Adolescent Depression: Important to Detect and Treat Early

The teen years can be challenging and confusing times. The transition from adolescence to adulthood is not an easy one for many young people as they try to establish their place in the world. Pressures to perform well academically, fickle relationships and living up to parental and peer expectations are just some of the issues that can weigh heavily on the mind of a teenager.

Occasional moodiness and angst are normal for most teens as they navigate their way through adolescence. These are often typical responses to circumstances that young people have not yet developed the skills or maturity to process. As time moves forward, the healthy adolescent will gain the experience and perspective necessary to handle many of the situations that once confounded them.

Symptoms of Adolescent Depression

For some teens however, moodiness, sadness and irritability are not so fleeting. Prolonged bouts with these and other symptoms including withdrawal from friends and family; hostility and extreme sensitivity; expressing feelings of worthlessness; and loss of interest in activities may indicate problems at a deeper level.

Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., affecting approximately 10-15 percent of the nation’s teens. If symptoms such as those described above persist for more than a period of a few weeks, it would be wise to seek help as soon as possible.

Depression Treatment: The Sooner the Better

The earlier that mood disorders such as depression are detected and treated, the better. If left unaddressed, the chances of depression leading to substance abuse and other destructive behaviors — and even suicide — are greatly increased.

After initial screening, treatment for teen depression will often include a combination of medication and talk therapy. Teens that are prescribed antidepressant medications are carefully monitored for side effects. Talk therapy and cognitive therapies help young patients replace negative thought patterns with positive ones by providing them with a better understanding of the causes for their thoughts, feelings and behavior.

Detecting depression early and beginning treatment right away will enhance the chances of a faster and smoother recovery. A complete “cure” for depression is never guaranteed. However, proper treatment can set an adolescent on the path toward living a good and productive life.