The Rise of Teenage Depression

Teenage depression is a serious mental health problem that is significantly rising every year.  Studies have found that, 1 out of 8 teens are affected with this disease. For many teens, this condition can interfere with stressful daily life, causing suicidal thoughts and behavior.  Teens today are faced with stressors and triggers unseen by past generations. These pressures are the leading cause to depression rate’s dramatic rise. Young people today are expected to do more than ever before.

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

What is Teenage Depression? 

Teen depression is a serious mental health issue that causes persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities.  This illness can interfere with teenager's ability to handle daily activities, such as managing time, eating, or even sleeping. Depression negatively affects the way someone thinks, feels, and acts.  It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems, such as the feeling of sadness. Without treatment depression can lead to suicide which is the 3rd leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. According to suicide.org, “every 100 minutes a teenager takes their own life.” The rise in the number of depressed young people is seen as a hard epidemic to fight.  Many experts say, “adolescents and teens today face more pressure”.  

 What is Causing a Rise in Teenage Depression? 

Therese J. Borchard, author of Beyond Blue states, “Most experts would agree with me that there is more stress today than in previous generations,” when talking about the youth of America.

Ben Choi student at Moeller High School states, “teenagers today are raised to have unrealistic expectations.” When a teenager doesn’t perform according to these expectations, stress level rises, and depression can occur. At school teens experience high levels of stress worrying about meeting academic demands and pleasing their parents. Teens spend most of their waking hours among their peers who undergo the same type of stress. Social life is time consuming and not always the easiest thing to do. Many teens have tough times finding and keeping friends that create healthy relationships. Children who struggle to maintain close relationships with other children are more susceptible to depression. Today teens are expected by authority to do more than ever before. 

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

Technology like laptops, cell phones and social media play an important role in all teen's lives in the United States today. Social media is used to communicate, socialize, and make and maintain friendships. Teens are losing face to face connection because it's easier to make statements on a screen than verbalizing.  While there are benefits to social media there are also many risks. Many young people are missing out on critical social skills development when they spend excessive time connected to a screen.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh conducted a study about the effects of social media habits on the mood of users. The study found that the more time young adults use social media, they more likely they are to be depressed. 

Spending more time on social media increases the exposure to cyber bullying. The excessive use social media fuels internet addiction, which is considered a psychiatric condition linked to depression. Senior at Moeller Hunter Corbett stated, “social media has become toxic because people use it to brag about the good in their life.”

Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all have social currency that cause instant gratification. When anyone posts something on their social media account, they always look at the amount of likes they are getting. Getting likes makes you feel good, but it doesn’t last forever. The problem is social media is a place where people want others to be jealous of their life, while they are constantly comparing their lives to those of others. 

So why are teens always on social media? Many teen users have the fear of missing out or best known as FOMO. FOMO refers to the nervous or anxious feeling a person gets when they aren't in attendance of a social event because they weren't invited or didn’t go. Teens are worried about what they see their peers doing when they are online. Social media has so many pressure and norms that teens are overwhelmed with. Teens need to learn to balance social media with real life situations and relationships. Technology has so many positive features, but many times social media can replace many natural social experiences. 

Teenage depression is a hard thing to fix, because we don’t know exactly what is causing it. It could be fewer coping and problem-solving skills, bullying, poor sleep, or a combination of other stressors. Despite the fact depression is treatable, many teenagers don’t get the help they need. According to Blue Cross Blue Shield, these quickly rising rates of depression in younger age groups can have broader implications on future health care. The adolescent's prefrontal cortex is still growing, the part of the brain that controls self-regulation. Meaning they have limited ability to exert control in their decisions.

Depression in young people is significantly rising and it is causing higher suicide rates.  Suicide.org found only 30 percent of depressed teens are being treated for it. It’s a new problem of a new generation that needs to be fought the right way. Teenage depression is a hard problem to fix, but there is still hope. There are many organizations and mental health experts trying to fight the stigma. The only cure to teenage depression is getting professional therapy and help.

 

 

Eli Wagner