• Dr Rachel Teoh

Young, energetic and depressed

Dr Rachel Teoh, MBBS, Dip Fam Med, Dip Derm

People often think of depression as an adult problem, but children, especially adolescents, commonly suffer from depression. What's more, depression in adolescent is often accompanied by behavioral problems, substance abuse and anxiety. The exact cause of depression is unknown. Studies suggest an individual's behaviors and thoughts can play a role. For example, tendencies for people to be pessimistic about the future and their surroundings put them at risk.

But there are certain risk factors that increase the risk of depression in an adolescent. These include:

  1. History of depression in a parent or sibling

  2. Family dysfunction

  3. Poor coping skills

  4. Previous bouts of depression

  5. History of anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

  6. History of brain injury or low birth weight

  7. Chronic medical illness

Depressed mood such as feeling down and sad much of the time is a key symptom of depression. But children or adolescent sometimes lack the emotional maturity to recognise that they are dealing with depression. As a coping mechanism, they sometimes seek out activities to temporarily lift their mood; for example thrill seeking activities, promiscuity and drug abuse. The need for social connection is much more intense and urgent. Other symptoms include the following:

  1. Appetite and weight can either decrease or increase.

  2. Sleep too much or too little, or odd patterns of sleep.

  3. Agitated and restless.

  4. Fatigue.

  5. Recurring thought of death or suicide.

Studies show that in children who are being treated for depression, the condition can last 8 to 13 months. After recovery, 30 to 70 percent of children tend to relapse. In adolescent, depression might last 4 to 9 months, and 20 to 50% might relapse.

Your child's doctor is the best source of information for questions and concerns related to your child's medical problem. Please consult our doctors in person or online using MaNaDr App. You can download MaNaDr App here.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice and readers are advised to seek advice from me personally.

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