teenage boy with face in hand depressed


You don’t have to live with that dark cloud hanging over your life

The Basics of Depression

Depression is a term used so often in our culture, it might seem easy to dismiss. But it’s is a very real issue that can seriously impact a person’s quality of life — especially if it appears during the teen years. What does it look like? In some people, it’s a persistent unhappiness, an ongoing sense of hopelessness or a loss of interest or pleasure in enjoyable activities. In others, it may present as persistent insomnia, oversleeping, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, or anxiety. When people experience depression, there may be a combination of factors involved, including genetics, trauma, or hormonal shifts. What might seem like moderate depression symptoms can, over time, evolve into severe or clinical depression, which can become debilitating if not professionally treated.

The Stats on Teen and Depression

Depression: Beyond Sadness

While everyone experiences sadness at times in their lives, clinical depression goes beyond that experience. It’s an ongoing sadness and hopelessness that doesn’t seem to lift. Along with it comes a significant loss of interest in activities and engaging in relationships, a defeatist attitude, and even thoughts of suicide.

So how does it all start? Depression typically begins with or in the wake of a childhood trauma, a traumatic event, a significant life stressor, or with major hormonal shifts or deficiencies in the body. But it can also arrive as a side effect of certain medications or the use of drugs or alcohol, or ride sidecar with other mental health conditions. It can be hard to pinpoint an exact cause, but genetic, biological, and environmental factors can all play a role in the development of clinical depression.

depressed teenage boy scrolling on cell phone

Between 2016 and 2020, the number of children 3-17 diagnosed with anxiety grew by 29% and those with depression by 27%.

Source: JAMA Pediatrics (2022)

Depression: The End Game

Depression is a serious illness that results from a chemical imbalance in the body and brain. But because the adolescent years are often difficult and stressful on many levels,  it’s not always easy to diagnose. If left untreated, depression can be a major roadblock in your life, affecting not only your physical and mental health, but also social activity, relationships, and ability to succeed in school. People who are depressed often tend to isolate themselves, increasing the risk of self-harm or even suicide.

Signs of Depression

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, when you or someone you love experiences symptoms of depression, you’ll see some of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Feeling empty, hopeless, or pessimistic about life
  • Feeling guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Problems concentrating or making decisions
  • Disturbance in sleeping pattern, such as restlessness or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Irritability
  • Headaches, digestive issues, or muscle aches that have no discernable physical cause and are not helped by treatment

Treatment for Depression

Depression has been on the rise in children and adolescents for over a decade, but the COVID pandemic and all the stress and uncertainty that came with it escalated a growing concern into a national mental health crisis. Add to that the stat that almost 50% of people diagnosed with depression also have an anxiety disorder, and the problem is compounded. Fortunately, depression can be treated with great success, and medication is only the beginning.

There are several effective medications that allow the brain to retain higher levels of serotonin for a more balanced brain function. These medications include:

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • selective serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
sad teenage boy in hallway at school

Medication can play a key role in decreasing the symptoms of depression, making it possible to participate in other forms of treatment. Those with chronic or severe depression may need to take medication in conjunction with and after completing therapy. Each person’s case is different, and it may take time to find which medication works best for you.

Our Other Treatment Methods

In addition to assistive medications, The Meadows Adolescent Center is committed to addressing any contributing factors to lessen depression symptoms. We offer a wide array of therapeutic approaches to help adolescents work through depression, including:

  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), which helps adolescents identify and modify negative thought and behavior patterns  
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which emphasizes acceptance as a way to deal with negative thoughts, feelings, symptoms, or circumstances
  • Internal Family Systems (IFS), a powerfully transformative, evidence-based model of psychotherapy

These approaches, among others, are designed to empower those suffering from depression to process trauma, cope with negative feelings, and learn new tools to build healthier behavior patterns.

The Meadows Adolescent Center also offers outdoor and experiential treatment options to re-engage and empower teens struggling with depression, allowing us to treat the whole person, building a roadmap for lasting, long-term recovery.

Nature in Morristown, AZ

Finding the Right Fit

Need more information to determine if what we offer fits your needs? Our skilled admissions specialists can help. They will walk you through the process, answering any questions you have along the way.