The teen years are almost always a time of stress and confusion as the person transitions to adulthood. With all of this happening, it’s easy to miss symptoms of real depression. Teens are vulnerable to this condition and they’re particularly at risk for the following types.
Clinical or major depression is normally thought of as a deep sadness, and it can often take that form among teens, but in this age group, it often shows itself as irritability and angry outbursts. Other indicators of major depression include sleep disturbances, slowed reaction time, lack of interest in social activities, inability to focus, a sense of hopelessness, falling academic performance, and thoughts of suicide or dying. Major depression should be suspected if these symptoms last over a couple of weeks. Negative events can trigger a bout of depression but it can also arise for no obvious reason.
Persistent Depressive Disorder
Persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia, strongly resembles clinical depression with the key differences of less intense symptoms and a longer duration. In fact, this condition can persist for years in many cases. Like major depression, talk therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy are strongly preferred over medication for teen patients.
While bipolar disorder includes a significant amount of depression, it’s a very different condition requiring a very different form of treatment. Along with periods of depression, this condition also involves manic or hypomanic phases that are characterized by behaviors like insomnia, irritability, lack of attention, and rapid speech. Bipolar disorder can pose a threat during both its depressive and manic or hypomanic phases.
These phases can lead to reckless behavior like drug and alcohol abuse and unsafe sexual promiscuity. Medication is the best means of treating this disorder but the antidepressants normally used for clinical depression can be dangerous by triggering a manic or hypomanic episode. For this reason, it’s extremely important that it’s not confused with major depression.
Unlike major depression, adjustment disorder always has a triggering event. The symptoms are very similar to those of major depression but this disorder is best treated by addressing the underlying cause. This can be anything from a change of schools to interpersonal relationship difficulties. The depression tied to this disorder shouldn’t last more than six months.
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