Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff – Depression in Teens, Five Risk Factors

Another guest post and this is a topic that many parents face with teens today.  As school will be opening soon, let’s be sure our teens are healthy both emotionally and physically.

Teen Depression: 5 Risk Factors

By Alexis Bonari

Teenagers represent the demographic that is most prone to experience chronic depression.  Suicide among teens is an all-time high. While it’s impossible to be completely keyed-in to your child’s inner life, it is important to take certain risk factors into account when determining whether your child is at risk for chronic depression.  What follows are the five factors that have been statistically proven to effect depression:

1. Family History
Chronic depression has been shown to be at least partially genetic. Depression is a chemical condition. When an individual is depressed, their brain fails to produce certain chemicals that would normally allow for a happier state of mind.  These chemicals are controlled by structures in the brain that are passed down the family line.  If you your immediate relatives suffer from depression, chances are greater that your children will too.

2. Substance Abuse
Alcohol, marijuana, and other “downers” cause a chemical change in the brain that can lead to depression.  Also, use of these drugs can greatly alter an individual’s productivity.  This leads to social isolation and reinforces a depressed mental state.

3. Gender
Women are more likely than men to experience severe depression.  This difference is even more exacerbated during adolescence.  Some believe that a difference in brain physiology is to blame.  Others believe that social pressures weight more heavily on women than on their male counterparts.  Teenage girls are more likely than teenage boys to be the target of long-term hazing and bullying.

4. Personality
Different personalities handle stress differently.  If your child has an introverted personality type, they are at risk for social isolation and depression.

5. Stressful Life Events
The death of a close relative, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a failing grade on a test, or any other negative event can seem like the end of the world when you’re 16. A teenager’s brain isn’t fully developed.  There are physiological reasons why teenagers seem to “freak out” over what most adults would consider normal pitfalls along the road of life.  Don’t discount or downplay your child’s feelings, even if they seem extreme given the situation.  If your teen feels they can confide in you, they’re more likely to avoid long-term depression.

As parents, we represent our child’s first line of defense against things that might cause them harm. Although depression is an internal matter, it poses as real a risk to a child’s future as illegal drug use or irresponsible sex.  An informed parent can be the difference between life and death for a depressed teen.

Bio pf Author: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She often can be found blogging about general education issues as well as information on college scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.