Lifestyle, Youth

Adolescents, living with or dying from depression

Depression is an emotional disorder where pessimistic thoughts and sadness predominate. During adolescence, which is a normal but long period of time, very significant and even contradictory events happen. Much anxiety and little experience contribute to stress and often to minor or major depressive states.

José A. de la Osa


During adolescence, which is a normal but long period of time, very significant and even contradictory events happen, such as impulsive behaviour and the desire to be independent, while at the same time, needing parental love and support.

There are also difficulties relating to sexuality, the end of secondary education and the entry into working life or the continuation of university studies.  Much anxiety and little experience contribute to stress and often to minor or major depressive states. This is the view of renowned scientist, Doctor of Medical Sciences Elsa Gutiérrez Barró, Professor and Consultant of Child-Adolescent Psychiatry, Professor of Merit and former Director of the Adolescence Clinic.

Is depression in adolescence considered an illness?

It can be an illness or a phase.

Does science know the main causes from which they originate?

How the neurotransmitters act (regulators of higher nervous activity) in depressive disorders is known, but not all depression has the same cause.  What is really important is recognising that a depressed adolescent needs timely support, particularly a good listener who is willing to listen to the difficulties and hardship of the person who feels lonely.

Are there risk factors for its appearance?

I would say that self-esteem is built within a loving family, caring and providing appropriate role models.  Depression in children and adolescents frequently occur within a dysfunctional family.

At what stage of adolescence does it usually set in?

Adolescence is considered to range from between age 10-11 until 18-20.  Depression can present itself at any age, although it is more frequent after puberty.

Could it be said that depression stems from a weakness or a character flaw?

I am not satisfied with that statement. However, resilience (strength to cope with adversity) is a form of “vaccine” in itself, a form of personality which positively influences the individual to fight and come out the other side of any misfortune.  However, anyone can have a stage or period of depression.

What general signs and symptoms are shown by adolescents who are troubled by depression?

Isolation, sadness and lack of motivation are frequent.  However, it must be understood that in some depressed adolescents, irritability and even aggressiveness predominate.

What consequences can it carry?

There is often underperformance and a lack of interest in studies, tiredness and noticeable changes in character.  The more serious complication which can occur are thoughts of self-harming, both attempted and actual suicide.

Do both sexes behave in a similar way?

Attempted suicides are more frequent in females while suicide is more frequent in males.

At what stage must parents seek professional help?

At the first sign when the adolescent expresses a wish to end their life.  There are many myths surrounding suicides and one of those even says that a person who is going to commit suicide does not indicate their intention.  This is a mistake.  Loss of interest, sadness, a sudden change in their habits andbehaviour indicate the need to seek professional help.

What professionals are responsible for the care of these disorders?

The professionals responsible are clinical psychologists, general and child- or adolescent psychiatrists. The GP or paediatrician can provide guidance on the route to follow.  The mental health care team is the most suitable.

Is there a cure for these disorders?

Undoubtedly, yes.  The crisis which causes the depression can be moderated and overcome.  On occasions, it is necessary to use prescription drugs as well as individual or group psychotherapy and in all cases, care and guidance for parents and the family is very important, as well as seeking information and guidance from the school and teachers.  Epidemiological research would be very useful, studying the statistics and promoting this important issue among graduates, master and doctoral students. PL

(Translated by Louise Jefferson   E – mail: Photos: Pixabay



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