm and take stock of such a situation. Seeking help from a mental health expert specializing in treating depression in teens can serve as a great first step towards helping the teen.

Choosing the best treatment plan for your teen would be in the hands of a qualified medical expert. If you think that your child’s behavior is indicating the development of a mental health issue, such as depression, White River Academy can help.

It is one of the leading therapeutic boarding schools to help troubled youth recover from their addictions or mental illnesses. With state-of-the-art facilities, the experts at school follow a holistic approach in providing help to teenage boys to recover.

Call our 24/7 helpline number for a dedicated consultation on our treatment plans and programs for depression in teenagers. You can also chat online with our medical experts to seek more information about the signs of teen depression and how to recover from the same.

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