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2004 Second Web Paper
Depression wreaks havoc on nearly one in ten people in the United States (1). While it is not a discriminatory disease, affecting all races, ages, and both genders, it is becoming a more common diagnosis among children and teenagers. Despite the barriers, eighty to ninety percent of medically treated patients improve (1). Before treatment though, depression can cause feelings like being "tired, listless, hopeless, helpless, and generally overwhelmed by life. Simple pleasures are no longer enjoyed, and their world can appear dark and uncontrollable" (1). These symptoms can be especially devastating to a teenager.
Depression is diagnosed with a person experiences a number of symptoms. First the person needs to always be sad or anxious for at least two weeks. Secondly, the person needs to have one of the following five symptoms: appetite changes (not because of a diet), insomnia or oversleeping, fatigue and energy loss, restlessness, guilty or worthless feelings, concentration and thinking difficulty, or thoughts of death and suicide (1). While there may seem like a lot of symptoms, each one is important in the implications it has on the victim's life.
Depression can be caused by a number of things including biochemistry, genetics, personality, and the environment. Each of these, or a combination, can form a dark cloud over a person. Biochemistry is related because "deficiencies in two chemicals in the brain, serotonin and norepinephrine, are thought to be responsible for certain symptoms of depression, including anxiety, irritability, and fatigue" (1). Genetics also runs in certain families, which leads scientists to believe that there is a genetic twist that encourages depression. For example, in my family, seven out of twelve people within my father's brothers, sisters, their children, and his parents have been depressed at one point or another in their lives. There is a definite genetic link. A person's character can also lead to depression. People who normally have low self-esteem or are pessimistic are more likely to become depressed than those with great self-esteem who look at the world optimistically. Lastly, the environment can lead to depression. "Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse, or poverty may make people who are already susceptible to depression all the more vulnerable to the illness" (1). A stressful environment encourages a person to downward spiral. At http://www.teachhealth.com/#stressscale a person can take a stress test to see what his level of stress is.
While all sorts of people suffer from depression, it can be exceptionally difficult for teenagers. Teenagers have all factors, biochemical, genetic, personality, and the environment, in depression's favor, especially the last two. Teenagers are a group of people who already have horrible self-esteem. Out of all age groups, teenagers statistically have the lowest self-esteem as a group. Puberty encourages the most popular of adolescents to become shy and nervous. "The vast hormonal changes of puberty are severe stressors. A person's body actually changes shape, sexual organs begin to function, new hormones are released in large quantities. Puberty, as we all know, is very stressful," states the Health Education website (2). Girls begin to grow body parts they are unaccustomed to and feel they must hide while boys begin to get deeper voices and then become hairier. Everyone gets acne and a lot of people get braces. Most teenagers do not know how to deal with the raging hormones and thus become shyer about themselves. The middle or high school environment does not help. Cliques form and exclude people. If a girl does not wear the right outfit, she can be the outcast for the rest of the year or if a boy cannot catch the Frisbee, he can be "out". Socially, in middle and high school, people can be brutal. Teenagers may be forced into substance abuse, which becomes more accessible. All these factors can lead into depression.
Teenagers may show specific warning signs that others should notice for depression. They may have scholarly problems because of skipping classes, poor concentration, lack of interest, or low energy. This can even lead to teens dropping out. The low grades that are achieved add to the self-criticism and then encourage low self-esteem. This cannot only cause anger, depression, or indifference, but a change of social scenes into one that encourages drugs and alcohol. Depression should also be looked for with teenagers who have eating disorders, extreme feelings of ugliness, and in those who cut themselves (3).
Once someone is depressed, it is extremely difficult to break out. As with all illnesses, the farther along it is, the harder it is to cure. While there are things that a person can do for herself, such as exercise or relaxing, if it is clinical depression, the cure will probably take more. There are support groups such as the National Foundation for Depressive Illnesses, Inc. and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (4). While these support groups are beneficial, most people will probably need the guide of a psychiatrist, who will also do the diagnostic evaluation. If the doctor feels that psychotherapy will not be the most effective cure, she can also prescribe antidepressants. Antidepressants, which usually take about three to six weeks for full effect, help correct chemical imbalances in the brain (1).
The psychiatrist will also encourage "talk therapy." Because of this, it is important for a patient to choose a doctor he or she is comfortable with. One thing to look at is how much the doctor includes the patient in making decisions. The UK Depression Alliance website encourages asking, "How do you go about deciding which treatment is right for me?" (4). This helps enable a patient to find a comfortable doctor. There are specific doctors for adolescents with depression. These are exceptionally helpful as "grown up" doctors might forget about the extremely tough time that teenagers go through.
Depression is a life-altering illness that not only affects the patient but her friends and family. If not treated, it will cause problems throughout life until something like suicide. While depression is noticed in adults, it has also become a distinct problem in children and teenagers. While in some communities, especially middle to upper-class suburbia, depression in adolescents is being diagnosed and treated, it is being neglected in other areas. Teenagers are just as important to have depression treated, especially as they are "the future of America."
1.) 1)American Psychiatric Assocation, Founded in 1844
2.) 2)Health Education: Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Drug Use , For Classes
3.) 3) Kids' Health , Depression
4.) 4) Depression Alliance , UK Alliance