More than a simple temporary sadness, depression in teens plunges the child into real daily distress requiring appropriate psychotherapeutic care.
Depression in teens is a real illness that causes deep sadness over a long period of time and leads to changes in behavior. Depression in teens is sometimes complicated by running away or attempting suicide, especially in adolescents. A child with depression can suffer to the point of contemplating suicide, although children under 12 rarely do. It is estimated that depression strikes 0.5% of canadian children, which represents around 45,000 cases.
Symptoms of depression in teens are irritability, aggression, overwhelming excitement, or a tendency to isolation, or loss of interest in play. We can also observe unusual school difficulties, appetite disturbances or loss of self-esteem. These disorders are most often sudden and lasting. In adolescents, we observe provocative behavior: drug or alcohol abuse, running away, delinquency, self-harm, eating disorders, etc.
Parents should be alert to the possible symptoms of depression in teens. These behaviors often appear suddenly:
He is having difficulties at school, which he did not encounter before. His results deteriorate, he has difficulty concentrating, he is often lost in his thoughts, he is withdrawn or, conversely, disrupts the class.
He often has mood swings. He alternates between phases of irritability where he gets angry easily, and phases of withdrawal where he has no taste for anything. He disdains the activities which entertained him until then, video games, sports, games with friends, reading, etc.
He is sad and has a strong tendency to self-esteem ("I suck", "Nobody loves me").
He eats a lot or lacks appetite. Its weight curve varies by more than 5% in a month or displays an unusual delay.
He is bored and watches excessively late television.
He has trouble falling asleep, his sleep is disturbed, he has nightmares; he is tired and grumpy during the day.
He frequently complains of headaches or stomach aches.
Adolescence is a disturbed and disturbing period: acceptance of changes in your body, renunciation of the world of childhood, discovery of sexuality, rejection of the parental image, etc. This naturally chaotic transition to adulthood sometimes comes in extreme pain and can lead to full-blown depression. It is estimated that about 3% of adolescents experience a period of depression, and that two-thirds of them are girls.
Adolescent depression often takes a masked form and can, if not caught in time, show itself abruptly in a suicide attempt. Seven hundred adolescents commit suicide each year in Canada and suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-old. The disease can be expressed through provocative behavior: drug or alcohol abuse, running away, delinquency, sudden withdrawal from school, self-harm, eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia). Girls tend to complain of somatic disorders (stomach aches, insomnia, back pain (low back pain) while boys tend to suffer from aggression or antisocial behavior. The adult entourage (parents, teachers) do not necessarily think depression and may attribute these manifestations to a particularly severe adolescent crisis.
Other disorders should lead to seeing a doctor such as reluctance to speak, truancy, trouble sleeping, uncontrolled crying or recurring dark thoughts.
Young people who have had one or more depressive episodes will be more susceptible to these disorders in adulthood, especially if the depression was not properly treated in adolescence.