Up to now most depression in adolescence was associated with girls. But nowadays, at least in America, teen depression is just as common in boys. Another case of sexual equality!
Leaving teen depression untreated or thinking it is just a phase is no longer justified as the consequences are serious. There is now growing evidence that teens with depression get caught up in drinking, drug abuse, felonies, accidents, violence of one kind or another and of course suicide.
As regards girls, this depression is a result of increasing peer and social pressure to be academically bright, good looking, sexy and to be just as good on the sports field as boys. Many girls succumb to the pressure and a depressed state is the result.
As regards teenage boys, the goalposts have been moved and they are at a loss as to how to cope. They may be also suffering from the results of a divorce within their immediate family and having no support from absent parents or witnessing conflict can also be another cause. They too, like the girls are under pressure to perform well at school and on the sports field.
Both boys and girls suffer from the inability to talk about their own feelings and the feelings they may have for others who are close to them. This is known as alexithymia.
Yet, if they can not overcome this handicap, they will have little chance of surviving or even gaining happiness from a relationship. The easy way out is to be trapped into drug abuse, or promiscuous sex. If we want a glimpse of the male teenage world, the book called Real Boys by William Pollack is an eye opener. It relates what boys have to go through in getting to know their sexuality, their relationships with both girls and boys and their fears of harassment from other boys.
So, what can be done to resolve teen depression?
Talking and offering support is just not enough. We need to go much further. Making sure that teenagers can connect and not brush the problem under the carpet by not talking about it.
Communication is key and it is absolutely crucial that we can get across the idea that the closer human contact they have, the better it is and it will make them stronger and safer.
That includes relations with parents, siblings, relatives, friends, and schoolmates. Very often teens with depression are setting up barriers to all this communication making it extremely difficult to get through to them.
Think carefully about lifestyle changes. They will not cure this disorder but they can go a long way to lessening its devastating effects. Just think that the good mood endorphins we get after exercise can last up to twelve hours.
Talking to teens with depression means talking about their problem and fully discussing with them the type of talk therapy they would like, the choice of therapist, the lifestyle changes they think they can manage.
They should also be aware of what medications can do and what they cannot do. That is why I have prepared a website where you can see some other suggestions for teen depression to help them get out of the jungle.