Extensive Impacts of Depression on American Teenagers and Young Adults: The Social and Academic ConsiderationsIntroductionDepression is the leading psychiatric disorder in the United States, with over 16% of the population reporting a major depressive episode during their lifetime (Kessler). Despite the effects of the illness being noticeably widespread, it manifests itself differently between adolescents and adults. A study of national trends led by Dr.
Ramin Mojtabai, an established member of the American College of Psychiatrists, found that the prevalence of teenagers who reported a major depressive episode spiked from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2014, exhibiting a 37% increase (Mojtabai et al). In spite of this noticeable growth, there has not been a corresponding increase in mental health treatment for adolescents and young adults to inhibit the spread of the disease. According to Larke Huang of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated “75% of children with emotional disorders are still not receiving specialty mental health services” (Huang et al), indicating that although depression is one of the world’s leading causes of morbidity, the paradox of mental health in America is that those who require support often fail to recognize the need for help.
The rising instances of depression in American teens and young adults indicates and calls for the recognition of the mental disorder as a major contributor to several academic and societal consequences.The Cohesive Manner of Academics and Depression With an estimate of nearly 50% of college students in the United States affected (Furr et al), depression is not only the most common disability in the nation, but one of the leading mental health conditions documented on college campuses across the country (Smith, Rosenstein, and Granass). Thus from an educational perspective, there are a number of academic implications and impacts that come with depression amongst students.
According to a study led by Barry J. Zimmerman, a professor of educational psychology at the City University of New York, a student’s self-perceived academic success can also define their personal beliefs about their capabilities within academic domains (Zimmerman, Bandura, and Martinez-Pons), showcasing how one such implication is that students tend to view their grades as crucial predictive factors determining self-worth (Crocker, Sommers, and Luthanen). Receiving poor grades or experiencing academic failures can also threaten to disrupt a student’s sense of self-worth, placing them at risk of developing depressive symptoms (Gable and Nezlek). Drawing from these sources, academic problems were cited as the most frequent cause of depression among students. Consequently, the overarching implication spirals down further and brings into the limelight a cycle of exacerbation where students are caught in a loop where their symptoms and academic failures continue to aggravate each other in a complicated, negatively intensifying relationship (Heiligenstein and Guenther).What can further be drawn from these conclusions is a need to support college system administrators to develop learning models for college faculty and staff.
Ineffective problem-solving abilities have been cited as significant predictors of depression (Blankstein, Flett, and Johnston), and is associated with poor study habits, and low semester grade-point averages (Elliot et al). With increased problem solving ability and support from others, students may experience greater efficiency with managing both academic and emotional stressors, especially since establishing clear lines of communication between students and faculty reduces the rate of lowered academic performance and other implications as adverse effects of depression (Deroma et al).The Link Between Academic Performance and Suicidal IdeationIt is also worth considering that academic performances can be viewed as a direct parallel to workforce performance, with students belonging to a set of individuals whose ability to perform is measured on a specific criterion. A study coordinated by researchers of the Department of Public Health Sciences in Stockholm found a positive gradient in the risk of lifetime suicidal thoughts coupled with decreasing academic performance among young adults, demonstrating a strong positive association between poor school performance and the risk of attempted and completed suicide later in life (Kosidou et al). As such, to continue on from a psychological perspective, the self-worth fixated on academic performance further constitutes into another ramification in which suicide rates are an indicator of depression among adolescents. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, suicide is the third leading cause of death among Americans between the ages of 15-24 (SAMHSA), and over 90% of those suicides are associated with mental illness.
It is important to establish that though suicidal behavior is complex to comprehend, there is a continuum that exists from ideation to completion, and that the risk of suicide increases with each year of adolescence (Keinhorst, De Wilde, and Diekstra). What can be concluded is that school failure appears to predict suicidal thoughts among adolescents and young adults that increase the tendency of acting upon suicidal ideations.Social Implications: Isolation and Substance AbuseLooking from a social perspective, a profile that is associated with depression can be expected to greatly influence the ability to feel the sense of social belonging and well-being.
According to a publication from the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, young people showing early-onset depression or depressive tendencies are at risk for adverse outcomes, especially the isolation from society which could eventually lead to substance abuse (Rao, Hammen and Daley; Robbins). Social information-processing found among people suffering from depression indicated that they were less likely to be able to acknowledge cues of acceptance and belonging in social interactions. This is seen explicitly in a number of laboratory studies conducted by the Department of Psychology at Stanford University, where clinically depressed people were shown to exhibit preferential attention to sad faces, adjectives, and emotions (Gotlib et al; Mogg, Bradley). As such, depressed people are more likely to pay attention to negative social interactions. When further emboldened by the fact that youths with depression have been frequent victims of bullying (Hamilton et al), it is made clear from the sources that depressed people appear to induce a negative effect in others. This, in turn, elicits rejection and the loss of socially rewarding opportunities, therefore causing social isolation (Coyne). Furthermore, social isolation can lead to substance abuse. According to the American Counseling Association, among youths aged 12 to 17 in 2009 who had past year MDE (major depressive episodes), “35.
7% used illicit drugs during the same period compared with 18% of youths who did not have past year MDE ” (SAMHSA). This shows that youths who experience major depressive symptoms in the past are more likely than those without to have used illicit drugs. Taking that into consideration, if social isolation is positively linked to adolescent depression and adolescent depression is positively linked to substance abuse, then the effects of social isolation on adolescent substance abuse may be mediated by its effects on adolescent depression. ConclusionYoung adults and teens experience a heightened risk of educational underachievement and social isolation as a result of depression, and in complexity, call for the recognition of the disorder being followed by a majority of academic implications, suicidal ideations and social implications. Schools have an important place alongside communities and health systems in responding to the problem of adolescent depression. Coupled with the fact that substance abuse alone costs the United States more than $484 billion per year (NIDA), some form of government intervention is necessary to combat the growing health concern and its implications among teens and young adults. Only the government can provide universal accessible treatment for no cost to the recipient.
Thus, responsibility is in the hands of those who are aware of this dilemma, to find a solution for teens and young adults with depression to live with the absolute degree of life, liberty, and happiness.