Depression is a clinical condition categorised by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as being short-lasting and severe known as a Major Depression Disorder (MDD) or long-lasting but less severe known as Dysthymia Disorder (DD).
The onset of a Major Depressive Disorder in teens usually manifests through the teen displaying irritability, low mood or loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities for at least 2 weeks continuously. Because Major Depression occurs in short bouts with periods of feeling fine in between, this could easily be mistaken for typical teenage behaviour. However, it is important to note that the signs and symptoms associated with a Major Depressive episode are very severe, even by the standards of common teenage behaviour. Therefore it is important not to be misdirected when the teen appears to be okay for periods in between.
Dysthymia Disorder on the other hand does not occur in bouts, but is experienced by the teen for a continuous period of time. However, unlike Major Depression, Dysthymia is characterised by a low level of depressed mood. Teenagers who experience this type of depression are often labelled as 'moody' as a characteristic of their personalities. While this may be typical of most teenagers, it is important to look out for other signs and symptoms associated with depression, such as a pervasive sense of hopelessness. While the severity of depressed mood is not as bad as Major Depression, the pervasiveness of low mood can aggravate feelings of helplessness and hopelessness typically experienced in depression.
Another type depression that is directly associated with stressful life changes is know as Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood. Change is a major characteristic of the teenager's life stage, which is why this form of depression is so common in teenagers. It is important to recognise the high value placed on certain occupations in a teenager's life. Even changing schools can be highly stressful to a teenager. A resilient teenager will find adaptive ways to cope with the stress of major change, whereas a maladaptive reaction to change results can result in an adjustment disorder.
Statistics show that teenagers who experience depression or depressed mood have an increased risk of developing another mental condition with depressive elements known as Bipolar Disorder. This disorder is also commonly known as Manic-Depressive Disorder because it is characterised by sudden swings between intense depression and bursts of extreme activity and energy.