Psychology Adolescent Depression Essay
The Under AcknowledgedDisease Depression is a disease that afflicts the human psyche insuch a way that the afflicted tends to act and react abnormallytoward others and themselves. Therefore it comes to no surprise todiscover that adolescent depression is strongly linked to teensuicide. Adolescent suicide is now responsible for more deaths inyouths aged 15 to 19 than cardiovascular disease or cancer(Blackman, 1995). Despite this increased suicide rate, depression inthis age group is greatly underdiagnosed and leads to seriousdifficulties in school, work and personal adjustment which may oftencontinue into adulthood. How prevalent are mood disorders inchildren and when should an adolescent with changes in mood beconsidered clinically depressed? Brown (1996) has said the reasonwhy depression is often over looked in children and adolescents isbecause children are not always able to express how they feel.
Sometimes the symptoms of mood disorders take on different formsin children than in adults. Adolescence is a time of emotional turmoil,mood swings, gloomy thoughts, and heightened sensitivity. It is atime of rebellion and experimentation. Blackman (1996) observedthat the challenge is to identify depressive symptomatology whichmay be superimposed on the backdrop of a more transient, butexpected, developmental storm. Therefore, diagnosis should notlay only in the physician’s hands but be associated with parents,teachers and anyone who interacts with the patient on a daily basis.
Unlike adult depression, symptoms of youth depression are oftenmasked. Instead of expressing sadness, teenagers may expressboredom and irritability, or may choose to engage in risky behaviors(Oster ; Montgomery, 1996). Mood disorders are oftenaccompanied by other psychological problems such as anxiety(Oster ; Montgomery, 1996), eating disorders (Lasko et al.,1996), hyperactivity (Blackman, 1995), substance abuse(Blackman, 1995; Brown, 1996; Lasko et al., 1996) and suicide(Blackman, 1995; Brown, 1996; Lasko et al., 1996; Oster ;Montgomery, 1996) all of which can hide depressive symptoms.
The signs of clinical depression include marked changes in moodand associated behaviors that range from sadness, withdrawal, anddecreased energy to intense feelings of hopelessness and suicidalthoughts. Depression is often described as an exaggeration of theduration and intensity of normal mood changes (Brown 1996).
Key indicators of adolescent depression include a drastic change ineating and sleeping patterns, significant loss of interest in previousactivity interests (Blackman, 1995; Oster ; Montgomery, 1996),constant boredom (Blackman, 1995), disruptive behavior, peerproblems, increased irritability and aggression (Brown, 1996).
Blackman (1995) proposed that formal psychologic testing may behelpful in complicated presentations that do not lend themselveseasily to diagnosis. For many teens, symptoms of depression aredirectly related to low self esteem stemming from increasedemphasis on peer popularity. For other teens, depression arisesfrom poor family relations which could include decreased familysupport and perceived rejection by parents (Lasko et al., 1996).
Oster ; Montgomery (1996) stated that when parents arestruggling over marital or career problems, or are ill themselves,teens may feel the tension and try to distract their parents. Thisdistraction could include increased disruptive behavior,self-inflicted isolation and even verbal threats of suicide. So how canthe physician determine when a patient should be diagnosed asdepressed or suicidal? Brown (1996) suggested the best way todiagnose is to screen out the vulnerable groups of children andadolescents for the risk factors of suicide and then refer them fortreatment. Some of these risk factors include verbal signs ofsuicide within the last three months, prior attempts at suicide,indication of severe mood problems, or excessive alcohol andsubstance abuse. Many physicians tend to think of depression as anillness of adulthood. In fact, Brown (1996) stated that it was only inthe 1980’s that mood disorders in children were included in thecategory of diagnosed psychiatric illnesses. In actuality, 7-14% ofchildren will experience an episode of major depression before theage of 15. An average of 20-30% of adult bipolar patients reporthaving their first episode before the age of 20. In a sampling of100,000 adolescents, two to three thousand will have mooddisorders out of which 8-10 will commit suicide (Brown, 1996).
Blackman (1995) remarked that the suicide rate for adolescents hasincreased more than 200% over the last decade. Brown (1996)added that an estimated 2,000 teenagers per year commit suicide inthe United States, making it the leading cause of death afteraccidents and homicide. Blackman (1995) stated that it is notuncommon for young people to be preoccupied with issues ofmortality and to contemplate the effect their death would have onclose family and friends. Once it has been determined that theadolescent has the disease of depression, what can be done aboutit? Blackman (1995) has suggested two main avenues to treatment:psychotherapy and medication. The majority of the cases ofadolescent depression are mild and can be dealt with throughseveral psychotherapy sessions with intense listening, advice andencouragement. Comorbidity is not unusual in teenagers, andpossible pathology, including anxiety, obsessive-compulsivedisorder, learning disability or attention deficit hyperactive disorder,should be searched for and treated, if present (Blackman, 1995).
For the more severe cases of depression, especially those withconstant symptoms, medication may be necessary and withoutpharmaceutical treatment, depressive conditions could escalate andbecome fatal. Brown (1996) added that regardless of the type oftreatment chosen, it is important for children suffering from mooddisorders to receive prompt treatment because early onset placeschildren at a greater risk for multiple episodes of depressionthroughout their life span. Until recently, adolescent depression hasbeen largely ignored by health professionals but now several meansof diagnosis and treatment exist. Although most teenagers cansuccessfully climb the mountain of emotional and psychologicalobstacles that lie in their paths, there are some who find themselvesoverwhelmed and full of stress. How can parents and friends helpout these troubled teens? And what can these teens do about theirconstant and intense sad moods? With the help of teachers, schoolcounselors, mental health professionals, parents, and other caringadults, the severity of a teen’s depression can not only be accuratelyevaluated, but plans can be made to improve his or her well-beingand ability to fully engage life. Psychology Essays