Adolescent Depression in The U.S.

Everyday, teenagers have a routine. They usually get up, go to school, and come home. Each of these activities are filled with many complex issues, stress related problems, and pressure. These issues can lead to depression. Every 1 teenager out of 5 will develop a type of depression (Jones 1). Adolescent depression is a disease that affects the psyche in a way that the person affected with it will act and react abnormally toward others and themselves (Blackman 2). About 19 million Americans are diagnosed with some sort of depression. 9 million of them are adolescents (Jones 1). Suicide is affiliated with depression greatly. 15% of all adolescents who are diagnosed with depression commit suicide (Jones 1). Since 1995, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in American adolescents, surpassing cardiovascular disorders, and all types of cancer (Jones 2). The Minnesota study found that 88% of the youth who reported making suicide attempts were depressed. Adolescent depression is very serious, and can cause many major difficulties in a teenagers life. It is important to get to the root of depression, and take care of it at an early stage of the disease. A way to do this is to watch out for the causes, and avoid them.

The main causes for adolescent depression in the U.S. are stress, the need to fit in, and family problems. Dr. Richard Brown said, the reason depression in teenagers is often overlooked because they are not always able to express how they feel(Marron 1). Since adolescence is a time of rebellion and experimentation, depression is often masked by teenagers. The challenge is to identify depressive symptoms that may be hidden by the backdrop of the storm of temporary, but expected development (Blackman 103). Because of this, it is important that everyone involved with the afflicted persons life should know of the disorder and support it(Adolescent Depression 1). Teenagers are faced with many difficult decisions, not only I school, but in normal life. Making important decisions can cause stress. In 1986, a study was done of Minnesota high school students. Results show that 39% of the students who were stressed suffer from mild depression. Many things cause stress. A breakup with a boy/girl friend, increased arguments with parents, trouble with brother or sister, change in parents’ financial status, serious illness or injury of family member, or the leading cause, trouble with classmates, or grades.

All of these events are centered at the places an adolescents life usually take place, home and school. When a teenaged girl was asked, Do you feel stressed out over homework? The answer was, Yes, I think about what homework I have the whole car ride home from school(An Interview). The need to fit in is a major factor to adolescent depression. When children move towards adolescence, they become more involved with their peers. This is when teens begin to discover the world. This is when peer pressure comes into place. Not all peer pressure can be bad. Some can be pressuring others to do positive things with their lives. When parents hear about the peer pressure going on, they have an automatic reaction to it. An automatic reaction can actually put negative pressure on their own child(Peer Pressure and its effect on Teens 1). A teenager was asked, do you feel the need to fit in? The response of this specific teenager was No, I personally feel that I can be my own person, but I think most teens do feel like they need to go with the flow(An Interview). Since peer pressure is such a great influence on adolescents, other disorders can easily be developed.

Anorexia is a disorder that decreases the appetite. Anorexia is formed in adolescents because they feel that they need to be skinny to fit in. Western civilization has developed an image that people look better if they are not obese. 90-95% of all adolescent anorexia is developed in girls( ). However, when it is developed in males, it is usually more severe. Many people believe that anorexia is when you dont eat. The truth of the matter is that anorexia is when you always have what you eat, and are eating on your mind. In adolescents, and most adults, anorexia causes depression. Since depression is caused a lot by low energy, and food gives you energy, this can make people depressed. Anorexia can be developed before, or as an effect of depression. This is the most common disorder that is linked to depression in teens ( ). Bulimia is another disorder occurring in teens. Bulimia is when you make yourself regurgitate food after eating. The reason people do this is to lose weight. Usually adolescents dont know what it does to your body. When you regurgitate, acid comes up along with food.

The acid burns holes in your throat, because your throat isnt made to uphold the bacteria in the acid. Also, bulimia causes cavities in the teeth, dehydration, constipation, and usually, a mood disorder to go along with it. Between the ages of 14 and 25 is when adolescents are able to build the most muscle. If an adolescent is not getting protein and other nutrients in food, he or she will not be able to. Bulimia is not just genetically formed. It is usually caused by people or a person pressuring you to become thin. During this, depression is formed. Not only the pressure, but not getting energy, and vitamins and nutrients that the body needs. Anxiety is another disorder that is greatly linked to adolescent depression. There are many complications in anxiety. One of them is obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is when compulsive behaviors are always on the mind. Another complication of anxiety is social phobia. This is when a person is scared to socialize.

If an adolescent is scared to socialize with others, there wont be any fun in that adolescents life, which is another factor of depression. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a disorder after something traumatic happens in someones life. Usually, they are scared to come close to anything in which might trigger that problem again. If one of the traumatic things that happen is linked to a hobby, or something that the person loves, it will take away from their life. For instance, if someones long lasting relationship fails, that person might be afraid to ever fall in love again. Anxiety usually appears before the depression. It also contributes greatly to the depression. ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, is common in 30% of adolescents ( ). ADHD is when a person cannot focus on something for a long time. This adds to depression because people with it have trouble learning, and completing tasks, and when tasks cant get done, people get stressed out.

