Depression is a commonly used term in today’s society, almost haphazardly. Although commonly used to describe the emotions of sadness and depression, clinically, it is a psychological condition which is far more serious than a simple case of “the blues”. As parents, understanding the emotions of teenagers can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. However, it is a teenager’s depression which may be most profound in terms of social, personal and academic performance.
Depression, in clinical terms, can be defined as a physiological condition in which hormonal imbalances lead to a psychological demonstration of persistent sadness, hopelessness and general despair. While almost everyone in society suffers from some episode of depression during their life span, it is the members of our society with clinical, undiagnosed depression, who suffer the most. In teenagers, with hormones in a constant state of flux, depression is often misdiagnosed, or under diagnosed. Understanding the symptoms which are considered abnormal in a teenager may assist parents in identifying a teenager who is depressed versus one who is simply having a bad day.
When a teenager, or adolescent, is simply saddened by an event, expressions of sadness, through crying, exhibiting tears, are quite common. In fact, this expression of sadness is healthy for most teenagers as they learn to cope with the negative impact of life circumstances and find the ability to freely express themselves. However, in teenagers who are clinically depressed, this sadness is, generally, expressed in terms of actions. Most often, clinically depressed adolescents will wear darker clothing, usually black attire, and engage in songs or music which is melancholy or laced with negative connotations. While this is a common symptom of clinically depressed teenagers, this is certainly not to say that all teenagers, wearing dark clothing and listening to melancholy music, are clinically depressed. However, for parents, when raising an adolescent who exhibits these behaviors, consideration should be given into a diagnosis of clinical depression.
Beyond physical appearance, a clinically depressed teenager will often find great difficulty fitting in at school. For children who once engaged in social networks, as teenagers suffering from clinical depression, the psychological condition is now so pervasive so as to result in the teenager’s seemingly inability to fit in or communicate with friends once kept. Beyond this social isolation, the depressed teenager begins to lose motivation at school and loses interest in clubs and sporting events once enjoyed. As parents, when caring for a teenager who exhibits a significant decrease in energy, disinterest in school activities and even isolation from social networks, these may be an indirect result of clinical depression in the teenager.
And finally, the use of alcohol and drugs, in today’s society is prevalent among teenagers. For many depressed teenagers, there is an overwhelming pre-occupation with acquiring drugs and alcohol, partly due to the side effects which allow for an escape from reality but also used as part of a social networking process for the depressed teen. Without the proper avenue to work through depressive feelings and thoughts, such as proper anti-depressant medications, the teenager will commonly turn to their own method of coping skills and resort to drug and alcohol use as a self treatment process.
When caring for teenagers, parents are commonly caught off guard by the fluctuating and drastic change in the teenager’s behavior during the adolescent years. However, as parents, and as educators, it is crucial to monitor the child’s behavior every day and be open to the suggestion that the symptoms exhibited in the teen are not, simply, normal hormonal changes but, instead, a case of clinical depression which may require medication and psychological counseling intervention.
For more information regarding child and teen related depression, visit www.focusas.com.