Teenagers are among the age groups most likely to suffer from depression, and the current generation is at least twice as likely to suffer from mental health disorders than previous generations were at the same age.
A study that was conducted by a psychology professor from the San Diego State University in January 2010 revealed, shockingly, that there are five times as many depressed high school and college-level teenagers in this generation than there were during the Great Depression.
Stress, a major contributor to clinical depression, is at an all-time high right now. Teenagers are bound by unrealistic expectations that force them to conform to a certain type of living and to strive to exceed their own abilities, even at that young age. Although it seems unfair to place the blame on technology, it does play a big part in triggering depression by encouraging bad coping habits.
What is clear is that mental disorders should never be taken lightly or waved away as “just a phase”. The grim statistics at suicide.org puts the dangerous reality of teenage depression into perspective: we lose one teenager to suicide every 100 minutes.
Why we should be very concerned
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. Sadly, many parents, guardians, friends and relatives ignore all the warning signs until it’s too late, something they then live to regret. Adolescent depression is very real and dangerous if not addressed early enough. There are a number of ways that depression can negatively affect a child’s life.
# 1 Depression and Drug Abuse Go Hand in Hand
Six out of ten teenage drug addicts suffer from a mental disorder. Depression ranks highly as one of the mental disorders that often leads to alcohol and drug dependency. The dopamine released when these substances are introduced to the body becomes an escape from reality.
It is very easy for a depressed adolescent to resort to drugs, since they offer a quick fix to the situation by lifting their moods instantaneously. More and more of the drug becomes necessary to achieve that high as the body builds a resistance, which can pave the way for a very serious drug addiction.
# 2 Depressed Teenagers are more likely to Intentionally Harm Themselves
There are a number of reasons why people intentionally cause harm to themselves. A depressed teenager may use razors, lit cigarettes, pins, knives and even open flames to harm his/her body as a way to express the emotional anguish they are going through as physical pain, which is much easier to quell.
Depression also can reduce one’s sense of self-worth, making the individual feel like they deserve to punish themselves by inflicting physical harm on their bodies. Without teen depression treatment, this can get out of hand and cause serious physical damage to the teen’s body.
# 3 It Becomes Easier to Get Addicted to Social Media
When faced with psychological distress, the average teenager turns to the internet, specifically social media, to seek solace from strangers instead of dealing with the pain directly. This validation from internet strangers has the same effect as drugs have on the body since it results in the same dopamine high we get when we gamble or drink. With time, the young adult sees the internet as an escape from his/her problems.
The shallow praise or approval received from virtual followers and friends becomes a fix that they eventually cannot live without. Social ties become wrecked the more they become attached to the virtual world and with time, these teens find themselves completely isolated from the people who genuinely love them in the real world.
# 4 Depression Causes Eating Disorders
Comfort foods can induce feelings of happiness at a psychological level. This is why so many people, children and adults alike, often resort to foods that help them feel better after a stressful day. The problem sets in when the urge to consume these (mostly) unhealthy delicacies becomes uncontrollable. Eating disorders such as obesity, bulimia, and anorexia pose their own dangers to the life of a troubled teen. Pairing them with depression and a low sense of self-esteem drastically increases the chances of suicide. A treatment center such as Polaris can help those with eating disorders recover.
# 5 Depressed Teenagers Drop Out of School
Among the symptoms of clinical depression is an acute sense of worthlessness and purposelessness. It is therefore not surprising that depressed students are twice as likely to drop out of school altogether. In fact, one in five students drops out specifically for that reason and nothing else.
A loss of interest in studies, friends, social and extracurricular activities often precedes the actual dropping out as the depressed teenager loses the will to actively participate in his/her own life.
It is evident that depression has a far-reaching impact on the lives of teenagers. The fact that adolescence is at its peak around this age and that most teenagers are hormone-riddled and confused about life makes it a lot easier for them to succumb to depression. Always be on the lookout for warning signs and symptoms and educate yourself on how to save someone from this awful psychological disorder.