Causes and Symptoms of Depression in Teens

Blog Author By: Team Rhino
Causes and Symptoms of Depression in Teens

Ever noticed your teen losing interest in routine activities or social interactions? The seemingly normal teenager may be fighting sadness, anger, frustration or guilt, which are clear signs of teen depression.

Teenage depression is considered a serious mental illness, manifesting as emotional, physical, functional or behavioral problems. However, it is not easy to diagnose a teen with depression who apparently functions well through the day. Depression mainly exists behind closed doors, with weary smiles or laughs. But, in order to help your child overcome depression, it is essential to keep track of apparent causes and symptoms of depression in teens.

Causes of Depression in Teens

Why do teenagers experience depression? What causes stress, anxiety, sadness, and suicidality in teens? It is important to note here that certain factors become the root cause of depression. For instance, the environmental aspects become the triggers, such as; academic pressure, mental or physical abuse, parental expectations, drug abuse, strained relationships, loss of loved ones, peer pressure, sexual orientation, or family life. These factors usually become the cause of distress, tension, and hypertension among teens.

Over the years, mental health professionals have observed that teenage depression is on the rise. There are, however, some plausible explanations for depression in teens. The causes of depression vary for each individual, suggesting genetic, biological, environmental or social conditions.

Let us discuss the most significant causes of depression in teens.

Neurological Explanation

The neurotransmitter activity within the brain regulates the individual’s overall emotions, mood, feelings, thought processes and behavior. The prominent neurotransmitters involved in depression are serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Scientifically, a disruption in neurotransmitter activity in teens indicates a chemical imbalance. For example, a study on brain chemicals at Medical News Today proved that lower dopamine levels are believed to cause depressive moods.

Another guide on norepinephrine and depression suggests that lower levels of norepinephrine hormone indicate teenage depression. However, the norepinephrine imbalance does not necessarily affect the mood of chemical imbalances, or nutritional deficiencies. By restoring this neurochemical balance, depression symptoms can be alleviated.

Physical and Mental Health Conditions

Other prominent causes of teen depression are mental health illnesses with comorbid depression. Certain developmental illnesses such as ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety or eating disorders could become the cause of depression in an individual. For example, the teen experiencing learning difficulty is pressured to secure good grades, leading to depressive episodes that later manifest as clinical depression. Also, in the case of autistic children, the inability to perform in life aggravates their annoyance and causes low mood.

Likewise, certain physical illnesses become the cause of depression in young adults. For instance, teens with chronic illness feel helpless and pity their condition. This constant frustration leads them to experience depressive episodes. Likewise, teens with physical disabilities such as paralysis feel worthless and low on their dependency on others.

Strained Relationships

A history of strained familial or romantic relationships is often followed by depressive episodes in teens. For instance, emotional neglect from parents can cause a child to feel unworthy of love, being easily overwhelmed, sensitive to rejection and have low self-esteem.

Physical or Mental Abuse

In the early teenage, environmental and familial circumstances leave a lasting impression on personality development. The abusive and violent parents leave their children in a state of despair and constant fear. This later manifests in the form of depression, or in severe cases, it becomes post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, the insecure attachment styles of parents diminish their sense of trust or reliance on the parent figures.

Inherited Negative Thinking Pattern

Some teens display a pattern of negative thinking, hopelessness and fear of worthlessness that may have been inherited from their parents. In such cases, the children are mainly exposed to the pessimistic thinking of their parents and lack of will to overcome life challenges on their own. These repetitive negative thought patterns persist over age and cause depression in teens.

What are the Signs of Teen Depression?

Most parents report sadness, lack of interest, or irritability in teens. These signs manifest in early teens when puberty hits. But here’s a list of the most accurate teenage depression symptoms.

  • Irritability and annoyance over petty things
  • Difficulty concentrating on studies or any task
  • Sadness most of the day with crying spells
  • Grieving over the loss of loved ones
  • Feelings of worthlessness compared to others
  • Feeling hopeless about their future
  • Losing interest in routine activities or social interaction
  • Ruminating over the past
  • Fearful thoughts about future
  • Staying isolated and losing interest in everyone around
  • Frequent suicidal thoughts and attempts

Also, there are some behavioral symptoms of depression in teens, such as;

  • Feeling tired and sleepy all the time
  • Decreased appetite due to mood and feelings
  • Reports of body fatigue, aches and headaches
  • Absenteeism from school and social gatherings
  • Self-hatred, self-harm or violence toward others
  • Lack of personal hygiene or efforts into their appearance

How Would You Diagnose Depression in Young Adults?

Behavioral Observation 

You may have observed your teenager refusing to participate in extracurricular activities or avoiding routine contact with friends. These signs indicate that your teen might be experiencing a blue mood. To make an accurate diagnosis, it is essential to note the depressive episodes, duration and severity level. Also, the observable behavior of the teens itself speaks about their low mood and irritability.

Psychological Assessment

Mental health professionals use test batteries, psychological self-report inventories, or one-on-one interviews to determine the severity of depression in young adults. Parents and guardians are also interviewed to better understand the child’s mental condition. However, the treatment plan is devised based on the results of psychological assessments.

Medical Assessment 

Today, the medical assessments clearly show neurochemical imbalance or physical disability, further suggesting depression in teens. Also, it is common for individuals using substances to experience major depressive episodes and other comorbid substance abuse disorders.

Teen Depression Treatment

Understanding your child’s behavior and mood is the first step to treating their depression. Depressed teens, more often than not, remain isolated and do not involve themselves with family or routine activities. This isolation is considered to aggravate depression, so to include your teen in routine activities and help them regain trust in others may be helpful. For instance, you could talk to them and listen about their concerns openly and actively, help them acknowledge their feelings and process them with you, use short term distraction techniques to calm down a highly distressed teen by taking them to a sports club, or their favorite restaurant, or involve them in healthy activities such as music club, dance class or painting lessons. This shall help them rethink their situation and grow out of self-pity. Also, a healthy diet plan, exercise and quality time spent have also proved helpful with children experiencing frequent depressive episodes.

Mental Health Clinic

Although mental health support and a healthy lifestyle help reduce depressive mood in teens, but it does not help everyone alike. It is, therefore, necessary to seek professional psychological help from certified clinicians.

For that matter, Camali Clinic onboards the best adult psychologists in Dubai, offering expert adult, children and adolescent counseling and psychotherapy.