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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Depression in Adolescence

Though emotional ups and downs are hallmarks of the teen years, depression in adolescence is more than a phase your child will eventually outgrow. Teen depression is a severe mental health condition requiring professional treatment. Without intervention, depression’s severity can worsen and persist through adulthood, causing pervasive problems in every aspect of a person’s life.

As we continue to observe Mental Health Awareness Month this May, what can you do to improve your understanding of depression and help a depressed teen in your life?

What Causes Depression in Adolescence?

You may have heard that depression results from imbalanced brain chemicals, but today, most experts believe that oversimplified explanation does not fully represent the disease’s complexity. While a lack of harmony among brain chemicals may play a partial role in whether someone develops depression, other factors also contribute. Genetics, chronic stress and medical problems can all combine to lead a teen to struggle with depression.

Since millions of chemicals are involved in regulating mood, emotions and overall outlook, two people diagnosed with depression might have very different symptoms. Even people with nearly identical depression symptoms could respond dissimilarly to therapeutic methods. For these reasons, this mood disorder is challenging to correctly diagnose and treat.

Warning Signs of Teen Depression

While some behavioral changes are a natural part of growing up, depression can cause a significant shift in a teenager’s attitude and worldview. Many depressed adolescents experience significant distress and problems at school or home, on top of struggling to enjoy hobbies and relationships.

If you notice your teen seems to be frequently irritable, sad or angry, it may be more than merely a bad mood. Depressed people cannot shake off the dark cloud that follows them everywhere they go. Because depression causes overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and a sense that the future looks bleak, a teen living with depression may develop an eating disorder or misuse drugs and alcohol to relieve the pain. When someone simultaneously has a mood disorder and untreated substance abuse, health professionals call it a dual diagnosis.

Treating Co-Occurring Disorders

It’s typical for children to disengage from their families a little bit as they assert their independence and start becoming adults. While you want to respect your teen’s privacy, you should also be mindful of any marked behavioral changes, such as a sudden loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, a lack of personal hygiene or a sharp decline in academic performance.

If you notice the red flags of depression and co-occurring substance abuse in your teenager, reach out to a doctor, therapist or your child’s school counselor. It may be alarming to realize that your formerly cheerful, active child is withdrawing from the world, but with qualified treatment, recovery is possible.

At Hope Academy, we are California’s premier young adult treatment center equipped to address the challenges of dual diagnoses. We create customized plans for each client’s needs, helping them manage the symptoms of their illness and learn to live a fulfilling life. Contact us when you’re ready to learn more.
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