Depression in adolescents: risk factors and warning signs

Depression is a fairly common psychological disorder in adolescentsAs 1 in 5 adolescents suffer from depression during this stage of their life.

Depression is not an exclusive psychological disorder of adulthood, children and adolescents also suffer from it and have symptoms different from those of adults. Depression is a mood disorder that involves many physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms.

This article will describe some of the most common symptoms that will allow us to spot depression in adolescents and some of the risk factors that will influence the development of depressive disorders in adolescents.

    Most Common Warning Signs of Depression in Adolescents

    Symptoms related to depression in adolescents are as follows.

    1. Anedonia

    This means he no longer enjoys the activities he used to enjoy with before. This symptom is very characteristic in adolescents, they lose interest and motivation to perform most activities, even to socialize with friends. This symptom can also be accompanied by apathy and dissatisfaction with most of the activities that I used to do.

    2. Somatic complaints

    These are all complaints of physical discomfort or pain that have their origin in a psychological problem. For example, they are common in adolescents, headaches, more tension in the neck or back, discomfort or abdominal pain … People close to you may think that something is wrong with you or that they are an “apology” for not having done certain activities or obligations.

    The psychologist for children and adolescents of the practice of Malaga Psychologists Málaga PsicoAbreu, Florència Stolo, says that somatization in children and adolescents is very common, because they do not yet have good strategies for emotional expression, and their emotions negative are expressed by physical or bodily means. symptoms, which result in pain or complaints.

    The psychologist argues that it is not necessary to think that adolescents make up these symptoms, but actually feel these pain or discomfort, but their cause is not a physical illness, but arises from the emotional discomfort they feel.

    3. Frequent irritability and temper tantrums

    Florencia Stolo, the child and adolescent psychologist, says A ‘typical’ depression is thought to be seen in a teenager in bed who cries all day, but this is usually not the case. The psychologist states that irritability and temper tantrums are common in depressive disorders in adolescents because, unlike adults, a system also altered in these disorders is the noradrenergic system (related to norepinephrine), apart from the serotonergic system (linked to serotonin).

    4. Susceptibility

    Susceptibility and greater sensitivity to criticism from others and their environment, inability to cope with these situations.

    5. Social isolation

    Social isolation and retirement from people close to their environment (parents, brothers and sisters, friends …). They tend to want to isolate themselves and be alone.

    6. Asthenia

    That is, a feeling of physical fatigue for a large part of the day.

    7. Feeling of sadness or discouragement

    This can cause you to want to cry frequently during the day and at night.

    8. Presence of sleep disturbances or difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual

    Difficulty sleeping or sleep disturbances include pre-sleep insomnia (difficulty falling asleep), nocturnal awakenings (waking up at night, which makes sleep poor and does not promote adequate rest), non-restful sleep (feeling of not having rested properly, or getting up tired), nightmares …

    Another possibility is that the teenager with depressive disorder will not have difficulty sleeping, but is sleeping more hours than he previously slept. Florence maintains that it is a defense mechanism that they develop, because it is their way of “numbing” their negative emotions and since they don’t know how to deal with them, they try to avoid sleeping all day, because it is the only way not to think.

    9. Changes in eating habits

    How to eat more or less and be more or less hungry.

    10. Difficulty concentrating and frequent forgetfulness

    They can be observed in everyday things such as forgetting important appointments or important dates, losing track of conversations, being away when you are with other people, having difficulty making decisions … At school this can lead to a deterioration of school results, they get lost during lessons and in the explanations of tasks, they forget the tasks …

    11. Start or increase alcohol or drug use

    The psychologist for children and adolescents at the Malaga practice says that this is a very common way of anesthetizing their own problems, as they experiment with alcohol and other drugs (especially tobacco. and marijuana), and they find in them an “anesthesia” which puts them to sleep and allows them not to “feel” negative emotions which they experience in their everyday lives.

    12. Passive Ideas of Death

    Thoughts like “I wish I was gone”, “I would like to stop living” or autolytic ideas (thoughts or desires of being physically hurt).

    13. High risk behaviors

    Sometimes adolescents with mood disorders they have high-risk behaviors like having reckless sex, shoplifting, Or drive recklessly.

    Risk factors for depression in adolescents

    The main risk factors that predispose to having depressive disorder in adolescence are:

    • History of mood disorders (Depressive disorder, dysthymia and bipolar disorder) in the most direct family.

    • Experiencing stressful events or life factors (Divorce of their parents, bullying, intimidation, sexual abuse, break-up with a partner, death of a loved one, change of class, poor school results …). In adolescents, stressful events in personal, family, social or economic life can have a major influence on the onset and development of depression. Several studies claim that the presence of depressive disorder symptoms in adolescents is related to the degree of stress experienced by stressful life events.

    • Not having a stable emotional or social support network or conformed (problems with their parents, family problems, not having friends …).

    • Have a physical illness or chronic psychological.

    • Have a learning disability.

    • Having difficulty socializing with their peers or with other people.

    • Have low self-esteem and low self-esteem.

    • Be female. Several studies show that the prevalence of depression is higher in teenage girls than in teenage boys.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Kramer, Peter D. (2006). Against depression. Barcelona: Seix Barral.
    • Jackson, Stanley W. (1986). History of melancholy and depression. Madrid: Turner.
    • Martell, C. et al. (2010). Behavioral activation for depression. The Guilford Press.
    • Schmidt PJ (2005). “Humor, Depression, and Reproductive Hormones in the Menopausal Transition.” The American Journal of Medicine.
    • Vieweg WV, Julius DA, Fernandez A, Beatty-Brooks M, Hettema JM, Pandurangi AK (2006). “Post-traumatic stress disorder: clinical features, pathophysiology and treatment”. The American Journal of Medicine.

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