I often read headlines in the media about how people are becoming more depressed and start increasingly using antidepressants, with or without a doctor’s recommendation. When I type the term “depression treatment” in search, I get a lot of results of the type of alternative and natural treatment as well as the pharmaceutical supports. Through many years of working with families and children, I can say that I have met a large number of women (and men) and children who have quite a few symptoms of depression. But to start with the very concept of depression, what is it?
Depression has been around since the beginning of civilization. It is one of the earliest described diseases in medicine. The word depression comes from the Latin word “deprimere“, which means “to press”, “to imprint” or “to sink”.
Depression is most often associated with feelings of sadness … but it is much more than just sadness. There are periods of life when we are sad, due to some loss, death of a loved one, friend or when we have suffered material or emotional loss. That sadness lasts for a short time and is slightly weak. Sadness is not depression. Sadness is the emotion.
However, if the grief appears for no reason or is disproportionate to the cause, or if the grief does not stop or comes back, if the person finds it difficult to work, socialize, sleep, and can no longer rejoice in life, then it is no longer a simple mood … it is a depression.
Depression is considered a deadly disease, because about 15% of depressed people commit suicide. Therefore, the general opinion of experts is that this disease should be approached with a great seriousness.
The World Health Organization – WHO, warns that by 2030 the cost of treating depression will increase so much that this will be the biggest financial “burden” on all health systems.
Here I want to talk about depression seen in young people, more precisely girls. The diagnosis of depression is established when its symptoms have a negative impact on everyday life, learning, working, social life and functioning in the family. If we do not recognize the symptoms in time and do not start treatment, this disease leads to serious problems in the family, work, school and with peers. People might start using alcohol, drugs and other substances; addictive behaviors can develop, and even tragic events such as violence or suicide.
According to some research, depression occurs much more often in young people than people think. Depression occurs in approximately 2% of children, in equal proportions between boys and girls. In adolescence, approximately 4% – 8% of young people develop depression, and the ratio between boys and girls is 1: 2.
It is possible to be depressed when we are in a sad and / or irritable mood, or we have lost interest or satisfaction in all or almost all activities, lasts for at least two weeks with some of the following signs: changes in appetite, changes in sleep habits, fatigue or loss of energy , exhaustion, unjustified feelings of guilt, remorse, inability to make decisions (excessive indecision), feelings of helplessness, thoughts of death or suicide that can turn into deeds.
There are similarities in the causes of depression in adults and children, but age certainly has its specifics: genetic predisposition, growing up with one parent, biological changes in the brain, early puberty, overload and stress, parental marital problems especially in the presence of violence, poor parent-child relationship (emphasizing the worthlessness of the child, without respect for the child’s personality and care), loss of an important person, domestic abuse, peer violence / abuse, low socioeconomic status, poor health, etc.
Negative behaviors of young people and children can often indicate depression. These negative behaviors can be: problems at school, running away from home, consuming alcohol and psychoactive substances / abuse, low self-esteem, internet addiction, risky behaviors (careless driving, uncontrolled drinking, sexual behavior and deviations in it and violence against oneself, peers, according to family members, and sometimes attempted murder.
Depression in young people is often associated with other psychiatric disorders such as self-harm, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, ADHD, etc.
Research led by Dr. Carol Joinson in the UK, gave the results that found that girls who go through puberty earlier, or enter puberty earlier, have a higher risk of developing depression. The study answered the question of the conction between the first menstruation and the symptoms of depression. They found that girls who first menstruation began before the age of 11.5 years, had the highest rate of depression in period between 13 and 14 years.
For comparison, girls whose first menstruation began after the age of 13.5. years, had the lowest rate of depression.
Dr. Carol Joinson explained the results in her paper: “Our research found that girls who mature earlier are more susceptible to developing depressive symptoms by the time they enter their teens. Which suggests to us that later maturation can be a protection against psychological stress … The transition to puberty is a critical developmental period, associated with many biological, cognitive and social changes … It can include increased conflicts with parents, the development of love relationships, changes in physical the appearance of that variable hormone level. These changes can have a more negative impact on girls who mature at an earlier age than those who enter it later. Girls who mature earlier may feel isolated and suddenly face demands they are not emotionally ready for.”
Researchers point out that girls who mature later may later experience similar levels of psychological stress as girls who mature earlier, of course after passing. The study was published in the British Psychiatric Journal, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). ln same study, the absence of a father in early childhood was associated with symptoms of depression in adolescent. Previous studies showed similar indications that absence of father at an early age, 0 to 5 years, is associated with earlier first menstruation, which can further lead to depression in girls as young as 14. 7056 girls from various parts of the UK participated in the study, for which mothers provided data on the onset of menstruation It was found that 15% of all connections between the absence of the father in early childhood and symptoms of depression at the age of 14 is directly related to the first menstruation. These findings suggest that depression prevention strategies in girls should be targeted at programs related to stressors in families.
There are many treatment options for depression in young people. In some cases, your GP may prescribe medications to relieve the symptoms of depression. However, many teenagers will need to visit a psychiatrist or psychologist, which for the society we live in is still so to speak a “shame,” partly because of a sense of stigma and partly because of distrust in the social and behavioral sciences.
The combination of medication and psychological counseling is very effective for most teens with depression.
Because studies on the effects of antidepressants for young people are limited, doctors rely on drugs used in adults, which are two drugs for depression in young people – fluoxetine and escitalopram. However, as with adults, other medications may be prescribed as needed.
One fact remains, depression in young people, especially girls, is a taboo topic. We need to understand that it is always more efficient to work with the causes of the problem, in this case depression, than with the consequences. When we know that girls show the strongest symptoms of depression in the period of early adolescence, we should know that it will have a very big impact on her further development, life. It is ungrateful to talk about accepting such people in our society, because I am of the opinion that we are not aware of the need and ways to preserve our mental health.