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Adolescent depression is a dangerous condition, negatively affecting the person’s development and possibly leading them to commit self-destructive actions, up to and including suicide. While these effects are similar to the influence of depression on adults, the condition is harder to identify in adolescents due to their difficulty in determining their moods. To successfully combat the disorder, reliable diagnosis and well-tested treatment methods are necessary.
Much like the adult variant, adolescent depression, also known as teenage depression, is a mental condition primarily affecting the mood. It expresses itself as constant stress and anxiety, changing what the affected person feels and thinks. Despite popular belief, depression rarely disappears on its own, and disappearance of the condition may mean that the disorder is chronic and will periodically express itself as depressive episodes.
Adolescent depression is a relatively widespread condition and possibly the most common mental disorder among teenagers. According to Bhatia and Bhatia (2007), up to 15 percent of children and adolescents display symptoms of depression, five percent of adolescents qualify for the major depressive disorder, and three percent suffer from the dysthymic disorder. The authors list a variety of risk factors, most notably the female sex, history of depression or abuse in the family, and chronic illness.
Adolescents tend not to be adept at analyzing their state of mind, and therefore depression is often misdiagnosed in them. Possible indicators of the condition include aggressive, hostile behavior, as it may be provoked by an irritable mood, as well as anxiety, lack of concentration, and a short attention span. The last three symptoms also describe the attention deficit disorder, and so the medical specialist must take care to avoid confusing the two.
Depression is a mental disorder, and so its symptoms are mostly stable, but the same cannot be said about the influence of those symptoms on the person. According to Bhatia and Bhatia (2007), “Major depressive disorder is a leading cause of youth suicidal behavior and suicide” (p. 73). Furthermore, they also state that approximately two-thirds of children affected by the major depressive disorder also have another mental condition.
To diagnose depression, the practitioner must determine the cause and severity of the condition affecting the person. According to Bhatia and Bhatia (2007), if the patient is utilizing specific medication, the illness is referred to as secondary depressive mood disorder, and treatment is postponed until after the person stops using the medicine. After that, they provide a table of questions that help determine the exact type of depression. If the patient also suffers from substance abuse, it is necessary to find out whether they had shown symptoms of depression in periods when the abuse was not present.
Depression is one of the most common disorders among adolescents, and its consequences are potentially fatal. The matter is further complicated by the difficulty in noticing the signs of the condition and diagnosing it. Adolescents have trouble recognizing their mental issues, and from an outside perspective, depression is easy to confuse for another, less severe issue. As such, it is possible to formulate the following PICOT question:
- in adolescents (P),
- how does cognitive therapy alone (I),
- compared to itself combined with the use of antidepressants (C),
- influence the physical and mental health of the patient (O)
- between the end of the treatment and them becoming an adult (T)?
Bhatia, S. K., & Bhatia, S. C. (2007). Childhood and adolescent depression. American family physician, 75(1), 73-80.