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Adolescent Depression: Modern Issues and Resources


Today, teenagers encounter many challenging health-related issues; mental health conditions are one of them. This report presents the aspects of depression in adolescents, addressing the external stressors associated with it. The paper also discusses the assessment strategies a medical professional can utilize along with the related ethical parameters. The report concludes by outlining the support options for adolescents, including the ones linked to depression specifically.

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Addressing Depression in Adolescents

One of the most crucial issues adolescents encounter today is mental health disorders, including depression. World Health Organization (2018) reports that this condition is one of the leading causes of disability and illness among teenagers while also being the second leading cause of death. Depression, or major depressive disorder, is an illness characterized by depressed mood, anhedonia, irritability, disrupted sleep, poor appetite, difficulty in concentrating, and tendency to suicide (Yang et al., 2015). One of the primary external stressors associated with the issue is high levels of stress. Stress leads to the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and sympathetic nervous systems, which are some of the most common symptoms observed in patients showing depressive symptoms (Yang et al., 2015). Smith (2019) reports that adolescents may encounter factors triggering stress regularly, including academic and social ones, the issues associated with their family, and the ones related to world events.

One of the most effective assessment strategies to screen adolescents for major depressive disorder is the use of DSM-5 diagnostic criteria (Shelton, 2019). They include depressed mood most of the day, noticeable weight loss or weight gain, recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation, fatigue, reduction of physical movement, feelings of worthlessness, and diminished interest in most activities. According to this criterion, the patient should experience at least five of these symptoms within a two-week period (Shelton, 2019). The patient will be asked about possible problems at school or conflicts with family members or friends. The additional assessment questions will aim at identifying whether a patient experiences excessive worry over physical health, obsessive rumination, or anxiety (Shelton, 2019).

Currently, adolescents can consent to certain types of medical care, including mental health services, in many states under state laws or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) (Calman, Pfister, Lesnewski, Hauser, & Shroff, 2015). It means that the patient or guardian can be prevented from obtaining the patient’s data unless the adolescent permits it. Thus, the primary ethical parameter that should be considered is that a medical professional should comply with the laws, protecting the privacy of the adolescent’s data.

The support options for teenagers encountering external stressors include local mental health support groups, psychotherapy, and family support unless it is not one of the stress factors. It may be significant for teenagers to self-manage their symptoms, too. For instance, they may monitor their mood daily, pay attention to their sleep patterns, exercise regularly, and try to make healthy lifestyle choices (Goldberg, 2018). Such interventions, in addition to the support options presented above, can help adolescents to manage and minimize symptoms of major depressive disorder effectively.


Major depressive disorder is one of the most acute issues adolescents encounter in today’s world. The condition may result in poor appetite, decreased mood, and tendency to suicide and may be caused by extensive stress levels. The use of DSM-5 criteria is the most common assessment strategies to evaluate adolescents’ mental health states. The available support options include mental health support groups, family support, and psychotherapy.


Calman, N., Pfister, H. R., Lesnewski, R., Hauser, D., & Shroff, N. (2015). Electronic access to adolescents’ health records: Legal, policy, and practice implications. Family Practice Management, 22(2), 11-14.

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Goldberg, J. (2018). Depression support.

Shelton, J. (2019). Depression definition and DSM-5 diagnostic criteria. Web.

Smith, K. (2019). 6 common triggers of teen stress. Web.

World Health Organization. (2018). Adolescents: health risks and solutions. 

Yang, L., Zhao, Y., Wang, Y., Liu, L., Zhang, X., Li, B., & Cui, R. (2015). The effects of psychological stress on depression. Current Neuropharmacology, 13(4), 494-504.

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