Is it Just a Phase? Understanding if Your Teen is Depressed

Is it Just a Phase? Or Something More? Understanding Depression in Teens

All teenagers get moody and anxious as they go through adolescence, right? Well, while it may be a cliché to think of teens as sad and moody, there may be something making many teen’s lives harder than just changing bodies.

A study on depression in adolescents and young adults, published in the journal Pediatrics, found a startling increase in the amount of young people struggling with depression.

It was found that the number of teens who reported an MDE (Major Depressive Episode) rose from 8.7% in 2005 to a staggering 11.5% in 2014, a 37% increase.

However, after analyzing data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, they found no evidence of a corresponding increase in mental health treatment for adolescents. This means that there are potentially hundreds of thousands of young adults struggling every day in a battle with depression in addition to the more than 3 million adolescents between 12-17 who reported an MDE last year.

This is a very real problem, but there are also very real solutions.

If you or someone you love have been feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or angry, even at little things for more than just a couple bad days, there may be steps you can take to help.

Here are some other signs to consider; a depressed person might:

  • Not care about things or activities you used to enjoy.
  • Have weight loss when you are not dieting or weight gain from eating too much.
  • Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or sleep much more than usual.
  • Move or talk more slowly.
  • Feel restless or have trouble sitting still.
  • Feel very tired or like you have no energy.
  • Feel worthless or very guilty.
  • Have trouble concentrating, remembering information, or making decisions.
  • Think about dying or suicide or try suicide.

Everyone experiences depression a little differently, so there is not a definitive list of symptoms. However, the best thing you can do is be aware, be active, and be informed about the severity and nature of depression.

Depression is not the results of a character flaw or personal weakness. If you or a loved one is struggling, contact Amen Clinics today or call (888) 288-9834.

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  1. Bob Prichard says:

    We believe this 37% increase in depression may be a second-generation effect of school backpacks.

    Larger backpacks were introduced in the mid-90’s to accommodate the larger, heavier load of books and supplies that schools required students to carry each day. School students in 2014 were born to mothers who carried those heavier backpacks, as well as carrying them themselves from 1st grade on.

    Researchers have found that backpacks weighing as little as 5% of body weight measurably reduce vital capacity and that the reduction rises to 40% as the weight is increased. Researchers in Texas found that students were actually carrying 8-37% of their body weight to school every day.

    These heavier backpacks overuse young muscles, creating chronic tightness in the expansion of the stomach and chest that does not go away once the backpack is taken off. We know this because young competitive swimmers who entered our swim camps in 2000 arrived with just 1-2″ of chest expansion, as opposed to the 2-3″ before. Keep in mind that these kids were swimming 5-10,000 yards a day, but all that exercise was not enough to overcome the restrictions created by their school backpacks.

    How do we know that backpacks were responsible for their reduction in oxygen intake? They told us. As we released to tension and microfibers that were restricting their chest expansion, they recalled carrying a heavy backpack to school every day. Not only did their swim times drop up to 17%, but their parents reported that their grades improved up to a full letter grade.

    Psychologists who tested a group of ten of our runners found stunning reductions in abasement, sympathy-seeking, and deference, with equally remarkable increases in self-confidence, self-esteem, sociability, achievement, perseverance and dominance. The former are all associated with depression; the latter are just the opposite of depression.

    But what about the second-generation effect? Students today were born to mothers who carried heavy backpacks. This means that during pregnancy their babies were receiving less than optimum oxygen. Researchers studying babies of mothers with low oxygen found a reduction in the GABA neurotransmitter. GABA is the calming neurotransmitter. So you have a group of babies with low GABA who are then forced to carry heavy loads of books to school starting in first grade. Little wonder they are depressed. They have to struggle more in school to maintain their grades, they don’t have as much energy because their oxygen intake is low, and they constantly have to contend with low self-confidence and self-esteem. Plus their low GABA levels prevent them from self-calming.


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