Depression has become a serious problem in our teenage culture. There are many reasons for this trend but it is most important to notice the pressures faced by teens in today’s society. Apart from the pressure from parents to excel at school, teens also face immense pressure from their peers. Teens are struggling with “fitting in” while trying to answer the questions, “Who am I and where do I belong?” Identity is a major factor for teens, they want to associate with others that are likable. It can be quite difficult for a teen if they are unsure about where to fit in or if they are rejected by peers he or she would like to identify with.
Bullying is another factor that has received increased attention. Especially since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School and the recent shooting at Chardon High School, observations have been made regarding the link between bullying, depression, and homicidal thoughts. According to research, teens that are involved in bullying are more likely to become depressed than teens that stay away from it.
Research has also touched on the relationship of antidepressants and homicidal thoughts. It has been shown that teens that used antidepressants were more likely to experience suicidal or homicidal thoughts. In the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who analyzed the massacre at Columbine, revealed that side effects of anti-depressants may include increased aggression, loss of remorse, depersonalization, and mania.
Most Common Signs of Depression in Teens
1. Your teen is very irritable, expresses a lot of anger and hostility toward others.
2. Problems at school: Depression can cause concentration problems, which can lead to a drop in grades and poor attending behavior. Your teen may also be a victim of bullying.
3. Your teen experiences extreme fatigue, lack of energy and motivation to do things.
4. Reckless behavior: Depression can cause your teen to engage in high-risk behaviors including drug and alcohol abuse, unsafe sex, and violence toward others.
5. Thoughts of death and/or suicide.
What to do if you notice a teen experiencing any of these:
If your teen is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above it would be wise to sit down with them and let them express their feelings to you. It is important not to undermine what they are going through and have a non-judgmental attitude toward what they may share with you. Teenagers may be very reluctant to open up about their problems. It can be very difficult for them to express how they feel. If the teenager persistently refuses to engage in conversation it may also be a good idea to reach out to a specialist for advice.
About the Author: Isabell Ohlinger is a graduate student at Palm Beach Atlantic University where she is pursuing a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. Isabell is originally from Germany and came to the United States on a tennis scholarship to the University of Central Florida. She has a heart to serve, educate and to continue to learn as she believes we are all life-long students.