Types of Depression in Teens
Dysthymia is a less severe type of depression that can be long-lasting. It can keep a person from functioning well, feeling good, or experiencing joy. Dysthymia often starts during childhood or adolescence.
With dysthymia, the child or adolescent is depressed for most of the day, on most days, and symptoms continue for several years. The average duration of a dysthymic period in teenagers is about four years.
Sometimes children with dysthymia are depressed for so long that they do not recognize their mood as being out of the ordinary. As a result, they may not complain of feeling depressed. Seventy percent of children and adolescents with dysthymia eventually experience an episode of major depression. When a combination of major depression and dysthymia occurs, the condition is referred to as double depression.
Bipolar DisorderBipolar disorder is the least common type of depression (also called manic-depressive illness or manic-depression). Bipolar disorder can occur anytime from childhood to old age. A person who is bipolar will have cycles of mood changes, alternating between mania (a severe high) to depression (a severe low).
During the depressed cycle, an individual can have any or all of the symptoms of depression. During the manic cycle, the individual may have a great deal of energy and be overactive and overtalkative. Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment. For example, the individual in a manic phase may feel elated and full of grand schemes that might range from unwise business decisions to romantic sprees. Mania, left untreated, may worsen to a psychotic state.
Reactive depression, also known as adjustment disorder with depressed mood, is the most common form of mood problem in children and adolescents. In children suffering from reactive depression, depressed feelings are short-lived and usually occur in response to some adverse experience, such as a rejection, a slight, a letdown, or a loss.
With reactive depression, a child may feel sad or lethargic and appear preoccupied for periods as short as a few hours or as long as two weeks. However, the child's mood improves with a change in activity or an interesting or pleasant event. These short-lived mood swings in reaction to minor events are not regarded as a form of mental disorder.