A person affected with ADHD usually has trouble with school. In adolescence, school is a major factor of life. When school tasks cannot be completed properly, the adolescents life is in present, and future danger. Having low blood sugar is also linked to depression. Having things with a lot of carbohydrates develops low blood sugar. An over consumption of carbohydrates causes the blood sugar level to rise rapidly, stimulating the pancreas to secrete an excess of insulin. This excess insulin removes too much sugar from the blood, resulting in an abnormally low blood sugar level(Todays Herbs 10). Low blood sugar can be inherited. As well with anorexia, and bulimia, low blood sugar causes the body to have less energy. Without energy, tasks are hard to get done. This causes stress, which causes depression. Any chronic illness can cause depression. For example, chronic migraines. Migraines are bad enough as it is. Up to 25% of the U.S. is affected with migraines (Zasler 1).

Migraines are triggered inside the head. Light and sound irritates the headache. The affects of a migraine are completely consuming, and living with this chronic pain can be torture, both physically and emotionally(Tilley-Williams 2). Migraines get in the way of doing schoolwork, socializing with friends, and the ability to function. Chronic migraines are just one type of chronic illness that is linked to depression. Many others have the same effects on people. For example the inability to function, or concentrate, when you are too caught up in your illness. Alzheimers Disease is also linked to depression. Depression is very common among people with Alzheimer’s disease. About half of these people have serious depression. In many cases, they become depressed when they realize that their memory and ability to function are worsening. Unfortunately, depression may make it even harder for a person with Alzheimer’s disease to function, to remember things and to enjoy life.

You are able to tell if someone with Alzheimers disease is depressed because they will not want to get up and do things, feel worthless, or question life, refusal to eat, and sleeping too much or too little (Alzheimer’s Association 1). Although this doesnt occur in adolescents most of the time, an adolescent who has a relative, or someone they are close to that has depression because of this, often times can be depressed. Another illness that is linked to depression is anemia. Anemia is caused by a deficiency of the vitamin b-12. Anemia makes the blood flow to the stomach a difficult process. Since this causes mood swings, and memory loss, it is obvious that depression will be formed. Sometimes, depression can be genetic. In which case, the adolescent inherits depression from a parent, or grandparent. Depression is most likely inherited in adolescent girls (Brooks 25). The information in DNA is relayed to the spouse.

If the brain of a parent has the depressive mentality, it is very possible that it will be spread to their children (Raymond 1). Brain cells communicate with each other by releasing chemicals across the synapse, or the space between the cells. When that’s disrupted, disorders like depression can occur(Hyman 4). Children with depressed parents have 3 times the risk factor for becoming depressed(Paxman 1). Also, any person with a family member who has depression has a 25% of developing depression (Paxman 1). As everyone knows, teenagers are rebellious. Also, everyone knows that parents discipline this. But parents should know that in rebelling, teens are fulfilling an important psychological need(Health Canada 3). Also, teens have mood swings, criticize their parents, are aggressive on and off, argumentative, and are most of the time, self- centered. These things are normal for adolescents. Family problems between parents and teens emerge because parents dont understand that this is normal. However, parents need to keep these behaviors under control to an extent so that these habits dont turn into violence or self- defeat (Health Canada 4). When a teenager feels defeated, he or she will most of the time shape depression.

This is why parents should not over dominate the adolescent, and control the teenagers life. Not only can family problems be caused with the arguments between the parent and adolescent, but physical, and sexual abuse is a major contributing factor to adolescent depression. Psychiatrists have reported that adults being treated for depression or eating disorders, particularly women, often have a history of being sexually abused as children(Haiken 1). The depth of depression in these people depends on how much, or how often they were abused. Because the abuse was driven from someone close, and in the same family, adolescents start to distrust everyone. Lack of trust becomes a problem later on when they establish relationships with other people. When these abused adolescents turn into adults, they do not like to be touched in any way by anyone because it reminds them of the abuse (Haiken 1).

Families have problems, not involving the child, but it affects the child greater than anyone else. An example of this would be divorce. Each year, over 1 million American children suffer the divorce of their parents(The Heritage Foundation 1). Table 1 shows the number of children that are affected in some way by divorce each year since 1950 1996. The chart shows that since 1950, the divorce rate has risen 135% in 1980. This fact goes along with the suicide rate, which has risen 200% since 1960. Families also have financial problems. When the financial problem is so severe in the family, and the teenager knows about it, it will cause major depression in the adolescent. Family is a very important part of an adolescents life. Adolescents are at a higher risk of depression with a family with a financial, divorce problem, or friction between parents and adolescents. Bibliography: