In the past, depression was thought to be ‘Ã‹Å”the blues’ that affected primarily housewives. Since then, society’s understanding of mental illness has shifted, and it is now a well-known fact that various types of clinical depression affect all segments of the population, including teens. Five facts about teen depression help parents, teachers and peers to learn just a bit more.
1. Approximately 20 percent of teens suffer from depression.
Sue Scheff, the founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts, asserts that at any given time, 20 percent of teens will experience this disorder between childhood and adulthood. Even in adolescents who do not necessarily develop full-fledged clinical depression, there is a chance that an estimated 10 to 15 percent of teens present with one or more symptoms of depression.
2. Severity of depression and length of symptoms vary even in teens.
Just like adults experience mild to major forms of depression, adolescents, too, may have to deal with conditions that run the gambit from being relatively mild to actually being synonymous with a form of major depression. In fact, estimates reveal that about 8.3 percent of teenagers endure episodes of depressions lasting for at least 12 months at a time. Five percent have to fight conditions of major depression.
3. Teen depression and substance abuse are linked.
If the numbers are correct, and 30 percent of teenagers who deal with depression also deal with substance abuse, there is a good chance that both conditions are related. It is unclear whether the depression causes the drug abuse as a form of self-medication, or if the use of drugs leads to depression.
4. Preteen computer behavior may be tied to the development of depression later on.
Scientific American explains that research from the University of Bristol confirms a link between the quantity of time a preteen spends on the computer — or in front of a television — and the development of psychological problems. Directly connected to the amount of screen time were the formation of pessimism, isolation and unhappiness.
Once again, it is unclear whether a predisposition to these conditions brings them out, or whether screen time actually causes this early form of depression. It is likely that these problems — no matter what caused them — will go on to play a role in teen depression.
5. Less than 33 percent of affected teens get help.
In spite of these alarming figures, only about 33 percent — or less — actually seek out mental health help and receive the assistance they need. This figure suggests that even a good many teenagers who do seek help fail to receive it. It is unknown whether this is due to improper medication options for this age group, unavailable funds or misdiagnosis by a primary care provider.
Sue Scheff: “About Teenage Depression”
Scientific American: “Preteens and Glowing Screens”