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DEPRESSION IN ADOLESCENCE

We all go through situations when we say we are “depressed.” What most mean by that is that they have felt sad. Persistent sadness is just one symptom of what we call, “Clinical Depression.” In adolescence, this symptom is often accompanied by irritability. Apart from these, the following are other symptoms of depression:




  • Reduced capacity to experience pleasure- activities or things that were enjoyable previously are not looked forward to

  • Chronic tiredness and lowered energy levels

  • Poor attention and concentration

  • Crying spells

  • Changes in Sleep Pattern- it could be an increase or decrease in sleep

  • Changes in appetite or weight

  • Lowered self-esteem

  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

  • Thoughts of worthlessness, hopelessness and helplessness.





Several of the symptoms of Depression may seem “normal;” most people have experienced at least one or two of them at some point in their lives. However, in a depressive illness, there is presence of a cluster of symptoms which lasts for a continued period of time and which interferes with an individual social, personal and educational /occupational life.

Depression could have a triggering factor for example an experience of a major life event or may happen in the absence of any clear cut triggering factor. Depression in adolescents is associated with increased risks of social withdrawal, substance abuse, early pregnancy, educational underachievement and unemployment.

Therefore, it is important for parents, teachers and counselors to look for any changes in academics or behavior. This may be an early sign that something is wrong with the teenager. Early intervention may significantly decrease the number and severity of recurrent depressive episodes.

Depression is usually treated with a combination of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy.  Individual psychotherapy with a professional gives the adolescent a free space to “let themselves out”. Therapy also helps them develop better coping mechanisms and modify unhealthy patterns of thinking.

Therapy also aids families and significant others to cope with the challenges that come along when their teenager is going through depression.

Depression should be given priority like any other medical issue and treatment should be sought on an immediate basis to help support the teenager.