Let Us Talk About ... Depression in Adolescents

Adolescents, though may not demonstrate, are sensitive to stress, for instance, environmental stress and physical stress. When the family is going through issues, relationship rupture, self esteem issues, peer issues, bereavement and loss etc, children tend to pick up the stress yet some put on a brave face so as not to cause more stress for their care givers. If this is not addressed, it could trigger depression.


Depression could be down to


- genetic causes (predisposition to depression),

- biological - physical changes in the body

- psycho-social causes - bullying, manipulation, financial issues etc


Symptoms can be


- persistent impairment: when symptoms are everyday for at least two weeks

- severity impairment: when the sufferer is immobilised by the symptoms

- functional impairment: when the sufferer is not able to carry on with day to day functions/routines


For instance:

- tummy aches

- loss of interest in most social activities

- unmotivated

- clinging

- irritability

- sadness

- inability to regulate affect e.g. irrational thoughts

- sleep issues

- detachment

- possible self sabotage e.g. self medication, self harm

- food issues

- anxiety

- self esteem issues



Unhelpful things to say


- you are being too sensitive

- this is just a phase

- get a grip

- you are over reacting

- what now?

- I know how you feel...



Some Treatments


It is important to treat depression to reduce the rate of relapse throughout adolescence and in adulthood. It might help to identify stressors so that treatment is more effective.


- biological treatments - medication

- psychological treatments - individual/group/family therapy

- cultural/social treatments - school/community/family/ friends intervening


Do you feel your child needs help? contact us for a brief chat about your child's needs www.marilynallen.co.uk


Photo Credit: Kings College/Campfire Convention



Mufson l. & K. Pollak Dorta D. Moreau, M.M. Weissman 2011 Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents, 2nd Edn Guilford PressToner J.B & C.A.B. Freeland 2006 Depression, A Teen's Guide To Survive and Thrive. Magination Press

Treisman K. 2006 Working with Relational and Developmental Trauma in Children and Adolescents. Routledge

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