Understanding teenage depression: Common causes and risk factors
Check out some of the most common causes of depression in teenagers and know how these factors can be addressed to help young people improve their mental health and well-being.
Depression is a common mental health condition that affects people of all ages, including teenagers. Adolescence is a time of many changes, and it can be a challenging period for many young people. While some teens may experience occasional feelings of sadness or moodiness, depression is a more serious and persistent condition that can significantly impact a teenager's daily life and functioning. There are many different factors that can contribute to depression in teenagers. Some of these factors may include biological, genetic, environmental, and social factors. Understanding these causes can help parents, teachers, and mental health professionals identify the signs of depression in teens and provide appropriate support and treatment. (Also read: Red flags for diagnosing early depression in teenagers)
Dr. Paula Goel, Consultant Pediatrician, Adolescent Physician and the Founder of Fayth Clinic, shared with HT Lifestyle, some common causes of depression in teenagers.
1. Brain chemistry: Neurotransmitters carry the brain chemicals and signals to the other parts of the body and brain. When these chemicals are abnormal or impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems changes, leading to depression.
2. Hormones: Changes in hormone levels may trigger depression.
3. Inherited traits: Traits acquired from family members.
4. Early childhood trauma: Physical or emotional abuse, or loss of a parent, may cause changes in the brain that increase the risk of depression.
5. Learned patterns of negative thinking: Teenage depression may be associated with learning to feel powerless rather than learning to feel capable of overcoming obstacles in life.
There are multiple factors that increase or decrease the risk of developing or triggering teen depression. These include:
- Having a learning disability or ADHD
- Substance abuse
- Anorexia, bulimia, personality disorders, bipolar illness, and other mental health concerns
- Low self-esteem due to body shaming,narcissistic , pessimistic attitude, peer problems, long-term bullying or academic problems
- Chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes or asthma
Your teen's risk of depression may also be increased by family history and problems with relatives or others, such as:
1. Having a parent, grandparent, or another blood member who suffers from alcoholism, bipolar disorder, or depression
2. Family members with major communication and relationship problems
3. Experiencing recent traumatic life circumstances, such as parental divorce, parental military duty, or the loss of a loved one.
4. Having a family member who committed suicide.
Depression symptoms will not get better by just staying at home and may also lead to suicide or other problems if left untreated. Also, ensure the following:
- Call your local emergency number immediately.
- Teenagers can talk to their friends, family members, their counsellors or adolescent physician as and when required
- Developing hobbies like sports, music , dance, pottery or engaging in some social community work is helpful
- Make sure someone stays with that person.
- Take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.
- Never dismiss remarks or worries about suicide.
- Always take action to get help.
It is necessary to talk to your teenager at any point in time if you suspect that the child is facing problems and is incapable of meeting challenges or is life overwhelmed. It is necessary to visit your doctor.