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Factors Associated Depression Essay, Research Paper

The Factor Associated with Adolescent Depression

By Crystal

Depression in youth is viewed as a significant problem that affects approximately 30% of the adolescent population (Lewinsohn, Hops, Roberts, Seeley, & Andrew) in the journal done by (McWhirter, McWhirter, & Gat 1996). It has been noted that nearly 17 million Canadians suffer from feelings of depression and twice as many women are affected (Fairbanks Psychiatric & Neurological Clinic 1998-2000). Depression is currently ranked fourth as a leading cause of disability afflicting people in the United States and around the world. By 2020 it will move up to rank second (Hart 1998). The article done by Hart (1998), found that the lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder in adolescents is 15-20% and 2% during childhood, and found that 7-9% of children would experience an episode of major depression before the age 14 and as many as 20% before leaving school. In the United Stated it has been found that roughly up to 2.5% of children and up to 8.3% of adolescents suffer from depression (National Institute of Mental Health 1999).

The symptoms, which are associated with depression, (which usually last anywhere from two to four weeks)(Franklin 2000) are; feelings of anxiety, loss of sleep, sleeping a lot during the day, the reluctance to leave bed, loss of appetite, loss of motivation, sadness and physical aches. These are just a few of many symptoms (Alexander 1999). The question then becomes what causes adolescents to become depressed. It is believed that the father/mother relationship and research indicates that the environment the child grows up in and as well as the genetic (chemical imbalances). In addition the factor of gender and age that influences the role of depression. It has been especially noted that the emotion a girl goes through during puberty contributes to some degree of depression (Silberg, Pickles, Rutter, Hewitt, Simonoff, Maes, Carbonneau, Murrell, Foley, Eaves 1999).

Before I begin discussing these factors associated with depression. I want to give some idea of what it is like to for adolescents to suffer from depression. Adolescents and anyone, who has suffered from depression, may have had the feeling that they are climbing up a mountain, but instead of going up the mountain they go down the mountain, with the feeling that they will never be able to go up. In the article be Azimi (1999); he stated that adolescents with depression have this negative outlook of the world, which in return sends a negative signal to their peers. Adolescents find it very difficult to keep up with social gatherings and keep intimate relationships with both parents as well as a significant other (Lasko, Field, Gonzalez, Harding, Yando, and Bendell 1996).

There is no doubt that the father/mother relationship and the child s environment that she/he grows up in are contributing factors with adolescent depression. There have been many studies conducted with depression that have found that there is a higher risk for children who have a parent with depression; especially if the mother is the one afflicted with the disease (Lasko et al. 1996). Children of parents with a major depressive disorder are 2 to 3 times more likely to have depression than parents that do not have a mental illness (Lapalme, Hodgins, LaRoche, 1997). Depressed children have described the family environment as being less supportive and more separated, with high levels of criticism and rejection (Stein, Williamson, Birmaher, Brent, Kaufman, Dahl, Perel, Ryan, 2000). In the same study Stein et al. (2000) found that depressed mothers describe their families as dysfunctional even when no signs of adolescent depression are present. Study conducted by Lasko et al. (1996) found in the study that twice as many fathers reported being unhappy in the family environment where the adolescent was depressed.

A study conducted to find what kind of relationship that that parents gave their children. Found that the mother s care was higher for boys , that the father s care was higher for girls. Overprotection was seen higher for girls than boys by both parents, this was seen to contribute to some degree to their depression (Enns, Cox, & Larsen 2000). It was also found in the study, that if the mother had depression she perceived her child as being negative, this in turn would cause the child to perceive him/herself as negative. With a parental history of depression Stein et al. (2000) noted that 56% of mothers and 34% of fathers had experienced an episode of major depression. It was also found in a study that 25% to 86% of spouses suffer from a mental disorder (Lapalme et al.1997).

The studies have shown that the relationships between the parents and the child are very crucial in the presence of depression. In 1999 Azimi wrote that children are very vulnerable during infancy and adolescence. They quickly pick up on the family s interaction with one another, whether it is a negative or positive interaction.

A factor that has not really been studied is the genetic and chemical components to adolescent depression. The studies held on genetic inheritance use fraternal or identical twins to determine genetic implications. A study done by Price (2000) found that identical twins have the same genetic code, a good indication as to whether genetics plays into adolescent depression. Price conducted a study questioning if one of the twins had depression what is the likelihood of the other to develop depression? He found that there is a 76% chance of the other twin developing depression. He than asked, if the twins lived separately, what were the chances of the other twin to develop depression? He found that there was a 67% chance of the other twin developing depression. Price than tested fraternal twins, who only have 50% same genetic code. The study showed that if one of the fraternal twins suffered from depression the likelihood of the other fraternal twin developing depression was 19%. The study can prove that depressive illnesses can run in families but whether or not children inherit a susceptibility to depression is still unclear (Price 2000).

