Teen depression is quickly becoming one of the major concerns of adolescence and the statistics are sobering. As the most common mental disorder among teens and adults in the U.S., depression is making its presence felt earlier and earlier. Studies have estimated that:
- Approximately 20 percent of teens will suffer from depression before reaching adulthood and between 10 and 15 percent are experiencing at least some symptoms at any one time.
- Most teens suffering from depression will ultimately have to deal with more than one episode. 20 to 40 percent will have more than one episode within two years and up to 70 percent will have more than one episode before adulthood. It is estimated that an episode generally lasts around 8 months.
- Over 8 percent of teens suffer from depression for up to a year, compared with 5.3 percent of the general population.
- Around 2 percent of teens are affected with Dysthymia, which is a type of mild, long-lasting depression. 15 percent of teens with depression eventually go on to develop bipolar disorder.
While outside factors can sometimes affect the onset of depression, it is can be found in any teen regardless of social background, gender, income level, race or school involvement. Adolescent girls are more likely to suffer from depression, but teen boys are less likely to recognize the symptoms or seek help. It is estimated that this is a result of different social expectations for boys and girls, where girls are encouraged to express their feelings and boys are not. Girls also have a strong dependence on social ties, which can increase the chance of depression being generated by social factors, such as loss of friends or bullying. There are some other risk factors that also increase the chances of a depression episode:
- Previous episode
- Abuse, trauma, disability or long term illness
- Family history. Up to 50 percent of teens with depression have a genetic tie to it through a family member.
- Untreated mental conditions. Around two thirds of teens with depression also have an undiagnosed mental disorder such as drug or alcohol addiction, anxiety or dysthemia
While depression in itself is uncomfortable, it can also lead to a higher risk for other issues:
- Around 30 percent of depressed teens develop a substance abuse problem.
- Teens with untreated depression are more likely to engage in risky behavior, both sexual and physical.
- Depressed teens have greater trouble in school, jobs and relationships
- Teens with depression are more prone to physical illnesses than emotional healthy teens.
- Untreated depression can lead to suicide, which is the third leading cause of death among teens.
While some amount of depression is common among teens during the adolescent years, if you are concerned that your child has a moderate to severe problem, you should seek help immediately. Depression is often treatable through medication and/or lifestyle changes and there are specialists who can advise and help your teen get through the more severe cases. Be aware of any consistent changes in your child’s personality or mood and familiarize yourself with the warning signs. You are your teen’s best resource for getting through these formative years, happy and healthy.
Liahona Academy is a residential treatment center located in southern Utah. We specialize in helping troubled teen boys gain the tools they need to successfully meet day to day challenges. If you have questions about our program or would like a free consultation, please call us at 1-800-675-8101.