Adolescence and Depression
This week, The AMERICA’S ANGEL Campaign welcomed Dr Sheryl Feinstein to its Advisory Board. Dr Feinstein is a Professor for the Department of Education at Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is also the Author of several books: Secrets of the Teenage Brain; Inside the Teenage Brain; Parenting a Work in Progress; 101 Insights and Strategies for Parenting Teenagers; and Healthy Learning.
A quote from her book, Secrets of the Teenage Brain, was posted on our facebook page a couple of days ago:
“Adolescence is a time of startling growth and streamlining in the brain, enabling teens to think abstractly, speak expressively, and move gracefully. During the teenage years they learn how to balance and manage their emotions.”
Our fans responded. One woman spoke of her teenage son: “My son is 19. So unhappy and so sad…..very depressed If any one knows a good book for him to read please he needs help. He was seeing [a counselor]. To me it didn’t work. I think [it] is more than that. He has no friends. He doesn’t leave the house. Sometimes I have to make him go out. He’s losing a lot of weight. Ugh! I don’t know what else to do. I was thinking getting him some books – but what books?? Help!”
Dr Feinstein has taken the time to respond. For all parents of teenagers, whether depressed or not, this is great advice:
“In general, it is normal for teens to have a more depressed spirit than adults. However, from what you describe your son is suffering from a deeper depression, one that should be taken very seriously. It’s clear from your posts that you care deeply for your son and are searching for ways to help him. Someone recommended taking him to a physician to rule out any physical concerns – great idea. Following the physician, an appointment with a counselor that works with teens is in order, hopefully you can find a competent therapist in your community. A combination of anti-depressant medication and therapy are very effective.
To give a bit of background on the connection between depression and adolescence, depression is highly correlated with puberty. Teenagers have low levels of serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter that counters the emotional amygdala. Therefore, they are more likely to feel agitated. Additionally, once areas of the brain associated with depression are activated they become very influential and make it difficult for the person to not focus on negative thoughts; they play them over and over in their mind.
Someone else mentioned balance of emotion. During the teenage years we see high levels of emotion, much of this has to do what is going on in their brains. For instance, teenagers rely on the emotional part of their brain, the amygdala, while adults rely on the frontal lobes, the area of the brain associated with decision making and problem solving. Therefore, it is no wonder that we see more verbal and physical aggression, moodiness, and tears from teens than from adults. This is a description of only one of the elements in the teen brain that puts them at risk for high emotion.”
Thank you Dr Feinstein, for the excellent information.
We also have a page, entitled Teenager’s Plea, which gets inside the mind of a teenager to help parents understand their needs.
AMERICA’S ANGEL welcomes your comments, questions or concerns.