How much do you know about Adolescent Depression?

Text on screen: Understanding the causes and symptoms of Depression

Host: I have been in a bad mood recently. I lost my appetite, couldn't sleep well, and there is just something that doesn't seem right. I wonder if I am suffering from Depression? How much do teens nowadays know about Depression? Let's find out in a street interview!

Text on screen: When talking about Depression, you will think of...

Student 1: Someone having no friends, being lonely, inflicting self-harm.

Student 2: An introvert comes from a broken family, losing temper easily, generally being negative and pessimistic.

Student 3: Dwells in the past and feeling worthless.

Student 4: They always seem to be scared, and hide problems in a way like they are trying to bury them in the ground.

Text on screen: Why do some teens suffer from Depression?

Student 1: Pressure from studies! Parents nowadays always expect us to get into universities, but getting in is not a certain thing!

Student 4: Usually those people with Depression are not cared for at home, or being neglected at school. They feel lost. They don't get the attention they need.

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Not being CARED for at home
Being NEGLECTED at school
Feeling LOST
They don't get the attention they need

Student 1: When I want to spend time on things I'm passionate about, my parents say things like “what's the point in learning this?”, and that really hurts. It seems that there is nothing else in life other than studying, so it's really hard not feeling depressed.

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Don’t learn “Useless” things!
Focus on your studies! Don’t do anything else!
It's really hard not feeling depressed

Host: Stephanie, what is Depression actually? What causes this illness?

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Department of Health, Student Health Service
Clinical Psychologist
Ms. Stephanie Lam

Ms. Lam: Depression is a common mental illness. To understand it, first we need to know the symptoms. If the following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period and there is a change from previous functioning, then it is likely that one is suffering from Depression.

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The following symptoms have been present during the same 2-week period
Depressed mood or irritability
Loss of interest in all or most activities
Significant weight loss or weight gain and change in appetite
Psychomotor agitation or retardation
Fatigue or loss of energy

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Represent a change from previous functioning
Insomnia or hypersomnia
Diminished ability to think or concentration or indecisiveness
Feeling of worthlessness, guilt or hopelessness
Recurrent thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Ms. Lam: There are different risk factors for Depression, such as genetic, biochemical, psychological, environmental factors and stress.

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Environmental Factors and Stress

Host: I have heard that Depression can run in families so that some people will be at increased risk. Is that true?

Ms. Lam: That is correct. As for the physiological aspect of the illness, changes in brain neurotransmitters or hormonal imbalance can trigger Depression. Alcohol abuse and substance abuse are also related to Depression. Certain psychological factors ……People who are anxious, rigid, perfectionistic and pessimistic may be prone to depression.

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Host: So an example would be when I score 80 on an exam and feel satisfied, whereas some of my friends who have overly high standards, may criticize themselves even when scoring 90s.
Ms. Lam: That is one of the common situations. Stress and Depression are closely related. Our body would produce excessive stress hormone when we are overwhelmed by stress over a period of time, which is harmful to the brain function. Therefore, adverse experience in early life and ongoing pressures stemming from studies, family and interpersonal relationships may trigger Depression.

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Interpersonal relationships

Host: So Depression might actually affect a lot more people than we expect?

Text on screen: Anyone can suffer from Depression.

Ms. Lam: That is correct. Anyone can suffer from Depression. Even a person from a good family, who does great in school and is generally successful can be depressed for their own reasons. The earlier the depressed persons get help, the more likely and faster they can recover.

Text on screen: The earlier the depressed persons get help, the more likely and faster they can recover.

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Acknowledgment: Sha Tin Government Secondary School participated in the focus group discussion on adolescent depression, the content in the discussion was partially extracted to the video

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Department of Health
Student Health Service