Depression in High School Students: When It Becomes a Concern

Depression, Mental Health | 0 comments

Depression is a highly common concern amongst high school students. With all the major milestones they experience in a short amount of time, it can be hard to determine what triggers depression in each individual. If you are concerned about the mental health of a high school student, whether your peer, child, or student, it may be time to seek mental health treatment options. 

Depression Rates in High School Students

Depression rates amongst high school students are a common cause for concern amongst parents and school districts. In Massachusetts, 44% of Boston public high school students were reported to have experienced feelings of sadness or hopelessness every day for two weeks or more. While resources are available to help high school students manage feelings of depression, it may be hard to recognize when a teen is suffering. It’s crucial to first recognize warning signs of depression in teens, such as fatigue, drops in academic performance, social withdrawal, lack of focus, loss of interest in usual activities, and more. 

Can Academic Stress Cause Depression?

There can often be a lot of pressure on high school students to strive for success in academics. Their grades help determine which colleges they can get accepted into while also causing them to feel that school performance may be shaping their future. But, too much academic pressure can lead to intense feelings of stress. According to a study from 2022, academic stress could have an indirect impact on depressive symptoms by means of anxiety symptoms and feelings of hopelessness. 

If you notice drops in academic performance or high stress in a high school student, encourage open communication to help recognize if there are concerning feelings of depression involved. Concerns over academic stress’ link to depression should be addressed using a mental health professional. You can also provide a strong support system for a high school student struggling with academic stress, including encouraging them to follow holistic healing practices, such as meditation, or offering to help them find the right tutor to guide them through their schoolwork. 

Bullying and Depression

Bullying is another common link for depression amongst high school students. Harsh criticism, either in person or online, can have a serious negative impact on a person’s mental health. Feelings of worthlessness, sadness, or hopelessness could be worsened through bullying. If you see someone getting bullied, make sure you report it to the right people to address the issue, or reach out to the student being bullied and offer them support. Isolation and loneliness due to bullying can also result in feelings of depression, which could only worsen over time if the bullying is not addressed. 

There are plenty of instances in which students may not express that they are being bullied. Staying vigilant on how your child or a student you know interacts with those around them is key to noticing signs of bullying. 

Social Media’s Impact on Depression in High School

Social media’s impact on mental health has become a growing concern since the advent of popular platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. These platforms make it harder to monitor how a teen interacts with their peers, and even strangers that they meet online. Being too interconnected can lead to fears of missing out as others post fun things that they are doing or post photos of large groups of friends. It creates a competitive atmosphere, in which there is pressure to keep up. 

Similar to academic stress, stress caused by social media could cause a detrimental impact on a teen’s ability to cope with depression. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can be exacerbated by seeing others interacting in social gatherings online. Missing out on major events is another cause for such emotions. Limiting your teen’s social media access can help relieve its impact on your child’s depression, especially as they are seeking treatment for depression

Recognizing Signs of Depression in High School Students

There are plenty of warning signs that can indicate depression in high school students, including:

  • Drop in academic performance
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Expressed feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Lack of attendance for extracurricular activities and sports
  • Fatigue
  • Anger or irritability
  • Stress or anxiety

If you notice drastic changes in your child’s behavior, it may be time to seek help from an outpatient treatment center or other mental health professional. For major depression, residential treatment centers offer overnight options, if you child needs to be monitored 24/7.

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