TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Definition of adolescence and adolescent depression 2
2. Adolescent depressive symptoms 4
3. Problems with diagnosis of depression in adolescents 4
4. Gender factors that may play a role in assessing depression 6
5. Contextual factors that may play a role in assessing depression 8
6. Suicide 9
‘Like anyone else, I have always had times when I felt deeply depressed, but this was something altogether new in my experience – a despairing, unchanging paralysis of the spirit beyond anything I had ever known or imagined could exist.’
The author William Styron (1990).
(Kring, ...view middle of the document...
Depression can be defined as a mood state characterized by a sense of inadequacy, a feeling of despondency, a decrease in activity or reactivity, pessimism, sadness and related symptoms(Reber, Allen & Reber). Prolonged depression is a common ultimate cause of suicide and a common emotional experience among adolescents (Van den Aardweg & Van den Aardweg 1993:82).
Adolescent depression is a disorder that affects teenagers and leads to sadness, discouragement and a loss of self-worth and interest in their usual activities. It is different than occasional blues and grief because depression is persistent and often interferes with the adolescent’s ability to get along with parents and friends, complete school work, and appropriately participate in other normal daily activities.
During adolescence, there are also changes in family relationships, and these, along with family life events and family dynamics, have been found to play a significant role in the development of adjustment problems during this period.
Depression in young people is a recurrent problem, and depressed youngsters often have accompanying problems such as anxiety or conduct disorders (Mash & Wolfe 2010:233). Almost all youngsters experience some symptoms of depression, and as many as 10% to 20% of adolescents experience significant depression at some time. (Mash & Wolfe 2010:234).
2. Adolescent depressive symptoms
The cardinal symptoms of depression include profound sadness and/or an inability to experience pleasure. Other symptoms of depression include irritability, loss of energy, lack of interest in day to day activities, significant weight-loss or gain, feelings of worthlessness, indecisiveness or diminished ability to think or concentrate, and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms may interfere with adolescents’ abilities to engage effectively in stage salient tasks, thereby potentially leading to negative lifelong consequences for physical and psychological health and wellbeing, and ultimately, it may lead to suicide.
Determining whether these symptoms indicate serious depression is difficult, because ‘normal adolescents’ is also a time of moodiness and, occasionally, social withdrawal.
3. Problems with diagnosis of depression in adolescence
Diagnosis of depression in adolescents can be difficult. Due to dramatic and physiological changes adolescents are undergoing, they are expected to be moody and unpredictable at times. Depression can be a response to many situations and stresses. In teenagers, depressed mood is common because of the normal process of maturing and the stress that occurs with it, the influence of sex hormones and independence conflicts with parents. It may also be a reaction to a disturbing event, such as the death of a friend or relative, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, or failure at school. It is difficult to know where teenage behaviour ends and where clinical depression starts.