Teen Depression: Causes and Prevention

Large amounts of homework or overdue assignments can be overwhelming. School can be very stressful because you may feel rejected by peers or criticized and embarrassed by teachers. Or you may feel the pressure of constantly feeling the need to prove yourself as part of the “in-crowd.” Moving to a new school and having to make new friends is never easy. These are real causes of stress that lead to adolescent depression, promiscuity, and teen alcohol abuse.

Get help early! Getting help when you need it reduces the risk of longer-term problems.

In the next 24 hours . . .

  • 1,439 teens will attempt suicide.
  • 2,795 teenage girls will become pregnant.
  • 3,506 teens will run away (based on national averages).
  • 15,006 teens will use drugs for the first time.

A counselor can help your family begin to see how to change a difficult situation that is hurting you.

“No one understands me.”

Losing hope, feeling alone, believing that something is very wrong with you, your family or your life is a heavy burden to bear. Seeking professional help is important because depression hardly ever goes away on its own. We know from teen suicide statistics that untreated depression often leads to suicide.

“I’m going to put an end to this.”

Experts who analyze teen suicide statistics say that any teen who has been depressed for six months or more is in danger of developing worse problems and should get help immediately. According to teen suicide statistics, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds. The number of attempted suicides is much higher.

Don’t drown your troubles

It might be tempting to turn to drugs or alcohol to escape your feelings, but doing so will only make things worse. According to research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, teen alcohol abuse is a big problem: more than three million American teens are alcoholics. The top three causes of death for 15 to 24 year olds are automobile accidents, homicide, and suicide—alcohol is a leading factor in all three.

Ask family and friends for help

No one can say for sure what might prevent depression from developing, but studies have shown that young people who cope well under stress are also able to form strong relationships and a sense of identity that comes from spending time with people who care about them.

Talk, talk, talk

Keep the lines of communication open. Talk to a good friend, a family member (your parent or guardian, if you can), a trusted member of your clergy, your friends’ parents, your coach, or a school counselor. Look for people you can trust, and let them into your life. Finding a safe way to discuss your feelings will help you make sense of them and hopefully help you find solutions to your problems.

Get the facts

Prevention begins with understanding the problem and its potential for developing. A school counselor is often a very helpful resource for information on adolescent depression.

See a counselor

Talking to a counselor, one-on-one and in family sessions, can be helpful to many teenagers and their families. When emotions and sad feelings are not openly discussed they can deepen into depression. A counselor can help your family begin to see how to change a difficult situation that is hurting you.

A Word to Parents

If you notice changes in your teen’s behavior, take a deep breath and try not to over-react. Becoming overprotective can make things worse. Punishing teens who are depressed can only hurt them more. Catch them doing the right thing, no matter how small, and praise them for it.

Criticism destroys self esteem; praise rebuilds it. Be patient, and seek professional help.

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