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Teenage Depression: Causes and Symptoms


Depression is a mental disorder that affects health, thoughts, and feelings and leads to a change of behavior. It affects one’s moods in general. Symptoms of depression may vary from individual to individual and sometimes may depend on the intensity of depression. These symptoms may include but are not limited to pessimism, loss of interest, oversleeping, lack of concentration, and sadness. There are many forms of depression. These include major depression, bipolar, and Dysthymia depressions (Bicknell, 2010)

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Diagnosis of depression is done through complete psychological evaluation by a physician or psychologist. This may include a review of the history of physical health and medical conditions. The treatment of depression depends on the findings of diagnosis. In some people, psychotherapy may solve the problem but some need the use of both psychotherapy and anti-depressants.

Teenage depression

Teenage depression affects teenagers and is distinct from adult depression. It may lead to violence, homicide, drug abuse, problems both at home and in school and suicide. Teenage depression may arise from home or at school. Teenagers are faced with a lot of situations including peer pressure, the need to be recognized by others, and egocentrism. If not guided through these situations by parents, teachers, and significant others they are likely to face depression (Jaffe, 2007). Several theories attempt to examine the subject of teenage depression. These theories give the views of different sociologists on depression.

Cognitive Theory

This theory is advanced by Beck. Beck holds the idea that in depression, mood and affective symptoms are preceded by cognitive ones. He argues that negative thoughts are central to depression and not the hormonal changes as favored by other sociological theorists (Allen, 2003)

Beck argues that one’s view of self institute depression; and not depression causing one to view self negatively. For instance, research by Abela and D’Alessandro (2002) during admission of college students found out that negative attitude by students about the future strongly took control of the increase in depression mood and its interaction with dysfunctional attitudes (Allen, 2003). Teenagers are also faced with issues of the future. Their current self-perception may affect the way they view and anticipate their future.

When not guided the teenagers are likely to acquire negative attitudes toward themselves and consequently believe that their destinies are pegged on their current situation. The negative view of self by a teenager may present him or her with ideas of hopelessness and pessimism about the future, as a result, such a teenager may contemplate suicide, escape to the streets to seek consolation in drugs and alcohol. The reality may be that search teenagers might succeed in life when proper guidance and advice are offered to help them believe in themselves and their potential. The cognitive theory has turned into what is referred to as Beck’s Depression Inventory used to assess depression in several studies.

Structural functionalism

This theory is majorly associated with Parsons; however, there are other contributors like Robert Merton and Kingsley Davis. This theory centers on consensus, evolutionary changes, functions, and interdependence. It deals with society at a macro-level. The main focus is institutions and other social structures. It argues that different components of society contribute to its overall functioning. These components work in harmony and follow the pattern of interdependence. These parts are usually in equilibrium and have no major conflict. It argues that the evolutionary nature of society stimulates adjustment of its structures towards equilibrium.

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Teenagers are an integral part of society. They are also players in social processes. At their age, they need a lot of guidance and cooperation. Every individual in society is concerned about pursuing his or her interest. In the process of this pursuit the individual needs this cooperation otherwise conflict may arise. When left alone the teenagers are still young and cannot make a sound decisions on their own. Most teenagers will be driven into making mistakes that land them into depression and its consequences.

There is also a need to understand the feelings and ideas of teenagers. Through this, they can be given proper advice on various issues. Refusing to listen to them is to ignore very important players in the social processes and they are likely to feel worthless in the society yet every component of the society is as important as the other and must work harmoniously with the rest of the other members to achieve socially acceptable goals. This sense of worthlessness is what exposes them to depression (Sociology 250, 1999)

Conflict theory

Karl Marx is the proponent of this theory. It argues that conflict exists between two groups in society; the proletariats and the bourgeoisie. Bourgeoisies are the owners of the means of production while the proletariats are the exploited owners of labor. Karl Marx believes that there is tension amongst people of different social statuses. The main emphasis of this theory is the use of power and coercion.

The family is a microcosm of society. It also has conflict within it. In many cases, teenagers are involved in conflict with their parents and teachers. The teen demands may conflict with what the parents expect of them. This creates tension. Since the parents are always the most powerful in the family, they reign on their teenagers. The teenagers may feel out of place and start getting stressed up hence they quickly fall into depression. If not realized early enough this may change the teen’s behavior and mood. In some cases, depressed teenagers are a result of depressed parents (Scheff, 2007).

Intimate relationships are also the potential course of depression amongst teenagers. They may not be mature enough to handle the emotional problem and breakups. They can easily mishandle the situation to the point of falling into depression. In school, teachers may give some punishment to those who fail in tests. This may make a teenager have emotional stress due to constant fear of what is associated with failure. This may affect students who naturally do not perform well in class (Scheff, 2007). Mistreatment by fellow teenagers may also cause depression. The mistreated ones feel some sense of weakness and are constantly worried about self-defense.

Symbolic interactionism

It is associated with American philosopher George Herbert Mead and German sociologist Max Weber. This theory bases its argument on the image of human beings and not society. It argues that human beings must pragmatically adjust their daily behavior to those of others. Symbolic interactionism studies society through interactions. It is then important for teenagers to get guided on the best interactions that will reinforce their positive thoughts.

Teenagers interact in groups. Sometimes they are forced to adjust their behaviors to fit into the groups. This creates tension between them and the guardians who may, in turn, mishandle them. The groups may range from drug abusers, criminal gangs, and even occults. All these are likely to create depression. Teenagers being part of the interacting members of the society are exposed to many situations that may land them into depression.

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Depression is not a weakness but a condition that arises from a mental or psychic disorder. Depression mostly affects the moods and behavior of individuals in society. The courses may either be internally or externally originated. Teenage depression may arise from mistreatment both at home and school, low self-esteem, and getting into an intimate relationship prematurely. Teenagers need proper guidance since they have a lot of energy and may engage in activities whose results lead to depression and its consequences. Individuals should be trained on important life skills as they approach teenagers. This will reduce their chances of being depressed or getting into depressing situations (Blumer, 1969). This will also help them know how to handle depression.

Teenage depression can remain hidden for a long time since teenagers sometimes keep to themselves. It is not easy for them to open up. The danger is that the depression may be realized very late. When depression reaches an advanced stage it can cause serious injury to the mental faculty and or death.

Prevention of depression should start with guardians and teachers being close to teenagers, understanding their point of view on certain issues and instead of refusing them a chance to pursue an interest, they should be given reasons behind such a refusal. The treatment of depression should start with a physician or psychologist diagnosing the intensity of that condition (Jaffe et al, 2007.).

Patients with depression can be treated depending on their condition. There are those treated by psychotherapy yet some are taken through both psychotherapy and specialized treatment that involves the prescription of antidepressant drugs.

Depression does not only affect teenagers, adults and even children below teenagers may suffer depression. However, the prevailing environment in which one may get depressed differs. This may vary from oppressive treatments, overwhelming duties, constant fear of some dangers and uncertainties.


Allen J. Josiah. 2003. “An Overview of Beck’s Cognitive Theory of Depression in Contemporary Literature.” Rochester Institute of Technology, Web.

Blumer, Herbert. 1969. “Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective and Method.” Kent McClelland, Web.

Insel, Thomas. 2010. “Transforming the Understanding and Treatment of Mental Illness through.” National Institute of Mental Health, Web.

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Jaffe, Jaelline et al. 2007. “A Guide for Parents and Teachers” Teen Depression, Web.

Scheff, Sue. 2007. “About Teenage Depression.” Parents Universal Resource Experts, Web. 

Sociology 250. 1999. Functionalism and Parsons. Free Press, Web.

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