It seems natural that teenagers sometimes feel unhappy. This statement is especially understandable if we take into consideration the fact that the organism of the young adult is experiencing the hormonal changes. The frequent changes of mood are typical for the adolescence. However, according to recent findings eight out of ten teenagers suffer from depression.
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Although depression is the problem that can be cured, it is worth noting that it should be diagnosed first. The teenagers are the vulnerable group as they experience a difficult transition of the maturing process. Thus, the symptoms can be hidden, and depression can be confused with a bad mood. What are the outcomes of depression? Can it spread between the adolescence? Is it contagious? These types of questions were the main concern of a number of researchers. The primary purpose of this paper is to investigate whether depression spreads over teenagers.
To get deeper involved in the issue, the reasons for depression in adolescence should be identified. As a matter of fact, there are many reasons why a teenager can feel unhappy. First and foremost, a bad grade can influence the adolescence significantly. A teenager can feel worthless. School performance, social status among peers, sexual orientation, relationships within the family, these are the factors that have a huge impact on the mental state of a teenager. However, it should be noted that if neither friends nor relatives nor even hobbies can help a teenager to get rid of feelings of depression, regardless of its causes, there is a huge possibility that this adolescence has depression.
It is of paramount importance to know the symptoms of depression in order to be able to deal with it. In the majority of cases, the symptoms of depression in teenagers manifest in mood and behavior changes. Sick children lose motivation in life and become withdrawn; coming home from school they close their room and can sit alone for hours (Mufson 81). Depressed children usually experience drowsiness, appetite swings, and even criminal behavior, such as petty theft in stores or alcohol and drug intoxication. Below are the main symptoms of the adolescent depression:
- Persistent pain, such as headaches, stomach pain, back pain, and fatigue;
- It is difficult for a teenager to focus and concentrate;
- It is complicated for a teen to make own decisions and choices;
- The irresponsible behavior is very common. It is usually reflected in forgetting the duties; the teenager is late for school or even skips it;
- Loss of appetite or over-eating is another symptom, which leads to significant weight loss or overweight. Thus, depression can consequently lead to a number of additional health-related issues;
- Obsession with thoughts of death;
- Rebellious behavior;
- The feeling of sadness, anxiety, or hopelessness;
- Insomnia at night and increased drowsiness during the day;
- The sudden decline in school performance;
- The use of alcohol, drugs, and casual sexual relationships;
- Avoiding friends (Mejia 19).
The above states symptoms are essential to be taken into consideration as depression can lead to a number of problems or even suicide. In order to eliminate severe consequences, the families should pay enough attention to their children. The experts in the field of depression state that it can be hereditary. In case somebody in the family experienced depression aged 15 to 30, there are a lot of chances that a child will face depression as well (Mufson 94).
It should be highlighted that in spite of the fact the technological progress stimulated rapid development and improvement of the medicine, it is essential to make an accent that there are no specific medical tests, with the help of which one could say that the adolescent has depression. A psychiatrist diagnoses the teenager with depression, referring to the results of interviews and psychological tests with the teen, his family, teachers, and friends.
The stage of the disease and the risk of suicide are commonly determined on the basis of a detailed assessment of these interviews. According to the information obtained through interviews and psychological tests, the professional offers appropriate methods of treatment. The psychiatrist will also consider other mental disorders, such as anxiety, schizophrenia or abusive behavior. The expert will also examine in details whether the child is capable of murder or suicide.
It seems important to empathize that the suicidal behavior can be noticed, and instant reaction will help a teenager and possibly can save his or her life. Suicidal behavior among teenagers with depression is a crucial problem. According to the statistics, the teenage suicide is the primary reason for a death of adolescents in the United States. Recent findings revealed an impressive statistics; over 500,000 of teenagers had an attempt to commit a suicide and almost 5,000 of individuals succeeded in their attempt (Elliott 52).
What are the reasons the youth are ready to end their life? Problems in the family, loss of a loved one, failure at school, or persistent failure in personal relationships, every factor from the stated above can because negative thoughts, lead to depression, and result in death. For a teenager, these problems seem insurmountable, and the pain they cause is believed to be intolerable. Suicide can be considered as an act of desperation, and the main reason for it lies in adolescent depression. A number of lives could be saved if the symptoms of depression were noticed. A teenager cannot get rid of depression on his own, and thus, needs help and support.
