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Depression And Students

Teenagers are fraught with an abundance of internal and external pressures throughout their entire adolescence.


Every individual is unique and although there are vague guidelines for when certain developmental milestones should be met, each person does so at his or her own pace. This is true for infancy, adolescence and into adulthood. This notion, however, is commonly disregarded for teenagers, and they are often held to attainable expectations (either self-inflicted, externally imposed, or a combination). Teenagers are often treated as adults and expected to behave as adults, but do not have the brain maturity to enable them to do so. The frontal cortex of the brain is not yet fully formed until a person reaches age twenty-five, at the earliest. This area of the brain is responsible for problem solving, decision making, rational thought processes and more. Due to the fact that the frontal cortex of teenagers is underdeveloped, they innately rely on the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for emotions. Hence, teenagers are innately inclined to make decisions and react from an emotional standpoint, not a rational standpoint. This can make navigating all the pressures of adolescence incredibly challenging, especially as they relate to progressing through formal education. 


There are many different types of mental illnesses, some more common than others. Depression is one of the most frequent mental health illnesses that teenagers experience. It is normal for young people to feel overwhelmed, anxious and upset, at times, but when those emotions become debilitating he or she may be struggling with more than just typical teenage angst. Depression is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as major depressive disorder, and is sometimes referred to as clinical depression. It is characterized by persistent and intrusive depressive moods, and/ or a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities resulting in significant impairment in daily life. 


Students that struggle with depression will have varied symptoms, and will be affected differently. Although depression can occur at any time in a person’s life, the symptoms are commonly exhibited by young people may differ from those exhibited by adults. Some examples of symptoms that may manifest in a young person struggling with depression can include the following examples:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Irritable
  • Crying spells
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Changes in appetite
  • Loss of energy
  • Poor personal hygiene practices
  • Angry outbursts
  • Social isolation
  • Overly self-critical 
  • Drop in academic performance 

The severity of the symptoms exhibited will differ from student to student. It is very challenging to distinguish the difference between the typical teenage seesaw of emotions and teenage depression. The symptoms of depression can lessen with proper mental health treatment. Nowadays, there are countless therapeutic methods to help a teenager learn effective symptom management strategies and healthy coping mechanisms to navigate depression. 

How Depression Affects Students

The pressures of being a student can bring many ups and downs for young people. For many teenagers experiencing the lows that accompany adolescence are temporary. Teenagers that struggle with depression, however, will be unable to bounce back from the lows as quickly or easily as a young person that does have depression. A teenage struggling with depression can face complications including:

  • Relationship difficulties
  • Alcohol and/ or drug misuse
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Family conflicts
  • Failing grades in school 
  • Dismissal from sports teams
  • Truancy 

Common teenage issues such as peer pressures, changing bodies, and academic expectations can all contribute to the severity of a teen’s symptoms. Depression, is a mental disorder, and in no way implies weakness, nor is it something that can be overcome without proper help. Without treatment, the symptoms of depression will worsen, and in some cases could lead to the development of other problems. 

For Information and Support 

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know is in need of mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769.

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