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Why Do Teenagers Get Depressed?

Adolescence is a stage of life when teenagers go through a period of uncertainty and confusion as they try to find their feet and establish their independence. Everything seems in a state of flux - their moods, their bodies, and their relationships with family and friends. They are painfully conscious of their maturing bodies. They feel socially inept. They swing wildly between being shy and embarrassed to brash and rebellious in a bid to disguise their insecurities and confusion. Most teenagers emerge unscathed or maybe with just a few nicks and bruises. But there are others who just cannot cope with the tumult of emotions and they fall into a depression. 

Depression is an all-encompassing gloom that envelops every aspect of a person's existence. It is different from the sadness one feels when one thinks of a rift within the family or the unhappiness associated with the failure to get into the university of your choice. Depression is not a mood or a phase. A depressed person feels that there is something fundamentally wrong with him and his life. He feels incapable of handling the smallest problems. He feels that nothing ever goes his way and that may be he doesn't deserve to be happy. 

Signs of depression

Defeatist attitude: Depressed teenagers feel that they are destined to fail at anything that they attempt. They take failure personally seeing it as being directly related to their personalities rather than to anything they might have done. For instance, if they are snubbed at a party by an acquaintance, they will assume that it is because they are boring and not worth knowing. A normal teenager would just shrug it off and move on to the next person. As a result of this defeatist attitude, depressed teenagers rarely make the effort to do anything because they believe that they will fail anyway. 

Impulsive behaviour: Teenagers affected by depression also tend to act on impulse. They feel that since they have no control over their circumstances and cannot seem to find a solution to any of their problems, they should do something and then forget about it. 

Socially withdrawn: A depressed teenager is often withdrawn and antisocial because he feels that nobody would want him around. He feels that he has nothing of interest to say and does not have the necessary social skills to make him well-liked. He will avoid volunteering for any group activities assuming that he will be a burden and that he has nothing of value to contribute. 

Uncomfortable sharing personal information: Teenagers afflicted with depression are uncomfortable talking about themselves because they think that the listener will judge them and find them wanting in every way. They do not want to open themselves up to any possible disapproval or criticism, which they take for granted as being forthcoming. 

Psychosomatic illnesses: Depression can result in a teenager displaying psychosomatic symptoms like dizzy spells, headaches, stomachaches, etc. in an attempt to garner some sympathy. They feel that this is the only way they can get some positive attention. Their supposed indisposition can also get them out of uncomfortable situations that they may not want to face.

Wants to be someone else: A teenager is usually depressed because he doesn't like the person he is. He attributes all his problems to some basic flaw in his personality. Often he looks at his peers, especially the popular ones, and wishes he looked like them or had their money or their intelligence, which would guarantee that people would like him and find him interesting. 

Part 2 - Helping your Teenager Overcome Depression

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