Understanding the signs, symptoms, and effects of depression is an important part of the effort to get treatment for your child. At Acadiana Treatment Center in Sunset, Louisiana, we’re proud to be a source of information and comprehensive care for adolescents who have been struggling with depression.
Learn about depression
Depression is a blanket term that covers a number of mental health conditions known clinically as depressive disorders. Generally, depression makes an adolescent feel overwhelmingly sad, empty, irritable, and unable to function on a day-to-day basis.
Two of the most common forms of depression a child might struggle with are major depressive disorder and dysthymia, otherwise known as persistent depressive disorder. The primary differences between these two disorders are how long and how severely a child experiences symptoms.
Whatever form of depression your child might be struggling with, it is important to understand that they are experiencing more than just adolescent moodiness. Depression can have a harmful impact on your child’s life if left untreated. But by seeking treatment for depression, your child can start to heal from the effects living with a mental health challenge has had on their life.
Statistics about depression
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have reported the following statistics about depression among adolescents in the United States:
- Around 3.2 million adolescents ages 12-17 had at least one depressive episode in 2017.
- One in five people ages 13-18 experience a severe mental health challenge at some point in their lifetime.
- Approximately 60% of adolescents who experienced major depression in 2017 did not receive treatment.
- Half of chronic mental illnesses begin at age 14, and there is often a significant delay between when symptoms begin and when the child gets help for the mental health challenge they are experiencing.
- In 2017, major depressive episodes were highest among adolescents who identified as biracial or multiracial.
Causes and risk factors for depression
Just like with adults, there is not a single cause for depression in adolescents. Many influences can increase your child’s risk for developing a depressive disorder. The following are the most common causes and risk factors:
- The child has other family members who have struggled with depression.
- The child has experienced a trauma, abuse, or some other adverse life event.
- Changes in the child’s brain have made them more susceptible to developing a depressive disorder.
- Another medical condition or medications the child is taking have led them to develop symptoms of depression.
Symptoms of depression
When a child struggles with depression, it is different from the emotional ups and downs of adolescence. A child who develops a depressive disorder may suffer from a wide range of symptoms that can interfere with their ability to function at school, with friends, and in family life. They may exhibit various signs, including:
- Crying spells
- Angry outbursts or temper tantrums
- Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Increased sensitivity to criticism or rejection
- Fatigue or low energy
- Headaches or stomach pain not attributed to illness or injury
- Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Inability to eat or overeating
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Low self-esteem
- Suicidal ideation
Effects of depression
Without treatment, depression can have a detrimental effect on many areas of your child’s life. Not everyone experiences depression the same way or to the same degree of severity, but when your child exhibits the effects of depression, it is a sign that they could benefit from professional support. The following are some of the negative outcomes your child might experience if you do not help them seek treatment for depression:
- Family conflict
- Strained or lost friendships
- Low academic performance
- Academic failure
- Loss of after-school job
- Substance abuse or addiction
- Suicidal thoughts
- Suicidal behaviors
By getting your child professional care for depression, you can help prevent them from experiencing any harmful long-term effects. Entering a treatment program for depression will put your child on the path toward a healthier and more hopeful future.
Common co-occurring disorders among people who have depression
When your child suffers from depression, they are also at risk for developing other mental health disorders. Struggling with two or more mental health challenges at the same time is referred to as having co-occurring disorders. It is crucial for your child to get treatment for all the health conditions they are experiencing in order for them to achieve long-term success. Some of the mental health conditions that commonly co-occur with depression include:
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Borderline personality disorder
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Substance use disorders
Depression is a treatable mental health condition. By getting your child help for depression and any co-occurring disorders they might be struggling with, you will set them on the path to a brighter, healthier future.