Causes and therapies for growing teenage depression

‘Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it’ – Plato

According to WHO (World Health Organization), 322 million people, or about 4.4% of the global population, were suffering from depression in 2015. The figure was higher amongst women (5.1%) than men (3.6%).

A news report published in The Express Tribune claims that depression affects 44% of the entire population in Pakistan. Its prevalence is higher in women (57.5%) than in men (25%). In Pakistan, 50 million people are suffering from common mental disorders, the report says.

Among young adults, depression is one of the most commonly reported conditions. Because many young people may not know what depression is or if they have symptoms of the disorder, education can be very beneficial for them. The problem is mostly for teenagers who are struggling with mild depression.  So, the question is: what are major causes of depression in teens?

College students tend to have higher incidence rates of anxiety and depression, primarily due to the rigorous lifestyle they lead. Due to managing a number of things all at once, like going to class, taking tests, doing homework, having a job and having an inconsistent sleep schedule, many college students may have high levels of anxiety and depression. Even though teenagers may say they want to be left alone and seem to dread spending time with their parents, they still crave attention and affection from their parents.

“Loneliness creates an emotional vacuum that is filled by an intense peer culture, a critical buffer against kids’ fear of isolation,” according to a Harvard News Letter. Depression resulting from death or divorce of a parent, the inability to live up to the high expectations of a parent, not being able to conform to unattainable morals or ideals, lack of emotional bonds due to rejection or neglect, receiving too much criticism and/or punishment, and sexual or physical abuse, make it difficult for adolescents to regulate their stress levels.

Income becomes a factor for depression when the individual struggles to support himself/herself, and if there are dependents, it makes it even more difficult. Living in an environment where street violence is an everyday occurrence may increase the chances a teen becoming fearful and developing anxiety or depression. Loss of job and income may also contribute to depression within the family, especially if they are homeless and hungry. Without medical insurance, families may recognize signs of depression, but may not know where to turn for financial help or medical advice. Majority of the time, many young adults may not have the resources necessary to cope with the stress that poverty may bring, and depression can be a likely outcome.

Teenage isolation was also found to be a major contributing condition that may lead to mild depression. Some teens are isolated at school through exclusion by peer groups. Another type of isolation teens experience is from their parents, as some spend much time alone due to a divorce or separation of parents or because parents may work multiple jobs and leave the teens alone and unsupervised. Isolation may have a negative effect on individuals who long for validation, attention and companionship thus creating sadness,
loneliness or depression.

Exercising to cope with mild depression is effective for many teens who are seeking options other than or in partnership with medication. Teens should consult a physician before starting an exercise program and should continue to follow doctor’s orders regarding any medication. Starting gradually and charting small successes may help teens have yet another strategy to work through early stages of mild depression symptoms.

Involving the whole family in therapy can create a better understanding of the condition and improve communication, understanding and compassion among members. Participation in therapy could help the individual recognize and change negative thoughts, determine positive ways to problem-solve, and acquire
appropriate social and interpersonal skills.

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