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Depression in Children & Teens



Depression in Children & Teens
Bushra Qureishi, MD

Depression in children and teens isn’t just bad moods — it’s a serious mental health issue that needs to be addressed. If left untreated, it can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, low self-esteem, eating disorders, self-mutilation, pregnancy , low school performance and violence and even suicide.

According to the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), 11% of all adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18, and girls are more likely than boys to experience depression.

Effectsof Teen Depression

The negative effects of teenage depression are far reaching. Many rebellious and unhealthy behaviors in teenagers are actually signs of depression such as:

  • Problems at school. Depression can cause low energy and concentration difficulties. At school, this may lead to truancy or a drop in grades.
  • Running away. Many depressed teens run away from home or talk about running away. Such attempts are usually a cry for help.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse. 30% of teens with depression also develop a substance abuse problem. Teens may use drugs and alcohol in an attempt to “self-medicate” their depression. Unfortunately, substance abuse only makes things worse. Low self-esteem. Depression can trigger and intensify feelings of shame, failure, and unworthiness, especially in girls.
  • Social media abuse. Teens may go online to escape their problems, but excessive computer use only increases their isolation, making them more depressed. High-risk behavior. Girls with depression are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex or self-harm. Violence. Some depressed teens become violent and act out their aggression physically.

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Ashley Rodebaugh, M.A.
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