Understanding Adolescent Depression
Ramon Eduardo Gustilo Villasor, Sr., Ph.D., RPsy, R.G.C., CSCOP
- Depression is serious business.
- The use of the term should not be abused.
- But when heard, it should also not be taken lightly.
Definition of Depression – DSM-IV (1994)
- Depression can be considered once it has to met the Diagnostic Criteria from the DSM-IV.
- An individual needs to 5 (or more) of the following symptoms for the “same two-week period” or longer. (Major Depressive Episode)
- Depressed mood most of the day or nearly every day. (Personal and external observations)
- Loss of interest or diminishing pleasure in activities.
- Loss of weight.
- Insomnia or hyper insomnia.
- General loss of energy or fatigue.
- Negative perceptions of the self or excessive/inappropriate guilt.
- Indecisiveness or inability to concentrate.
- Suicidal ideation.
Defining Adolescent Depression
- Depressive symptoms persist for two-weeks or longer.
- At times, it is difficult to diagnose adolescent depression due to social, emotional, and intellectual changes that occur in this stage of development.
- Remember: The difference between being depressed and normal behavioral symptoms is the length of time it is experienced.
Facts About Adolescent Depression (Carwile, 2008 & Mental Health and Psychiatry news, 2008)
- One out of eight adolescents are diagnosed to have depression.
- Of that number, girls are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression.
- Every year, there are a number of adolescent depression cases that are misdiagnosed or under diagnosed.
- Carwile (2008) adds that there are “roughly 5,000 adolescents in the United States who commit suicide each year.”
- Among adolescents, depression is present about 5% of the time.
- A child is at risk to have a depressive episode (a factor of 2 to 4) if they have a parent with a history of depression.
- Females are more likely to attempt suicide whereas males are more likely to complete them.
- In 1998, the suicide attempts among 15 to 19 year-olds, were 14.6% (per 100,000 males) and 2.9% (per 100,000 females).
Adolescent Depression can be caused by:
- Poor Academics
- Alcohol abuse
- Anger and Rage
- Bullying (e.g., abuse, fighting, excessive teasing, social isolation, etc.)
- Discord with parents, siblings, significant others (e.g., boyfriend/girlfriend) or friends
- Displacement or inability to acculturate
- Drug abuse
- Caused by a possible mental illness (e.g., clinical depression, bipolar disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, etc. )
- Illness in the family or close acquaintances
- Loss of interest or pleasure
- Parental separation or displacement
- Other concerns (e.g., inability to sleep; inconsistent eating patterns)
- Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.
- There are a number of coping styles out in the proverbial market. Just remember that: What works for one individual may not work for you.
- Most of all, remember that you are never alone and that there is always someone out there that you can talk to!