It isn’t always easy to figure out whether a teen is simply in the throws of adolescent moodiness or is depressed. We have to rely on observing changes in behavior and looking for symptoms that fit depression.
Picking up on teen depression is important because it can lead to suicide, substance abuse, physical illness and more if untreated. Approximately, 25% of teens and young adults suffer from major depression.
A fascinating new study involving teen depression was recently reported. The study was conducted at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Eva Redei, co-author of the study has been working in a rat lab to find genetic markers for depression. Based on the work of her team, they were able to develop a test that looks for markers in the blood associated with teen depression. Specifically, the researchers found 26 biomarkers for major depression.
Twenty-eight teens participated in the study, ages 15 to 19; half of the teens were diagnosed with depression and half were not. The depressed teens shared 11 markers of depression.
This is the first time a blood test has been developed to diagnose depression. The researchers hope the blood test will help towards early identification of depression in teens so that treatment and prevention will be possible. We’ve never had this before. And they also hope this discovery will take a bit of the stigma out of being diagnosed with depression. Less stigma may mean more teens will seek treatment.
While this is exciting news, it doesn’t replace the need for a comprehensive evaluation by a competent mental health provider. The study also doesn’t address the bigger need to get at the underlying issues associated with depression. And since there are many different types of depression, it certainly doesn’t help depression that is brought on by lifestyle, relational and environmental issues. Truth is, you can have a predisposition to many conditions like depression, but it is the mix of genetics, environment and biology that matter.
The good news is that depression is very treatable. Look for the signs of teen depression and get help! My small booklet pictured above will help you understand depression from both a spiritual and psychological perspective. It includes signs, treatments and scripture to help.