Depression is a persistent and sustained sad feeling that can become disabling and affect someone’s quality of life. It is a mental ailment that affects daily life and impairs feelings, thoughts, and actions. Worst of all, the feelings of negativity can make someone feel hopeless to the point of entertaining thoughts of suicide.
Depression is brought on by a combination of environmental, biochemical, psychological, and genetic factors. The disease can be triggered by stressful life situations like difficulty in school, parents getting a divorce, breaking up with a significant other, or mourning the death of a loved one. Long-term illness and drug or alcohol abuse can also lead to depression. In addition, people with a family history of depression may be predisposed to the disease.
The brain plays an important role in depression. Neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, in the brain help cells communicate with each other. When these neurotransmitters are out of balance, it creates communication problems between cells. This imbalance can lead to depression.
Depression in Young People
Depression spares no age group, and young people are as vulnerable as anyone else. There can be various causes for youth depression. Some may have a family history of depression or suicide. Children and teens that come from a single parent or unstable household are more likely to be depressed. Insufficient parent attention or neglect at home can also lead to depression.
Children who deal with lots of stress, lack nutrition, and do not getting enough sleep can be persistently sad. Any physical, emotional, or sexual abuse can also cause mental trauma and lead to depression.
Diagnosing depression in children and teens can be difficult because many of the symptoms resemble the emotional swings of pre-adolescence and puberty. However, the emotions experienced by someone with depression are much more extreme.
A depressed child may feel sad, hopeless, and uninterested in anything. They may get irrigated, angry, agitated, restless, or hostile over petty things. Depressed children are more vulnerable emotionally, and they may cry or become tearful at events that other find trivial. They may withdraw from friends, family, and society; lose interest in play, work, study, or anything in life; change eating habits; suffer from aches and pains; and miss school frequently.
Some may eat less and lose weight, while others may eat frequently and gain weight. They may also have a disturbed sleep or oversleep. They can become difficult to talk to and interact with. Their learning abilities and concentration are also adversely affected, and they may lack enthusiasm, motivation, and perform worse in school.
As a result, these children may feel worthless and inflict self-harm, like repeatedly cutting themselves. Some may even think about or attempt suicide.
Any child with depression needs help and support from his or her parents. Talk to the child and try to relate to his or her feelings. Spending time with the child and getting involved in activities the child enjoys can help. Physical activity should be encouraged, because it has been shown to improve self-esteem, trigger the release of endorphins, and reduce stress. In younger children, a story before bedtime also helps to connect with the child.
By spending time with a depressed child it is also easier to spot a change in mood of notice indications that they are trying to harm themselves by making cuts on their body or considering suicide.
Taking the child to a therapist to begin a regimen of psychotherapy can also help. There are two types of psychotherapy (which is also known as “talk therapy”). Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches depressed children how to think positively. Interpersonal therapy helps them manage the social and personal relationships that may be causing or contributing to their depression.
Antidepressants are medicines used to treat depression and other mood disorders, like anxiety and phobia. They can improve a person’s overall disposition, sleep, concentration, and appetite. They can also alleviate obsessive behavior and help to overcome low self-esteem.
There are several types of antidepressants, grouped into five primary classifications:
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): These include amitriptyline, imipramine, and nortriptyline. These help balance chemicals that contribute to irritability and anger.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) like phenelzine and tranylcypromine. These improve mood by blocking monoamine oxidase (MAO), an enzyme that prompts depression.
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) like venlafaxine and duloxetine. These help to relay signals in the brain, controlling such functions as mood and sexual activity.
Noradrenaline and Specific Serotonin Antidepressants (NaSSAs) like mirtazapine and mianserin. These increase body functions like heart rate and blood pressure, and enable someone to have a better response to stressful situations.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) like fluoxetine, citalopram, and paroxetine. These are used to treat depression in its early stages.
There are also some other medicines like bupropion, which do not fall in any of these classes. It is used to treat seasonal onsets of depression.
Doctors may change prescriptions from one to another before finding the medication that best treats the particular patient.
The most serious side effect of antidepressants in teenagers is an increased risk of suicidal tendencies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has placed mandatory warning label on all antidepressants. This warning is called a “black box” label and it clearly specifies the risk of suicide in children, adolescents, and young adults up to the age of 24.
The risk is greatest in the initial two months of therapy. It is higher in a child who has previously attempted to do any harm to himself or herself or if anybody in the family has a history of attempted suicide. A number of other side effects like a change in sleep patterns and behavior can also be caused by antidepressants.
If used in children and teens, antidepressant therapy should be monitored and reviewed at regular intervals. An unusual change in behavior, worsening of any symptom, or the appearance of a new symptom is a sign to seek medical help immediately.
Depression in children can be disabling, debilitating, and even devastating. It is vital for parents offer support to the child and be an approachable resource in any situation. With the guidance of parents, it is possible for the child to live a healthy and productive life.