The transition from adolescent to teenager is not only a physical transformation – it’s a huge mental and psychological change too. Most teenagers have to make adjustments in their lives, which could result in unexpected emotions and problems. Some young people may even face mental health issues – like anxiety and depression – as they go through puberty.
Many parents will chalk up their teen’s depression to puberty or teenage angst. Unfortunately, this can lead to the teenagers using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate for an undiagnosed mental illness. This article cited a study conducted by a group at Duke University Medical Center. The researchers found that only 10% of 192 adolescents whose depression receded after 12 weeks of treatment later abused drugs. This was in comparison to 25% of adolescents whose treatment was not effective and who later used drugs. Despite the small sample size, the research shows that teens who received treatment for their depression were less likely to abuse drugs later on.
Depression is not an easy condition to treat. However, there are many ways to treat the disorder including cognitive behavioral therapy, drugs, and other alternative therapies. It’s important for parents to recognize the signs of teenage depression and get their son or daughter help before it’s too late. Common signs of depression include irritability, changes in appetite and sleep, and poor performance in school. These changes in behavior are normal for most teenagers, but parents should watch for the severity and longevity of the symptoms. Depression can only be diagnosed by a trained psychologist or psychiatrist.