Young people can feel sad and worried about life events such as exams, changing schools or moving house, fights with friends or family. If the feelings of sadness affect everyday life, and lasts for weeks or months, the young person may have depression.
In young people. symptoms of depression include feeling grumpy, having feeling worthless or guilty, trouble sleeping, eating less or more than usual and losing or gaining weight. Life situations can contribute to depression in young people but sometimes there seems to be no reason.
If a young person has felt miserable most of the time and finds it difficult to get motivated, they may have depression (also known as major depressive disorder), a serious illness that can affect adolescents and young people. Depression should be taken seriously, because suicide is a common cause of death in young people.
Symptoms of depression in young people
Young people, like everyone, can have occasional mood swings, feel irritable sometimes and be particularly sensitive to criticism and rejection. But if these moods have lasted for two weeks or more, the young person could have depression.
Symptoms that may indicate depression include:
- feeling grumpy or irritable
- feeling guilty or worthless most of the time
- having thoughts of suicide or death
- having trouble sleeping – either staying asleep or falling asleep
- feeling everything is too hard, lack of motivation and feeling tired
- gaining or losing weight, eating too much or losing interest in food
- using alcohol, cigarettes or illegal drugs.
Sometimes there are no obvious symptoms of depression, but parents may notice behavioural changes in young people that suggest depression and should not be ignored. These include:
- social withdrawal
- lower marks at school
- risk-taking behaviour
- use of drugs and alcohol.
Causes of depression in young people
Depression is a mental illness, and it is one of the most common health problems for young people in United States, so it is important that depression is diagnosed and treated early.
Many different factors and life circumstances can contribute to depression and anxiety in young people. These can include:
- experiencing a recent death, relationship break-up, neglect or abuse
- fights with friends or family
- starting secondary school or changing school
- being bullied
- biological factors like chemical imbalances or genetic factors.
Many people find it hard to ask for professional help and sometimes young people do not want to go to a healthcare professional. If this is the case, you could let them know that depression is common and that you are concerned.
Help them to be safe and remove dangerous items, such as guns, medication or other dangerous items, and encourage them to see a Family Kickstart Georgia (FKSG) healthcare professional. In case of an emergency, call FKSG and ask for help.