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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)


1) What is depression?

Depression is a real illness, with real causes, and real symptoms to help you recognize it. Since we’re all different, symptoms may vary widely from person to person. Not everyone will have all of the symptoms, not everyone will have the same symptoms. But the symptoms usually affect your daily functioning, and the symptoms persist.


2) Is My Teen Depressed?

If your teen is sleeping too much, eating too little, or showing other possible signs of depression, you may be wondering, "Is my teen depressed?" If your teen is depressed, there are a number of things you can do to help. Among other things, you can talk with other families in your community; find family network organizations; and get accurate information from the Internet, library, hotlines, or other sources. The first step in helping your teen is to have a talk with him or her if you notice behavioral changes or other possible signs of depression.


3) What causes teenage depression?

Depression can be caused by any single or combination of biological, psychological and social factors. Biological factors that play a role in depression include school bullying, hormonal imbalances, environmental stresses, genetic factors improper diet, and even certain medications. Psychological causes involve elements that predispose people to become depressed as a result of their unhealthy self-esteem and negative attitude towards others, the world around them, and the future. Pressures in life are also often at the root of depression problems, among them failure, frustration, and experiences of loss (death of a loved one, divorce, relocation, break-up with steady girl/boyfriend, etc.).


4) What are the Symptoms of Teen Depression?

Depressed teens will display a striking change in their thinking and behavior, lose their motivation, or become withdrawn. The following are the major signs of depression in adolescents.

Prolonged feelings of sadness or feeling down more often than not.
Significant changes in appetite or weight.
Sleep disturbances: insomnia or oversleeping.
Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety.
Feelings of worthlessness, pessimism or uncaring.
Lack of energy.
Headaches, body aches or pains.
Inability to accomplish work or tasks.
Memory loss or inability to concentrate.
Loss of interest in pleasurable activities.
Feeling of stress, heart racing or pounding.
Social withdrawal.
Suicidal thoughts.


5) Why do people get depressed?

Sometimes people get seriously depressed after something like a divorce in the family, major financial problems, someone you love dying, a messed up home life, or breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Other times, depression just happens. Often teenagers react to the pain of depression by getting into trouble: trouble with alcohol, drugs, or sex; trouble with school or bad grades; problems with family or friends. This is another reason why it's important to get treatment for depression before it leads to other trouble.


6) What is teenage depression like and when should parents be concerned?

While it is normal for everyone, not just teenagers, to feel the ‘blues’ occasionally, depression becomes an illness when the feelings of dejection, hopelessness, and despair persist and interfere with a person’s ability to function. Depression is often accompanied by feelings of helplessness, being overwhelmed by circumstances, withdrawal and isolation. People suffering from depression are often prone to lethargy, overeating or loss of appetite, worry, moodiness, withdrawal from family and friends, and lapse into inactivity.


7) How can depression affect my teen’s life?

The effects of depression can seriously affect every aspect of a teenager’s life. Feelings of happiness, contentment, enthusiasm, and pleasure are diminished. Activities once enjoyed are no longer of interest, and many people with symptoms of depression experience fatigue and listlessness. Work, school, and other activities that require concentration become extremely difficult. Even love, an emotion of pleasure, becomes difficult to feel when symptoms of depression are being experienced. In the extreme, it can lead to poor school performance, truancy, running away, substance abuse, and even suicide, all of which will have a lasting affect on your teen’s life well into adulthood.

Many teenagers with depression describe a feeling of separation from themselves. This isolation impacts relationships with friends and loved ones. Until the symptoms of depression are treated, depression negatively alters life and makes it extremely difficult for those suffering from it.

In extreme cases, depression can even lead to suicide. If you or someone you know has expressed any desire to harm themselves, please seek help immediately.


8) Can Teenage Depression be treated?

Yes! It is extremely important to understand that depression is a common emotional disturbance that can be treated. Depression is not a normal part of life, and the symptoms should not be ignored—they should be treated. The good news -- you can get treatment and feel better.


9) How can depression affect my teen's life?

The effects of depression can seriously affect every aspect of the teenage years. Feelings of happiness, contentment, enthusiasm, and pleasure are diminished. Socializing becomes a bore or extremely uncomfortable, making it difficult for them to enjoy the normal activities associated with adolescence. Work, school, and other activities that require concentration become extremely difficult. Even love, an emotion of pleasure, becomes difficult to feel when symptoms of depression are being experienced. In the extreme, it can lead to poor school performance, truancy, running away, substance abuse, and even suicide, all of which will have a lasting affect on your teen’s life well into adulthood.

Many teenagers with depression describe a feeling of separation from themselves. They view their life from the outside, like watching a movie. This isolation impacts relationships with friends and loved ones. Until the symptoms of depression are treated, depression negatively alters life and makes it extremely difficult for those suffering from it.


