A Research Paper On Adolescent Depression

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A Research Paper on Adolescent Depression

A Research Paper on Adolescent Depression


Interest in adolescent depression has increased recently (Wicks-Nelson & Israel, 1997), due in part to recent events such as high school shootings and the continual rise in the number of antidepressants prescribed to adolescents in the United States. These are just some of the reasons that clinicians and researchers have been encouraged to focus their efforts at gaining a better understanding of adolescent depression. Depression in adolescents can be quite variable and oftentimes difficult to diagnose. In addition, risk factors and developmental factors can be quite diverse. Untreated depression can lead to many serious consequences, including suicide.

Presentation of the Disorder

A concrete understanding of adolescent depression is complicated by its varied clinical presentation. As such, adolescent depression can be difficult to diagnose. For example, one symptom of depression can be a decline in academic performance, which is usually attributed to a lack of motivation and missed classes. It can be difficult to distinguish between learning problems and depression or the interaction of both factors in identifying the reasons for such a decline. Depression is a likely contributing factor, as it is one of the most common reasons for refusing to go to school (Lamberg, 2002). A decline in school performance is just one symptom frequently associated with adolescent depression. Other symptoms include a consistent change in mood, poor physical health, markedly diminished self-esteem, and unsatisfying and conflicted interpersonal relationships. Certain symptoms can mask the presentation of depression, such as social withdrawal, irritability, and oppositional-defiant behaviors. These symptoms can be overlooked, as they differ from the adult diagnosis, which focuses on feelings of sadness.

Overlap with other disorders also makes accurate diagnosis of adolescent depression difficult. Anxiety disorders (especially generalized anxiety disorders in later adolescence) have a high rate of comorbidity with adolescent depression (Kovacs, Gatsonis, Paulauskas, & Richards, 1989). Conduct disorders are also often seen as a common coexisting condition. Finally, dysthymic disorder can occur in those presenting with depression. The combination of dysthymic disorder and major depression results in what is called a double depression , which can be especially resistant to treatment interventions. Finally, an initial depressive episode can be the onset of a bipolar disorder.

Parents and others may be quick to dismiss symptoms of adolescent depression as simply the typical behaviors of a “normal teenager” in the age-appropriate search for identity. Although the adolescent may give the impression that he or she simply wants to be left alone, it is important that parents or other important figures in the child's life, such as a teacher, be watchful for symptoms such as substance abuse or indications of hopelessness and worthlessness. Social support has been found to reduce depressive symptoms in some cases (Prinstein, Boergers, & Vernberg, 2001). Having someone to talk to may reduce feelings of isolation, which are commonly associated with suicide. By increasing social support, the adolescent will hopefully be more likely to use this outlet to talk about problems, rather than internalize ...
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