Unfortunately, many people suffer from the effects of depression. It affects the daily lives of those who are dealing with it. Sometimes, it even co-occurs with addiction, leading to even more intense symptoms and effects. It’s important for those who are struggling with depression to get help from compassionate professionals.

What is Depression and Who Does it Affect? 

Depression is a mental disorder that changes the way someone thinks, acts and feels. It affects an individual’s hippocampus, amygdala and prefrontal cortex areas of the brain and causes negative feelings and thoughts by raising cortisol levels. This can lead to side effects like negative body image, social seclusion and, in severe cases, harmful acts like suicide. 

Within the U.S., depression disorders are running rampant. Researchers believe approximately 17.3 million American adult and 1.9 million children ages 3-17 suffer from depression every year. That averages about 7.1% of all American citizens.

Different Types of Depression

There are seven common types of depression that can affect an individual so severely that they can require treatment to help understand and overcome the disorder. Those types include:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): this is what licensed professionals deem “clinical depression.”  
  • Postpartum Depression: Because pregnancy hormones are so different than regular hormones women experience on a daily basis, they can affect a woman’s mental health to the point of severe confusion and hallucination.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Depression, sleepiness and weight gain that occurs during months of cold weather but then goes away once the weather becomes warmer outside.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PMDD): Also known as dysthymia, this disorder means individual experiences more “depressed days” than normal days during a 2 year period.
  • Bipolar Disorder: A mood disorder characterized by periods of “mania.” Individuals who suffer from this disorder can experience happiness one minute and rage the next with no explanation.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Severe versions of premenstrual syndrome symptoms like mood swings and food cravings.
  • Atypical Depression: Depression that is unpredictable. Individuals may experience this type of depression until a positive event in their life is approaching and then the symptoms will go away.

Signs of Depression

If you believe your teenager is suffering from depression, there are some key symptoms to look out for. Some of the telltale symptoms include but are not limited to: 

  • Fatigue
  • Apathy
  • Purposelessness
  • Intense sadness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Guilt or shame
  • Lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Difficulty with focus or concentration
  • Sleeping problems (insomnia or excessive sleeping)
  • Changes in appetite (causing weight fluctuations)

Depression can cause serious feelings of doubt and guilt because of the way someone struggling with the disorder feels. Individuals who suffer from depression struggle with realizing that their disorder is not their fault. More times than not, depression comes from outside sources and situations that have affected a person’s mental stability instead of something they have inflicted on themselves.

In order to come to terms with their emotions and thoughts, some depressed individuals choose to acknowledge their disorders and seek professional help and medication. Although this is a healthy way to deal with depression, some individuals choose a different path. 

It is very possible someone will use substances like alcohol to help numb the pain and confusion they feel. Because of this, they will often times become addicted to alcohol and require it in everyday life.

Depression in Teens vs. Adults

There are many factors that go into why an individual might develop depression, and it affects everyone differently. When comparing depression in adults to depression in teenagers, there are enormous differences.  

For starters, most brains develop until an individual is in their early 20’s, so adults don’t have to worry about changing brain function causing their depression. Because teenagers’ brains are still developing, the receptors inside can become damaged through physical activities or just on its own. When these neurotransmitters inside the brain are unable to transmit brain signals the way they’re supposed to, the individual affected could potentially develop mental illness due to “faulty signals.” 

Hormones also have a large effect on the development of depression in the teenage years because they are constantly changing the balance. This is could trigger depression in a teen due to the way their hormones make them feel happy, sad or mad one minute and a completely different mood the next. Adult hormones, unless ill, pregnant or going through menopause, level off around the same time their brains fully develop. Because of this, changes in hormonal balances aren’t usually the cause of adult depression.

Specialized Treatment for Teens

The reason the specialized treatment is needed for teenagers with depression is that they’re still developing both physically and mentally. In order for them to receive the level of treatment they need, they must have a specific treatment plan made for their still-developing bodies. The positive of this is that they are sometimes able to grow out of their depression because they’re constantly changing.

Doctors who work with teenage depression oftentimes recommend that they go through what’s known as “psychotherapy” first. Psychotherapy includes programs like individual therapy and cognitive behavior evaluations. This gives the specialists more of an idea of what has caused the depression and how to go about treating it in the most effective way.

With depression, medication is usually prescribed as a way to help the teen cope with their symptoms. These medications work with the neurotransmitters in the brain to change the cognitive processes. When given to teens to help with their depression, these medications are heavily monitored because they can cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Different Levels of Care

There are three main types of centers that teens suffering from depression can be checked into to receive treatment. These include outpatient, intensive outpatient, and residential services. The severity of an addiction someone is facing will determine the intensity of treatment that doctors will recommend. 

The two most common treatments are outpatient and residential inpatient services. Residential inpatient treatment is the highest level of treatment available. It is what people typically associate with the word “rehab.” This type of care is generally best for anyone with a more severe addiction problem. Patients in a residential program spend long lengths of time in a treatment facility. Medical professionals monitor them around the clock to ensure their safety, as well.

Outpatient services, both regular and intensive, are different from residential treatment. Regular outpatient attendees can attend school and work on a regular basis to support their families or achieve a degree. They maintain a somewhat “normal” lifestyle while attending treatment in their off time. This level of care is usually best for someone who has already completed residential treatment. Intensive outpatient treatment requires more hours of therapy. IOP patients usually live in a residence where there are other individuals going through the same struggle with addiction that they are.

What is Dual Diagnosis and Why is it Important?

There are many causes of depression. But what if another disorder is the root of what’s driving your teenager to become depressed? When a young adult develops an addiction disorder to things like drugs and alcohol, the substance can gradually start to disrupt signals within the brain. Teenagers’ brains are still changing and growing. So, this disruption is a lot more likely to happen which is what leads to the depression to develop. A dual diagnosis treatment will then be necessary in order to overcome depression.

People who have a dual diagnosis have both a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder at the same time. It does not matter which disorder develops first. It is, however, important for both disorders to receive equal recognition in order to start the treatment process. By acknowledging that both disorders are present, it gives professionals a better sense of what treatment plan to follow.

Dual diagnosis treatment is based on integrated intervention. When a person has a dual diagnosis, it’s important for him or her to get treatment that addresses both disorders. Treatment starts with getting patients the help they need with their substance abuse. In order to work on their depression, they must first become sober. After the initial detoxification, the individual must remain in supportive housing to slowly regain a normal lifestyle. This also allows people to surround themselves with like-minded people who are struggling with similar situations. This helps them realize they are not alone in their journey.

When teenage depression and substance abuse disorders are diagnosed at the same time, they have a higher likelihood of making a full recovery. This also lowers their chances of relapsing back into their old ways once treatment is complete.

Finding the Right Fit

When considering finding teen rehab and depression treatment for your child, it is important to look at all the factors and benefits of many different treatment facilities. There are many different centers out there with both pros and cons. It is important to look into if the center is able to specifically treat “teen depression,” or if it is above the cost you’re willing to spend. The main thing you want to remember when choosing a facility is that they have great reviews and successful cases of helping teens fight and overcome their depression.

For more information about addiction treatment, therapy for depression, and help for dual diagnosis, contact us here at Discovery Institute. Just call (844) 433-1101 today.



Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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