10) Does Teenage Depression Come Back?

Most teenagers with depression experience a recurrence at some point in their lives. Twenty percent to Forty percent of depressed teenagers relapse within two years, and 70 percent will do so by adulthood. The reasons for relapse are not known, but there is some evidence that experiencing a depression leaves behind psychological "scars" that may increase vulnerability throughout early life.

The age of first onset of depression appears to play a role in its course. Children who first become depressed before puberty are at risk of some form of mental disorder in adulthood, while teenagers who first become depressed after puberty are most likely to experience another episode of depression.

These different outcomes with depression before and after puberty suggest that different mechanisms may lead to superficially similar, but inherently different, clinical conditions. Some factors that can worsen the prognosis for depressed children and adolescents include:

  • Depression occurring in the context of conduct disorder.
  • Living in conflict-ridden families.

Children, and particularly adolescents, who suffer from depression, are at a much greater risk of committing suicide than are children without depression.


11) Are These Teen Depression Symptoms -- or a Normal Part of Growing Up?

There are a number of questions you should ask yourself when trying to figure out whether your teenager has depression symptoms, or is simply going through a normal part of development. Some of these questions include:

What is going on in his or her life to make him or her feel this way? Think about past and present problems.
When did this crying begin? Did it coincide with family tension, or the divorce, or problems in school?
How is he or she getting along with friends?
How are things in your family, now?
Are there any other problems or symptoms?

The answers to these questions provide clues about what is wrong and how to help your teenager.


12) Why Teenage Depression is often misdiagnosed?

Childhood depression is often confused with normal kid’s behavior or even ‘misbehavior.’ Let’s face it, sometimes kids do dumb, impulsive or irrational things. A lot of times they get angry and are defiant with their parents or authority figures. And unfortunately, sometimes even their doctor will miss depression signs and treat them for Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) General Anxiety Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. (It’s important to note that most teenagers who suffer from depression also suffer from ODD or another similar disorder.) However, if a teen is angry or shows unusual behavior for more than a couple of weeks, he or she should talk with a doctor.


13) What should I do if I think my teen’s is depressed?

If you suspect that a teenager in your life is suffering from depression, take action right away. Depression is very damaging when left untreated, so don’t wait and hope that the symptoms will go away by itself. Even if you’re unsure that depression is the issue, the troublesome behaviors and emotions you’re seeing in your teenager are signs of a problem. Whether or not that problem turns out to be depression, it still needs to be addressed—the sooner the better.


14) How common is depression in teenagers?

In a national study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, 61 percent of 8th to 10th graders reported feeling sad and hopeless, 36 percent reported nothing to look forward to, and 34 percent expressed serious thoughts of committing suicide.

Despite the very real threat during the teen years, many families do not like to talk about depression or suicide with their children. In fact, many believe that discussing this problem makes depression and suicide more likely to happen.

In reality, talking to teens about their feelings may make them feel less hopeless and sad. If your teen is exhibiting one or more of the warning signs, you may also want to seek further evaluation of his behavior with a professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or pediatrician.


15) Are antidepressants addictive?

No, Doctor-prescribed antidepressants are neither addictive nor habit forming. They do not cause an emotional high or numbness. Antidepressant medications repair brain chemistry so the brain can function normally.


16) How many American teenagers are clinically depressed?

It is estimated that five percent of all teenagers will suffer from major depression. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of these teenagers will be diagnosed and even fewer will receive proper treatment.


17) How common is bullying?

Almost 30 percent of teens in the United States (or over 5.7 million) are estimated to be involved in bullying as either a bully, a target of bullying, or both. In a recent national survey of students in grades 6 to 10, 13 percent reported bullying others, 11 percent reported being the target of bullies, and another 6 percent said they bullied others and were bullied themselves.

Limited available data suggest that bullying is much more common among younger teens than older teens. As teens grow older, they are less likely to bully others and to be the targets of bullies.

Bullying occurs more frequently among boys than girls. Teenage boys are much more likely to bully others and to be the targets of bullies. While both boys and girls say others bully them by making fun of the way they look or talk, boys are more likely to report being hit, slapped, or pushed. Teenage girls are more often the targets of rumors and sexual comments. While teenage boys target both boys and girls, teenage girls most often bully other girls, using more subtle and indirect forms of aggression than boys. For example, instead of physically harming others, they are more likely to spread gossip or encourage others to reject or exclude another girl.


18) What is bullying?

Bullying includes a wide variety of behaviors, but all involve a person or a group repeatedly trying to harm someone who is weaker or more vulnerable. It can involve direct attacks (such as hitting, threatening or intimidating, maliciously teasing and taunting, name-calling, making sexual remarks, and stealing or damaging belongings) or more subtle, indirect attacks (such as spreading rumors or encouraging others to reject or exclude someone).

 

 

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