Understanding Teen Depression

Depression can affect anyone

Depression can affect anyone

Carsyn Hall

Understanding Teen Depression
Part 1 of a 3 part series
Carsyn Hall

Megan Shinnick was an excellent student who never lacked positivity or energy. However, those traits couldn’t outshine the depression in her. In her junior year of high school, she started not answering her phone for a week, racking up absences in her classes, and failing to get out of bed in the morning. Her family didn’t understand her change of character.

Adolescent depression is misunderstood because it’s often mislabeled or shrugged off. The reality is that depression is a disease that can affect any age, and research shows that approximately 20% of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood, according to suicide.org.

In Shinnick’s February 2015 Ted Talk Youth, she reflects on who she used to be as she sat on her hospital bed, diagnosed with clinical depression. It’s common for people to say, “you have nothing to be sad about,” or, “you always seem so happy, how could you have depression?” As Shinick states, “Depression isn’t the emotion of sadness, it’s the state of being below neutrality. Happiness comes and goes just as sadness does, but depression doesn’t leave.” This mental illness is a profound sadness that affects day to day life.

Teenage years are assumed to be filled with years of happy memories, Stanford Children’s Health states that around 11% of young adults will have experienced an episode of depression by the end of his or her teenage years. This mental illness can be brought on by different causes that teens struggle with everyday, including abuse or neglect, social media, divorce, stress, trauma, harassment, and other issues. In these situations, teens feel like it’s out of their control, which provokes feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Even if teenagers don’t experience extreme challenges, they could still suffer from depression. The disease can be passed down through family history. Studies from U.S. News prove that children of depressed parents will inherit the disease. 11% of kids are depressed if the father is depressed, 19% if the mother is depressed, and 25% if both parents are depressed. Other factors play a role in depression, including social environment and medical conditions.

Though teens go through development phases in which signs of depression can be deemed a phase, or blamed on hormones, depression should never be underestimated or pushed aside. As Megan Shinnick states, “Depression in our society is not obvious when you are walking down the street or the hallway, but one google search will show you that a study conducted in this spring, 16 million Tumblr blogs, containing pictures, videos, and text posts, were of teenagers hurting themselves due to depression.”