Teen depression is one of the more serious issues currently facing our younger generation, yet it is also one of the issues that is most dismissed. Issues of teen depression can often be minimized as “everyday teenage emotional growth,” the results of a new social media-affected generation, and/or the short-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. These misconceptions are not only dismissive; they can also be damaging, even deadly, to the young people who are on the receiving end of them.
Regarding adolescent issues of mental health, teen depression is one of the most commonly reported illnesses. It can also have some of the most drastic effects if not properly treated. It is important to remember that depression is a “chronic” illness. Like all other chronic illnesses, it will not improve without intervention. This includes depression that sets in during the teenage years, leading to a depression that can be felt much longer than anyone should have to feel it.
Understanding Teen Depression
When thinking about teen depression, it is critical to understand that “feeling sad” and diagnosable depression are two separate things. Yes, most of us will agree that we have all felt sad at one time or another. For many of us, these times occurred during our teenage years. However, only those who have experienced clinical depression will know what that sadness feels like when it lingers and cannot be self-controlled.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) publication Depression, by Suma P. Chand and Hasan Arif, breaks down depression to its fundamental core as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” Also while there are several types of depressive disorders, they all share the “common features” of “sadness, emptiness, or irritable mood, accompanied by somatic and cognitive changes that significantly affect the individual’s capacity to function.”
That last aspect of “functionality” is significant in determining whether or not an individual is struggling with diagnosable depression. For young people, feeling sad is certainly part of the journey. However, sadness that interrupts their day-to-day life on a regular basis is not.
What Are the Different Types of Depression?
As previously mentioned, depression is not a monolithic mental illness. There are many types. According to the publication mentioned above, the types include:
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Depressive disorder due to another medical condition
While these depressive disorders all have their own characteristics, they also share those commonalities mentioned earlier. Also, it is critical to note that these disorders do not discriminate among populations, including teenagers.
Warning Signs of Teen Depressive Disorders
Being able to spot the warning signs of teen depression can greatly reduce the potential for more serious depression symptoms from manifesting later in life. A few of the “red flags” of teen depression to watch out for include a teen:
- Beginning to show a loss of interest in their friend groups and activities they once enjoyed
- Exhibiting an otherwise unexplainable academic decline
- Experiencing interrupted sleep patterns, including sleeping too much or sleeping too little
- Showing extreme weight fluctuations, both in potential weight gain and weight loss
- Having trouble concentrating, even on simple tasks
- Exhibiting serious self-harm and/or suicidal behaviors
Integrated Recovery Plans for Teen Depression
Many people may wonder how prominent teen depression really is. The answer may be shocking, as depression is very prominent in the adolescent population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among young people aged three to 17, “depression affected 4.4% of the population.” This is approximately 2.7 million young people, which many people believe is now significantly higher since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, just as important as those statistics, or perhaps more so, is understanding how these young people can receive Contrary to what some may believe, there is no one treatment to cure depression. Ultimately, however, there are many ways teen depression can be treated. The most effective way is often when a variety of treatment options are integrated into one recovery plan. Perhaps the most well-known and commonly used treatment modality for depression is individual therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These therapies can get to the underlying issues of teen depression and bring them to the surface so they can be worked on and worked through.
Here at Clearview Girls Academy, we take an individualized approach to all of our students, including those struggling with teen depression. Yes, we utilize CBT and DBT, but we also have a highly regarded equine therapy program. We have the type of community that can help teens make life-long connections, build life skills, overcome their struggles, and gain new positive perspectives. Depression often makes teens feel like they are lost in the darkness. We here at Clearview Girls Academy are here to light their path out of that place.
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues negatively affecting millions of people around the globe. This prevalence is no less common among the adolescent population. While depression can greatly inhibit a teen’s day-to-day life, the good news is that there are many effective evidence-based and experiential therapies that can help. We offer many of these therapies and more at Clearview Girls Academy. If you feel like your daughter is struggling with depression or any other issue of mental health, please know that you don’t have to go through this alone. We are here to help. For more information on effective therapies for teen depression, please reach out to Clearview Girls Academy today at (888) 796-5484.