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Depression among Teens

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Depression in Teens

Depression affects 4% of teenagers, and can influence people across the socioeconomic spectrum. However, girls suffer depression at twice the rate of boys. Why does this happen? More Importantly, what can be done to stop depression before it reaches fatal proportions?

Why do girls suffer depression?

There are many theories on why teenage girls tend to become depressed. It has been hypothesized that the onset of puberty and hormonal changes are factors. Also, when girls look to peers for validation it often can be hard to retain a positive self-image. In 1988, Harvard professor Carol Gilligan found that only 29% of teenage girls are not satisfied with who they are. Girls worry more than boys about their looks, personal problems and romantic relationships. Sometimes social pressures and gossip can be subtle, but still very hurtful.

What are the symptoms of general depression?

It can be hard to know when teenagers suffer depression. As they try to figure out who they are and what they believe in, changes in behavior are normal . However, problems arise when an adolescent feels helpless and hopeless much of the time. If a teenager feels two or more of these symptoms for two consecutive weeks, he or she might be suffering from depression:

  • Change in school performance
  • Changes in eating and/or sleeping habits
  • Persistent unhappiness
  • Withdrawal from people and activities previously enjoyed
  • Excessive guilt and/or anxiety
  • Aggressive, impulsive or reckless behaviors
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritable or angered easily
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Talk about death or suicide - this should always be taken seriously.

Other depression signs

Low energy, seemingly the teen has no "get up and go" Adolescent feels "low" most of the time Your teen is irritable, especially when pressured to "do something" Weight loss or gain (more than 10% of normal weight) Insomnia or sleeplessness, or excessive need for sleep Child expresses feelings of worthlessness Suicidal thoughts, ideation, or threats (with or without a plan) Drop in grades or missing school (possible claiming to be "sick" in the morning) Drop in social activities, interactions with peers, or a sudden change in peer group Indecisive or doesn't seem to care about anything (especially things they used to care about) Low frustration level Frequent bouts of crying, often for "no reason" No longer participates in their usual activities (social, family, academic, extracurricular)

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