It is known as ‘the other pandemic’ or the ’21st century disease’ because more and more people are suffering from it. Depression is also one of the mental disorders more common in adolescents. According to figures from Unicef, in Spain 15% of them present “serious or moderately severe” symptoms of depression, however, they are not always detected on time.
in his report The State of the World’s Children 2021Unicef assures that the problems of mental health they begin around the age of 14 and that depression is more common among girls (70.1%) than among boys (39.6%). This may be due to the hormonal changes that women suffer at a much earlier age than men, and to the very pressure that society puts on them. But how can we prevent it and stop it before it is too late?
There are two factors that make it difficult to depression screening in adolescents: firstly, the very changes that are experienced during adolescence; physical, emotional and hormonal, which can lead to confusion, and, secondly, the differences in symptoms between young people and adults. That’s why it’s paramount pay attention to behavioral changes of the youngest.
Most common symptoms in adolescents
We spoke with Diana Diazexpert psychologist in childhood and adolescence, and director of the help lines of ANARto find out what are the most common symptoms of depression in adolescents:
- Humor changes sustained in time. The adolescent is very easy to cry, manifests feelings of sadness and even verbalizes his hopelessness in phrases such as “Nothing makes sense.”
- loss of concentration or ability to make decisions.
- Loss of interest in activities which he usually liked. This is one of the most characteristic symptoms, which manifests itself not only in his hobbies, but also in the loss of interest in the people who usually surround him, such as friends and family. All this translates into isolation and is a phenomenon known in psychology as anhedonia.
- very negative vision of the present and of the future. A very negative discourse of the world around him is established in the adolescent.
- very low self esteem. The adolescent never looks good and does not trust himself to meet his goals and objectives.
- outbursts of anger. Many adolescents who do not have the tools to manage sadness show constant irritability and a defensive attitude that often breaks out into fits of anger.
- Poor school performance. Motivations and interests are reduced and school performance decreases.
- Psychosomatic symptomatology. They translate into stomach aches, skin problems and even allergies that do not respond to a specific physical origin.
These are some of the most common symptoms among those who suffer from depression, but each adolescent has his own peculiarities. Also, not all symptoms occur at once. According to SSpanish Society of Psychiatry and Mental Healthmost depressed people have five or six.
What to do if I observe these symptoms
The OMS cautions that “a depressive episode is not the same as usual mood swings, and these episodes span most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks.”
Therefore, if we observe these sustained symptoms in our adolescents, the first thing we should know is that neither time nor solitude will solve the problem. Not talking about it won’t make it go away. It is absolutely essential to contact a psychologist.
It is also important to recognize depression for what it is: uno disease which, if left untreated, can have irreversible consequences such as suicide or the chronification of the disease. If there has been one episode, it is very likely that there will be more.
Diana Diaz reminds us that we must keep in mind that depression is not about a lack of will or failure for the adolescent. And that this will need, mainly, to have a support net patient and unconditional for your recovery, which will often require medium and long term treatment.
Another piece of advice that many experts share is validation and standardization of emotions in adolescent settings. Convey understanding and naturalness so that they understand that it is not anyone’s fault and that depression can happen to anyone.
Growing since the pandemic
Depression was already a growing problem in our country three years ago, when the covid pandemic devastated everything. And, unsurprisingly, its consequences for the mental health of adolescents were catastrophic. Since then, cases of anxiety and depression multiplied by three and suicides increased up to 59% according to the report published by the Multidisciplinary Working Group on Mental Health in Childhood and Adolescence, of the Spanish Association of Primary Care Pediatrics (Aepep).
Also at ANAR they have verified this significant increase in cases of depression in their help lines where, for the first time in 29 years, this has been the first reason for consultation by young people. And it continues to grow: since 2021 requests for help from sadness and depression has grown to 55%.
Prevention from families and schools
Depression is the result of various social, psychological and biological factors. For this reason, there is no definitive way to prevent it. However, healthy lifestyle habits, a good diet, physical exercise and the promotion of emotional intelligence from training centers and from families, can provide young people with tools and a solid structure to manage their problems and emotions. more easily.
If you are suffering any of these symptoms or require psychological assistance, you can call ANAR’s free and confidential telephone number: 900 20 20 10. You also have at your disposal the suicide prevention number of the Government of Spain: 024
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