Not long ago, it was a common belief that teens could not get depressed. Teenagers that exhibited depression symptoms were often dismissed as simply having the “blues”.
Today, medicine has evolved, and we now know that depression can develop in adolescence. Although 11 percent of teens will have a depressive disorder before the age of 18, there is a lot that still needs to be learned about the subject.
Mental health professionals are conducting research and are trying to identify risk factors for teen depression. Recent studies suggest that the factors below may increase a teenager’s chance of developing depression. You may be surprised by the risk factors on this list.
1. Early Puberty
Research from a study published in the journal, Development and Psychopathology suggests that early puberty in both males and females increases the risk for depression. What exactly does puberty have to do with depression?
Often, early puberty is associated with many factors that are linked to depression including high anxiety levels, poor-self image, social problems and hanging out with deviant peers.
2. Speed and Ecstasy Use
Medical professionals have been concerned for some time about the effects of synthetic drugs on the brain. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health is doing nothing to ease their fears.
The five-year study found teens that abuse the party drug MDMA (Ecstasy) and speed (methamphetamine) are more prone to depression. In fact, teens who abused either drug were 60-70 percent more likely to exhibit depression symptoms. Furthermore, teens that used both drugs were twice as likely to have depression symptoms as their peers who used neither substance.
3. Military Deployments of Family Members
Since September 11, 2001, only a small fraction of the U.S. population has been on active duty. With so few serving in the military, it’s easy for the civilian population to overlook the impact that deployments have on military families.
Findings from a University of Southern California study suggest that teenagers who experience the deployment of a family member may be at an increased risk for depression. High school students that experienced two or more deployments in their families were 41 percent more likely to report depressive symptoms. This may be the result of kids being worried and concerned about their deployed loved ones.
Additionally, over 24 percent of the teenagers that had a parent or sibling in the military reported having had suicidal thoughts.
Although well known within the medical community, the general public is often unaware how gender can influence teen depression. The prevalence of depression in childhood is even between males and females. However, this all changes when adolescence rolls around. Adolescent girls are twice as likely as boys to become depressed.
Why are teen girls more likely to suffer from depression?Right now, there is no exact answer. Some clinicians believe that it could be because girls emotionally mature faster than boys do. This emotional maturity could lead to them becoming more susceptible to depression. During puberty, girls also begin to realize that their peers and the outside world are judging their looks. The pressure to look a certain way may cause teenage girls to become depressed.
Don’t Take Depression Lightly
If you suspect that your teenager or an adolescent close to you is suffering from depression, it’s important to get them help. Teens that suffer from mild depression are more likely to grapple with major depressive, anxiety, and eating disorders in adulthood. The impact of depression can follow adolescents through life, including major events such as marriage, childbirth and careers.
In some cases, teenagers may feel so depressed that they attempt suicide. Every year, more than 4,500 teenagers commit suicide. With that staggering number, it is important that none of us take teen depression lightly.