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02-04 Learning about teenage depression prevention

Posted in Teen Depression

Learning about teenage depression prevention

A teen that has depression must face several different struggles in regards toward their relationships, schooling and their work. Mind you this is in addition to the already unstable time that accompanies the transition between middle and high school. This is a period in which teens are defining themselves through their personalities, hobbies, clothing etc. In many cases this will mean a large amount of change for many teens which can end up making some of them uncomfortable as everything they had known up until this point goes into flux. Teenage depression added to this will often magnify the problem greatly. However, it has been found that bringing up the fact that adolescence is a time of change which is normal may actually be helpful in reducing depression for the young mind.

As friendships and social connections change, teens may face emotional problems. Specifically, many teens may develop depression during this time in their lives, suffering from symptoms such as feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem or depressed mood. A recent study from the University of Texas done by David Yeager and Adriana Sum Miu has found that educating teens about the changeable nature of personality traits during this period of their lives may help to prevent depressive symptoms which may often be seen during the transition into high school.

The study was published online in Clinical Psychological Science and showed that exposing teens to a brief message about how people can change may help reduce depressive symptoms during their first few weeks of high school. This was a longitudinal intervention study which included about 600 ninth-grade students at three different high schools. Students were randomly assigned to participate in the treatment intervention or in a control group at the beginning of the year and all activities took place during a regular class period and required only paper or a computer.

The students in the treatment intervention group were asked to read a passage which described how individual personalities are subject to change. This passage also emphasized that being bullied was not a result of a fixed personal deficiency and also that bullies were not essentially “bad” people. The passage was accompanied by an article discussing brain plasticity and endorsements from older students. Once students finished reading the passage they were asked to write their own narrative about how personalities change which would later be shared with future ninth graders.

Those students who were in the control group were asked to read a passage which was instead focused on the flexibility of athletic ability rather than a personality related trait.

Researchers followed up with the students nine months after these activities to rate the appearance of clinical depression symptoms. It was found that those students in the control group had a rise of 39 percent in their depressive symptoms. In contrast, those students who participated in the treatment intervention group and learned about the flexibility of personality traits were found to have no increase in their depressive symptoms even if they had been bullied. Specifically, the intervention had affected the symptoms of negative mood, feelings of ineffectiveness and low self-esteem.

This study can provide parents with valuable tools to help them decrease the symptoms of depression in their young teens as they transition into high school. This also provides the opportunity for more research concerning long and short term results, which symptoms are affected by these types of activities and other aspects of the study.

For parents concerned that their teen is suffering from depression, it may be a good idea to discuss it with a doctor. Symptoms of teenage depression will often include irritability, fatigue, unexplained aches and pains, trouble sleeping, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, a loss of interest in activities or thoughts of suicide. This can significantly increase the difficulties that teens have to deal with on a daily basis so it is important to seek treatment to allow them to lead happy and healthy lifestyles. Treatment can include medication, therapy or a combination of both. Discuss any medication options with your doctor and contact him or her often to keep them updated on any side effects. Therapy is extremely helpful in treating depression and can provide teens with new skills, tools and thought patterns which can decrease their symptoms.

To learn more about teenage depression treatment, please go to page on mood disorders or call 866-615-7266.

Written by Sovereign Health Group writer, Brianna Gibbons

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