Argumentative Essay on Adolescent Depression

This essay has a total of 1094 words and 4 pages.

Adolescent Depression

Depression is a disease that afflicts the human psyche in such a way that the afflicted
tends to act and react abnormally toward others and themselves. Therefore it comes to no
surprise to discover that adolescent depression is strongly linked to teen suicide.
Adolescent suicide is now responsible for more deaths in youths aged 15 to 19 than
cardiovascular disease or cancer (Blackman, 1995). Despite this increased suicide rate,
depression in this age group is greatly underdiagnosed and leads to serious difficulties
in school, work and personal adjustment, which may often continue into adulthood. Brown
(1996) has said the reason why depression is often over looked in children and adolescents
is because "children are not always able to express how they feel." Sometimes the symptoms
of mood disorders take on different forms in children than in adults. Adolescence is a
time of emotional turmoil, mood swings, gloomy thoughts, and heightened sensitivity. It is
a time of rebellion and experimentation. Blackman (1996) observed that the "challenge is
to identify depressive symptomatology which may be superimposed on the backdrop of a more
transient, but expected, developmental storm." Therefore, diagnosis should not lay only in
the physician's hands but be associated with parents, teachers and anyone who interacts
with the patient on a daily basis. Unlike adult depression, symptoms of youth depression
are often masked. Instead of expressing sadness, teenagers may express boredom and
irritability, or may choose to engage in risky behaviors (Oster & Montgomery, 1996). Mood
disorders are often accompanied by other psychological problems such as anxiety (Oster &
Montgomery, 1996), eating disorders (Lasko et al., 1996), hyperactivity (Blackman, 1995),
substance abuse (Blackman, 1995; Brown, 1996; Lasko et al., 1996) and suicide (Blackman,
1995; Brown, 1996; Lasko et al., 1996; Oster & Montgomery, 1996) all of which can hide
depressive symptoms.The signs of clinical depression include marked changes in mood and
associated behaviors that range from sadness, withdrawal, and decreased energy to intense
feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts. Depression is often described as "an
exaggeration of the duration and intensity of normal mood changes" (Brown 1996). Key
indicators of adolescent depression include a drastic change in eating and sleeping
patterns, significant loss of interest in previous activity interests (Blackman, 1995;
Oster & Montgomery, 1996), constant boredom (Blackman, 1995), disruptive behavior, peer
problems, increased irritability and aggression (Brown, 1996). Blackman (1995) proposed
that "formal psychologic testing may be helpful in complicated presentations that do not
lend themselves easily to diagnosis." For many teens, symptoms of depression are directly
related to low self -esteem stemming from increased emphasis on peer popularity. For other
teens, depression arises from poor family relations, which could include decreased family
support and perceived rejection by parents (Lasko et al., 1996). Oster & Montgomery (1996)
stated that "when parents are struggling over marital or career problems, or are ill
themselves, teens may feel the tension and try to distract their parents." This
"distraction" could include increased disruptive behavior, self-inflicted isolation and
even verbal threats of suicide. So how can the physician determine when a patient should
be diagnosed as depressed or suicidal? Brown (1996) suggested the best way to diagnose is
to "screen out the vulnerable groups of children and adolescents for the risk factors of
suicide and then refer them for treatment." Some of these "risk factors" include verbal
signs of suicide within the last three months, prior attempts at suicide, indication of
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