With the consideration of the statistics that is presented above, a question arises whether depression is contagious and is there a threat that one depressed teenager can stimulate the development of depression in the group? Hearing the word depression, the majority of people think of neurotic reaction, which developed as a reaction to stress. Depression is a disease, and the person cannot deal with it on his own, and thus, in order to cure it, the help of the professional is essential. Fortunately, depression is not a common phenomenon as the majority of people tend to confuse depression with fatigue, stress, and temporary emotional discomfort. Depressive disorders often occur because of stress.
Every person reacts to situations differently, depending on the type of nervous system, temperament, and the perception of the world. Perhaps a lot of people have already noticed that communicating with the pessimistic person or the one in a bad mood it is easy to succumb to melancholy and experience almost the same feelings that the partner does (Jones par. 5). This fact is commonly examined in psychology as people tend to adjust to other people and experience close emotional connection. However, despite the fact that people can be influenced by the mood of the communicator, it is worth highlighting that depression cannot be acquired from the communication with a depressed person. Nevertheless, it can lead to pessimistic thoughts, bad mood; however, it is not enough for the depression to develop.
The researchers of the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom decided to investigate the relation between the spread of depression and happiness among the teenagers in the United States. The experts analyzed the mood of students that study in over than 2,000 different schools across the United States. The conclusion that was drawn by the researchers positively shocked the public as the scientists proved that depression is not contagious, whereas happiness is. Frances Griffiths, the head of Warwick Medical School, states that:
Depression is a major public health concern worldwide. But the good news is we’ve found that a healthy mood amongst friends is linked with a significantly reduced risk of developing, and increased chance of recovering from, depression (Dockrill par. 1).
The contagion model helped the researchers to make appropriate conclusions. The students were classified into two groups, namely the ones that have symptoms of depression, and the ones who do not. The outcome of the experiment is significant for the development of new methods that will combat the depression of adolescents. Happy and healthy friends will not only eliminate the risks of depression, however, will also contribute to the recovery process in case a teen experienced depression.
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Edward Hill, the scientist that investigated the relationships between depression and happiness, notes that “our results suggest that promotion of any friendship between adolescents can reduce depression since having depressed friends does not put them at risk, but having healthy friends is both protective and curative” (Dockrill par. 4). As a result, friendship is significant not only for entertainment and support; it can also cure (Feller par. 5). Teenagers are highly dependent on friends and problems with peers can be felt like a personal tragedy. Deep listening and communication with a teen can positively influence his self-esteem and eliminate the risk of depression as teenagers are vulnerable in terms of public opinion (Jones par. 3).
In conclusion, it is worth highlighting that recent researches proved that depression cannot be transferred to a friend during communication. Happiness is the guiding power that can influence everyone. This outcome of the research conducted by a group of scientists from the United Kingdom makes a valuable contribution to the development of treatment for the depression. Depression of teenagers is a global problem that the society should deal with.
Stress and the feelings of worthlessness may consequently lead to depression and result in suicide. In order to eliminate the lethal outcomes, families and teachers should pay attention to the teenagers and be ready to react appropriately in case the symptoms are noticed. As a matter of fact, advertence can save lives of thousands of teenagers who have suicidal thoughts. The problems that the adolescents experience seems unsolved and can be perceived as tragedy, however, it is not so. The hormonal changes impact the mood and behavior of a teen, and thus, they need help and support to overcome difficulties. Human life is the biggest value, and the society should protect the generation of teenagers from the mistakes that can result in a lethal outcome.
Dockrill, Peter. “Study Finds Happiness, Not Depression, Spreads among Teens.” Science Alert.
Elliott, Gary. Adolescent Depression. Definition, Causes, Treatments. Honolulu: Atlantic International U, 2010. Print.
Feller, Stephen. “Study: Depression Not Contagious, but Happiness Spreads among Friends.” UPI. 2015.
Jones, Nicola. “Happiness Spreads but Depression Doesn’t.” Warwick. n. d.
Mejia, Melissa. “What Drives A Teenager to Depression? An Insider’s Sociological Look into Its Causes.” Human Architecture 9.2 (2011): 19-25. Web. 26 Apr. 2016.
Mufson, Laura. Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents. New York: Guilford Publications, 2011. Print.