Teen depression is a serous condition that has been largely ignored until recent events in the media focused more attention to the seriousness of the problem. This research examines the attitudes and past research concerning teen depression. It examines past attitudes and clinical treatments of the past. Many of these ideas and treatments have been found to be largely ineffective in dealing with the problem. This research examines literature regarding these treatments and supports the hypothesis through this literature that teen depression can only be diagnosed and treated through a holistic approach that focuses on the entire family and the many relationships in which a teen is involved. This research examines the causes, diagnoses, and treatment of adolescent depression.
Methods for Conducting the Review
Factors That May Lead to Adolescent Depression
The Family and Teen Depression
How to Spot and Help a Troubled Teen
Treatment Options for Teen Depression
Adolescent Depression and the Family
The adolescent years are a time of great confusion for many teens. Their bodies are growing and going through many changes. Many of these are hormonal and can cause a wide variety of emotional reactions. This all comes at a time when they are shedding their childhood and trying to define themselves and become the adults that they soon will become. It is normal for all teens to go through a time of doubt and suffer some emotional turmoil and even depression at times. often this depression is short-lived and can be considered a normal part of growing up.
Because of these changes and the fact that teens often go through emotional swings, real teenage depression has often been misdiagnosed, or simply attributed to a "stage" they the teen is going through. Until recently, it was not even considered possible that teens could suffer from true clinical depression. It was thought that depression had a Freudian cause and that teens were incapable of suffering from real depression. Depression was considered a normal part of adolescence.
Recently, there has been a great deal of media attention focused on teens that commit violent acts against themselves and others. One prime example is that of the shootings at Columbine High School. These events have caused officials and psychologists to search for answers. Everyone wants the answer to the question "Why?" In all of these events. Previously, teens that committed these acts were automatically assumed to be from lower socio-economic status or they were assumed to be from certain ethnic groups. However, the boys who committed the acts at Columbine High School did not fit the stereotypical profile, held for so long in the public eye.
This events and many other events like it have focused the attention, both in the media and in the academic world on answering the questions of how supposedly normal children from high education, high income families can become so distraught that they commit these horrible acts. After all, according to societies, these children from affluent families have it all. How could they ever have any problems at all, at least compared to those less fortunate?
There have been many studies, many of them recent, that have focused on teenage depression and tried to find the factors that lead to it and propose treatment methods for helping these youth to adjust to life's stresses. Much of this research was based on studies conducted on adult depression, making the erroneous assumption that teenage depression would be likely to stem from the same causes and that the same therapies and treatments would be effective. However, as this research will demonstrate, adolescent depression is very different from adult depression. It is much more complex and much more difficult to diagnose and treat. This research will be conducted using the results of previous research on the subject.
The effects of relationships, especially that of those with the adolescent's family play one of the most important roles in diagnosing and treating adolescent depression. In adult depression, the emphasis is on the individual. Until recently, this approach was taken with depressed teens as well. This research will focus on proving the hypothesis, through the examination of past literature, that a more family centered and holistic approach will be more successful in diagnosing and treating teen depression.
Methods for Conducting the Literature Review
There has been a wealth of credible information published in academic journals in recent years. A library search at this point in time is limited and cannot encompass the majority of the information on this subject. A Local University Library is often limited to a few select journals that are found in the reference section. They usually have the most recent versions of the more popular academic journals such as Journal of American Psychology, or The Journal of Clinical Psychology. However, there are many more thousands of journals now available.
Most of these journals can be found online via the Internet. There are many abstracts available, however there are also thousands of full texts, with the journal number in which they appeared referenced. Many of these articles are published in hard copy journals and are simply a facsimile of the original article. These articles are the types that will be used in conducting this research. No articles are referenced that were found to be "abstract only." Only article for which the full text was available was used.
All of the articles used for this review were published in actual academic journals, or in some cases, by government agencies. However, they were found in their entirety on the Internet. In the Works Cited section of this report, one will notice that both the academic journals in which the article was published are provided, as well as the location where the article can be viewed online.
There are thousands of articles relating to teen-age depression and the many factors that have been studied and found to have causal attributions. A literature review of these studies could contain a list of hundreds of references and would be hundreds of pages long. For the sake of keeping this research to a reasonable length, studies were used that referenced and summarized the results of these many other studies. This was the most efficient way encompass the largest amount of information in the most concise manner. For this reason, in some cases, references will be cited for which the full article was not located, especially for older works, but which are summarized in the works examined. These are indicated as being contained within another reference. However, the full citation is included in the Works Cited page, in case the reader wishes to locate the original work.
Factors That May Lead to Adolescent Depression
Early studies on adolescent depression were based on work regarding adult depression. Many factors were blamed for teen depression, including divorce, a history of child abuse, a neglectful mother and many other factors. In many cases, there was a link found and a resounding "Eureka!" was sounded in the field of clinical psychology. However, these studies continued to fail to produce real result in actual practice and failed to explain the instances of depression and maladaptive behavior in which these factors did not exist. Therefore the idea of finding the miracle link was abandoned and researchers began to focus on the cases that did not fit the stereotypical mold of coming from poor, uneducated, dysfunctional families. These early studies also failed to explain how some children from the stereotypical profile failed to develop depression or maladaptive behaviors. These early studies left too many questions unanswered and it was clear that a new approach had to be found.
It was this work that led to the more widely accepted holistic approach that is nor considered to be the current standard of practice for diagnosis and treatment of teen depression. Depression used to be considered to be of little consequence and importance. It was thought that little harm could come of it and the child would eventually outgrow it. However, now we know that depression leads to involvement in many self-destructive behaviors such as substance abuse, crime, sex, and even suicide or murder. We now know that all of these things can have their root in teenage depression and that left untreated, it can lead to devastating consequences, for the individual, family, and community at large. Treating adolescent depression has become a major goal of parents, educators, and medical professionals.
Adolescence is a stressful time as youth deal with pressures from family, school, friends, and employers. Often they are under stress as they strive to define themselves and their self-worth. Some youth skate through this period of their lives unscathed. However, some may experience extreme stress and may not have the coping mechanisms and communication skills to successfully deal with them. This stress can lead to depression and this depression can have serious consequences (Walker, 1986).