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8 Life Events that Provoke Adolescent Depression


Author: Shernide Delva

Growing up as an adolescent can be full of tremendous turbulence and change. Furthermore, from as early as 10 years old to as late as 26 years old, there are complex changes that happen biologically, emotionally, psychologically, cognitively and interpersonally. Unfortunately, during out early stages of life, others around us may perceive our major depressive episodes as a normal part of growing up or a rite of passage in our teenage years.

However, recent research reveals that it is important that parents and those around us to take these changes in our mental health seriously. Although it is not uncommon for teenagers to experience quick shifts in mood and temper, it is a mistake for teachers, parents of mental health professions to assume that a Major Depressive Episode is “normal.”

It has been estimated that 8 percent of teens suffer from depression at any one year period and close to 20 percent of teens experience a depressive episode before reaching adulthood. These numbers increase significantly for teens that have a family history of depression, addiction or suicide. Unfortunately, many teens do not get the level of care they need because their depression is disregarded and theorized to be “adolescent moodiness” or a “typical developmental phase.”

In actuality, there are many reasons for depressive episodes often mediated by biology and brain chemistry. When these symptoms are not healed or handled through intervention, it can cause harm or even lead into addictive behaviors. An article even mentioned several life events that if left untreated, can evoke a depressive episode.

8 Life Events That Can Set the Wheels of Depression in Motion

  1. Changes in Body Appearance: The body goes through many sudden changes in adolescence. Often, this can leave teenagers feeling ashamed or disempowered. Adolescent is a vulnerable time for body image issues and eating disorders. Not addressing these changes can result in depression.
  2. Peer group rejection: During this time, it is tremendously important for teenagers to feel as though they fit in. If they feel rejected by their peers, it can lead to feelings of depression. Adolescents may try unhealthy methods of fitting in such as experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
  3. Self-Identity Crisis: Addressing self-identity is important because often adolescents find it difficult to find who they are and feel authentic. They may struggle with their sexuality or personality traits.
  4. Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying has become incredibly common with the recent influx of social media platforms. Teens who suffer from shaming on social media often have a lower self-esteem and struggle with their confidence.
  5. Drug Experimentation: During this time, drug experimentation becomes increasingly common. Traumatic events such as arrests, overdoses, car accidents or date rape can result in depressive symptoms. It is important to monitor behaviors when events like this occur.
  6. Family History: Any history of parental addiction, depression, anxiety or medical illness increases the risk of depressive symptoms in adolescence. If you know of a family history of mental illness, it is especially important to monitor adolescent behaviors.
  7. Domestic Violence: Any form of domestic violence in or outside of the home or dysfunctional family dynamics can lead to trauma, addiction and/or mental illness. Seeking therapy and addressing the psychological impact of these life events are crucial.
  8. Experiencing Abuse: Any form of sexual, physical, emotional, psychological or verbal abuse and neglect increases the vulnerability to depression. It is important to pay attention to signs of depression and anxiety if a history of abuse is present

There are a plethora of life events that can set the wheels of depression in motion. Therefore, it is important for parents, teachers and counselors to take the onset of depression in adolescence seriously. Feelings of sadness and depression symptoms should not be treated as a phase as they can lead into long term consequences.

If you find that you or someone you know has suffered life events that could be resulting in psychological changes, it is important to get professional help to overcome those feelings before they become worse.

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