Depression Among Adolescents Term Paper

  • Length: 12 pages
  • Sources: 6
  • Subject: Health
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #12294857

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The Social Issue

Depression is a significant social issue of interest to me as I have seen it affect numerous people in my own life and have even struggled with it at times myself. Depression has caused people to take their lives: Chester Bennington, lead singer of the group Linkin Park took his life following the suicide of his friend, and numerous other people who are less famous end up in similar situations—lost, without hope, unable to break a cycle of depression that has them gripped as though in a vice. Depression is an issue that can be treated, however, but in order for the right intervention to be applied, awareness about depression has to be raised so that the stigma and taboo of depression can be alleviated, allowing those who suffer from it to come forward. In recent years, major public figures, especially athletes, have come into the light to talk about depression. NBA basketball stars Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan have talked about their struggles with mental health, which helped to increase awareness about the issue. Teens especially need to hear this subject discussed because they are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to depression.

Questions to Guide My Examination of This Issue

The questions that will guide my examination of this issue are:

1. Why are adolescents affected by depression?

2. What are the effects of depression among adolescents?

3. What are the ways depression can best be treated among adolescents?

High-Risk Population

Adolescents struggle with depression for a number of reasons. First, they are transitioning from a state of childhood to a state of adulthood: their bodies and minds are undergoing rapid, major changes and their roles and responsibilities are changing as well. They face many new pressures and stressors. Second, adolescents are impacted by peers, groups and media and the messages

Why Adolescents are at High Risk Compared to Other Groups

Adolescents are at a high risk for depression compared to other groups because they are going through very difficult changes during that time. Their bodies are changing, their minds are developing, and they are being faced with new peer pressures that they may not understand. Other groups such as adults or children are not as at such a great risk according to the statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health (2019), which found that “the prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode was highest among individuals aged 18-25 (13.1%).” Only 7% of adults suffer from depression, and children under the age of 12 are not likely to suffer from as it is very rare for them to experience prolonged periods of sadness or hopelessness. For teens, however, it is a different story. They are trying to figure out their place in life and they are transforming in so many different ways while that process is happening. Plus, they are inundated with a variety of stressors that adults and children do not face.

Contributing Factors

There are myriad causes and effects of depression in adolescents. Today’s adolescents live in a highly pressure-filled environment, where they are impacted by peers, groups and media to think, act, and feel a certain way (Bandura, 2018). It sets them up for conflict, both internal and external, and teens who are unable to cope with the conflict can succumb to negative impulses, such as depressed thoughts and feelings. According to Erikson’s model of human development, the adolescent stage of development is the fifth stage of development, as is typified by the Identity vs. Role Confusion conflict, which commonly lasts from ages 12-18—i.e., the teenage years (Shriner & Shriner, 2014). It is during this stage of development that teens struggle to understand who they are and what they should do with their lives, their talents, their desires, passions and so on. If they do not have a sense of talent, self-worth, value, passion, interest, or guidance, they can become depressed and withdrawn, failing to resolve the important conflict that people face at this stage of their lives. This is why guidance and support for teens is so important. Other pressures come in the form of drugs, sex, school, work, and family—and balancing all of these while also trying to find time for personal recreation can cause teens to have negative, depressed thoughts. In short, anything in one’s environment or within one’s own biological makeup can be a potential cause for depression.

However, as the Mayo Clinic (2019) points out, there is no known etiology
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of depression. A range of factors may play a part in why some teens become depressed and others do not. Brain chemistry, hormones, inherited traits, early childhood trauma, learned patterns of negative thinking—all of these can be causes of depression for teens (Mayo Clinic, 2019). If one’s neurotransmitters are not functioning normally, nerve receptors and systems change, which can trigger depression. This is usually a situation where pharmacological intervention is required. Hormones are something every teen experiences, as the body is changing and developing at a rapid pace and in a new way for teens. Depression can also be an inherited trait that teens acquire from a blood relative, such as a mother or father, a grandparent and so on. Trauma suffered at an early age can lead to later onset of depression in adolescence: sexual or emotional abuse, the loss of a pillar in one’s support system—such as a mother or father; abandonment—all of these are experiences that might cause trauma that leads to depression. Teens can also learn to be depressed by being around others who demonstrate helplessness and an inability to overcome challenges.

External factors may be that teens are hyper-connected, with digital devices over-stimulating them and giving them the means to engage in unhealthy social comparison, as they constantly monitor their social media pages and compares themselves to others. This can result in major depression. Lack of real community and real family support may…

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…more and more states, and the prevalence of opioids adds to the risk, adolescents come under added pressures to conform and do things they would not do if they were alone. Peer pressure is increasingly making it harder for teens to avoid these traps and social media is not helping.

Implications on Society and the Future Social Work Place if the Issue Persists

If this issue persists it could be devastating for society. As these adolescents grow up, if they continue to go untreated (and the majority of them do go untreated as the National Institute of Mental Health (2019) has shown), they will enter into adulthood with severe emotional and social problems. Their depression will likely have worsened and they will have likely turned to self-medication (i.e., drugs or alcohol) to help them deal with their depression. That will only worsen their condition. It will be hard for them to hold down jobs and get through school and they will end up not being big contributors to society.

The future social work place will suffer too if the problem persists. Too many teens today are lacking in social skills because they have spent all their time on social media and not on learning how to interact with real people in the real world. They do not know the basic norms of communication, how to use body language, how to read other people, or what it means to have social and emotional intelligence. Many of them have been taught and/or have come to believe that they are the center of the universe and thus they expect everyone to conform to their needs and allow them to create and carry with them their own personal safe space wherever they go. Those who suffer from depression will not even be able to retain jobs and so there will be less and less interaction in the workplace and more jobs will likely have to be outsourced. Jobs will end up becoming virtual positions too as that will be the only way people feel comfortable working—no one will want to go to a workplace.

Sunmmary: What I Have Learned in Terms of Issues That Generate Social Welfare Policies and Social Work Practice

This issue of depression has taught me that there is a need for society to address it and to help teens deal with the issues that are affecting them. Teens need a helping and supportive hand and if they do not receive it, they can become withdrawn and isolated. They can dwell on negative thoughts and emotions and become depressed for long periods of time. This might lead them to self-harm or to addiction. Awareness of addiction has to be increased so that teens do not feel like they have to be afraid to seek help.

Help should be provide in terms of social welfare policies like animal therapy being offered to teens to help them deal with their issues. This could be a public service, where…

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