Teen depression is becoming a bigger problem by the day, or so it seems. At present, about 20% of teenagers experience depression. Of these 20%, only half find that antidepressant medications work well for them. Why is this such a problem? In the US, depression has become the number 1 cause of disability. This means that depression stops Americans from living normal, high functioning lives more than any other medical condition out there. And our already vulnerable teenagers are falling more susceptible to it.
Depression is such a debilitating condition for many reasons. The side effects do vary from person to person, but there’s no doubt that no matter who you are or what form of depression you have – times are very tough indeed. Teenagers, in particular, can experience side effects with greater severity than adults. This is because they are already experiencing the significant hormonal changes which accompany puberty, along with the emotional challenges of transitioning from child to adult. We all know how difficult adolescence can be, so it’s no wonder that adding a debilitating condition like depression to the mix can result in debilitation.
In the past, depression has been hugely stigmatized in western culture and society. In fact, mental illnesses of all kinds have been swept under the rug and ignore. Thankfully, this attitude has shifted dramatically in recent times. Our understanding of mental illnesses like depression is deepening, and the support offered to sufferers is improving.
What a lot of people still don’t realize is that there are a number of different types of depression. While all share some symptoms in common and can be easily mixed up, each stands out from the others in some way. Identifying which kind of depression a teen is suffering from is key to finding them the best possible treatment.
However, there are many different kinds of depression including:
Read more about the types of depression.
Even more than the misunderstanding that surround the different types of depression, there is still very little awareness of the symptoms of depression. While most people still believe that depression involves simply feeling sad all of the time, the list of symptoms is more more complex. Common symptoms of depression include:
These are just some of the warning signs to look out for with adolescent depression, or any other form of depression. Unfortunately, many are associated with the behaviours of teenagers and young adults in general, so they might seem like just another phase. However, they could be a sign of a serious mental illness, so parents should try their best to keep a very watchful eye. Their child or adolescent could be at risk of suicide.
The current treatment options for depression are fairly limited. The most common treatment is a combination of antidepressant medication and talk therapy. Antidepressant medications attempt to correct chemical imbalances in the brain, particularly in relation to serotonin, the chemical which is responsible for feeling happy and content. This is the primary way that antidepressant medications treat depression.
While it does largely work, the effect of the medication on the patient can often be similar to that of a sedative, which is obviously problematic. Furthermore, antidepressants can be heavily addictive and cause dependency problems.
Talking therapies, on the other hand, involve no medication whatsoever. These therapies are centred around psychological evaluations and a program of interactions between a trained psychotherapist or other mental health professional and the patient. In short, they involve talking to a professional about your feelings. The therapist tries to identify what help you need and teaches you how to manage your emotional health more effectively in the future.
Again, for a great many people these therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, works wonders. However, for some, it simply isn’t enough. If the relationship between the patient and therapist isn’t just right, the patient may be unwilling to divulge and if the patient isn’t willing or comfortable the therapy will not work.
Because the current treatment options don’t work well for everyone, people have been searching for a viable alternative and a method of prevention. Many have turned to CBD, the oil which is derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant. For centuries, indigenous peoples have used this oil as a medicine on a whole range of illnesses and conditions. It has always been known to have mood stabilizing effects. However, the abuse of the drug and the addictive high caused by that has earned cannabis a very bad name.
The Schedule 1 Drug status of cannabis has made the study of its medicinal qualities almost impossible. The studies which have been conducted have been of such a low scientific research standard that they cannot be used for the basis of any categorical claims. For now, medical cannabis and CBD remain relatively mysterious despite the centuries of anecdotal evidence in their favor.
Could it be used to prevent teen depression? Maybe. There is no reason to say it couldn’t. However, there isn’t enough evidence to recommend its use in the case of children and adolescents whose bodies are vulnerable and experiencing enough changes as it is. There are some great services and resources available for teens with depression today, including the national suicide prevention lifeline and the national institute of mental health. That decision is, however, down to each individual parent.
If you’re considering trying CBD as a preventative measure against teen depression for your children, please remember to do your research online. There’s a huge amount of misinformation online in relation to CBD, so critically analyse everything you read. You must also remember that the laws regarding medical cannabis and its products vary widely from state to state, so please don’t accidentally break the law. Finally, if you do decide to try CBD oil, speak to your family doctor or a medical professional first. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.