It’s no secret that teens can be a bit moody and impulsive. Even the straight-A, honor roll student may do something from time to time which leaves their parents scratching their heads wondering, what were they thinking? But there’s a legitimate reason why teenagers can act in such a confusing manner – their brains are in the process of developing.
We know now that the human brain isn’t fully developed until our twenties, so it makes sense that children and teens can sometimes act in a way that may seem confusing or irrational to adults. However, problems can arise when we dismiss certain behaviors as being “just a phase” when in reality they’re a sign of a deeper issue – and with depression in young people on the rise, it’s especially important to not overlook the warning signs.
Prevalence of Depression in Teens and Children
Studies have shown that roughly 20% of teens experience depression before reaching adulthood. And while depression in children is less common, still, it’s estimated that one out of every 40 kids has depression.
Another study found an increase in the number of young people (aged 12 – 20) who experienced a Major Depressive Episode (MDE) within the previous 12 months. In this study, a MDE was considered to be a period of at least two weeks where a low mood is present in most situations. Symptoms included low self-esteem, loss of interest in once enjoyed activities, sleep issues, low energy, and trouble concentrating.
In 2005, 8.7% of teens experienced a Major Depressive Episode in the past 12 months, compared to 11.5% of teens in 2014 – a 37% increase in less than a decade.
Identifying Symptoms of Depression in Teens and Children
Identifying depression symptoms can be challenging. According to the Mayo Clinic, keep an eye out for emotional changes such as:
Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason
Feeling hopeless or empty
Irritable or annoyed mood, which can include feelings of frustration or anger over minor things
Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, including social isolation
Low self-esteem, which can include self-blame and self-criticism
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance
Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak
Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
Also, look for behavioral or physical changes that may indicate your child or teen is suffering from depression:
Changes in sleep- sleeping too much or too little, low energy level
Changes in appetite — decreased or increased appetite and weight changes
Use of alcohol or drugs
Agitation or restlessness — for example, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
“Brain fog” or slowed thinking
Somatic complaints such as headaches or body aches
Poor school performance or frequent absences from school
Self-harm — for example, cutting, burning, or excessive piercing or tattooing
Making a suicide plan or attempt
It can be difficult to distinguish between the expected emotional highs and lows that come with growing up, and signs of a deeper issue. A great way to test the waters is to simply talk to your child. If you think your child may need some extra help and you’d like to learn about Neurocore’s med-free depression program, give us a call at 800.600.4096.
While there may be information on the Neurocore website relating to certain conditions, should a medical condition exist, promptly see your own physician or health provider. Neurocore does not offer medical diagnosis or treatment advice. Neurocore makes no claims that it can cure any conditions, including any conditions referenced on its website or in print materials, including ADHD, anxiety, autism, depression, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, migraines, headaches, stress, sleep disorders, Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you take prescription medications for any of these conditions, you should consult with your physician before discontinuing use of such medications.