Some research has suggested that there might be specific genes that could cause clinical depression to develop within certain families and not others (Silberg et. al 1999). The genetic research has indicated that depression is the result from the influence of multiple genes acting together within environmental factors (National Institute of Mental Health 1999). There has been also evidence that chromosome number 11 should be considered as a gene for a depressive illness, because of the enzyme catalyzes in the brain (Szatkowski 1999). Remember that just because a person may inherit a gene that influences their chance of developing depression does not mean they will have depression, they are just susceptible to developing depression (Price 1999). It has been found that the effect of genetic factors in adolescent girls accounts for approximately 28% to 30% of the overall differences in adolescent depression (Lapalme et. al 1997).

In the brain, there are naturally occurring substances called neurotransmitters. These are the chemical messengers, which carry electrical signals from one nerve cell in the brain to another. The neurotransmitters that play a significant role in maintaining our mood are serotonin and norepinephrine. When these neurotransmitters are in low levels, the symptoms of depression become clinically evident (Fairbanks Psychiatric & Neurological Clinic 2000). In Lepage and Steiner in the journal by (Szatkowski 1999), they hypothesized that serotonin insufficiency causes depression in women and violence in men. With the chemical imbalances medication is best way to treat depression when the children s brain neurotransmitters are not working efficiently.

The last factor that has been researched is the gender and ages differences seen in adolescent depression. In adolescents up to the age of 11, boys and girls are roughly at same rate for depression, but by age 18, females have twice the depressive rates for depression (Alexander 1999). Reason for this is that the hormonal develop during puberty changes the female moods towards environmental changes. In the National Institute of Mental Health stated in their newsletter that the hormonal system that regulates the body s response to stress, but if the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is overactive in result is symptoms of depression. In the newsletter they also suggested that the continual overactivation of this hormonal system might lay groundwork for depression (National Institute of Mental Health 1999). In the study by Szatkowski, he stated that the females reproductive hormones provide a general vulnerability to depression unlike males (1999). He also found that approximately 4% of all women report changes of sufficient severity of mood during they menstrual cycle.

The gender inequality shown in society, has also shown contributing signs of depression. For female adolescent in depression it is especially hard for them, because parents and the general society just assume depression is female moodiness (Alexander 1999). Alexander (1999) also stated in her report that early dating could put added pressures on early maturing females. Early dating was also seen to contribute to low self-esteem in females, because females during adolescents are known to worry about their weight, worry whether or not they are skinny enough or pretty enough in the eyes of society (Silberg et. al 1999). This is sad, but a true fact. For females breaking up with a boyfriend proved to be very depressing for them (Silberg et. al 1999). For males they are more focused on sports or education achievements, which can cause high stress levels in males (Alexander 1999). In 1999 Silberg stated that for boys failing to make a team or band, or losing a close friend through agreements seemed also to be tied with their depression.

In 1999 Szatkowski stated females response to depression is to focus on the negative emotions, which in turn just puts them deeper in depression. While men in the other hand use distracting responses to cope with their depression. Szatkowski (1999) also found evidence that female s experience more life events in their lifetime than the man does do. This could in turn explain why depression is higher in women. For adolescents it is known that girls gain their independence much later than boys do (Lasko et. al 1996). Girls in their families have more disclosing and more conflictual relationship with their parents, therefore receive closer monitoring that explain high levels of stress seen in the family (Sheeber Hops, Alpert, Davis, & Andrews 1997).

In conclusion with the research showing that father/mother relationships, the environments that the child grows up in, the genetic (chemical imbalances), and finally the sex and age are factors associated with adolescent depression. Prevention is than an important consideration than. In 1998 study held by Faranoe, he suggests that family doctors could screen families yearly for mental illnesses. Since major mental disorders do not develop before puberty, it would be useful to do more studies right before the puberty and right after (Lapalme 1997). Counselors and teacher should get more involved and watch for symptoms of depression in adolescent, since children spend most or there childhood in school (Alexander 1999).

I think families need to become more aware of the symptoms of depression and set aside the feelings of this cannot happen to me or my child , because reality is that it does happen. Depression can happen even to the happiest people and depression is unique to each individual.

The journals I collected were very well organized and easy explained. Some journals though were very scientific and not many facts, which I was looking for, but at the same time I found the information I collected very interesting and educational. I found searching for the journals online the hardest, because the worldwide web is enormous with million documents containing certain information. The knowledge I have gained from these journals has given me a better understanding of the factors associated with adolescent depression.


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