There are many mental changes in adolescence that happen that can impact self-esteem and also can contribute to teen depression. Research paper topics on these subjects center around adolescent psychology, both in terms of mental health and sociology.
New technology, particularly social media, is also changing the stresses associated with the teen years and is worth investigating in more depth.
Identifying teen depression
Diagnosing teen depression can be tricky, but it is important. According to Dr. Nandini Mani’s post, “Would you know if your teen was depressed?”, for Harvard Medical School’s Health blog on March 24, 2016, the rate of depression for children 12 to 18 in the United States is estimated to be around 8%. Mani wrote, “That means that about one out of every 12 teens will experience an episode of major depression in his or her teenage years!”
Family doctors can screen for depression as well as other mental changes in adolescence that may occur during a routine physical by asking a few simple questions. Signs to look for include sadness or hopelessness, withdrawal from friends and family, loss of interest in activities and/or poor school performance. Research paper topics could delve further into long-term ramifications of teen depression for later in life, as well as how changes in adolescence self-esteem impact the mental health of teenagers.
Studying mental changes in adolescence
Teen depression is an area that researchers want to learn more about to be able to better combat the problem, however, studying such mental changes in adolescence present a unique dilemma according to an article by Marc Wilson for the New Zealand Listener on September 9, 2016. The concern is that by asking about teen depression and self-esteem, researchers may intensify an existing issue or create a problem that wasn’t there to begin with. However, in “The difficulty at the heart of studying depression, anxiety and self-injury” Wilson wrote, “young people surveyed about self-injury were no more likely to immediately (or at a weeks-later follow-up) report such behaviour than a comparison group asked about emotions but not self-injury.”
Research paper topics could address not only the stigma that still surrounds issues of mental health, including teen depression, but also how these issues need to be handled differently for different age groups. While many of the symptoms of adult and teen depression are similar, young people may have more physical manifestations, such as headaches, stomachaches and dizziness.
Social media and self-esteem
Changes in our world, such as the rise of social media, are also playing a new and important role in teen depression. Issues of self-esteem are a natural part of adolescence for most young people, but Facebook and other social media outlets have perhaps increased how the common mental changes in adolescence are dealt with.
In “Teenage Girls and Fears about Social Media” by Anna North, for the March 3, 2016, edition of the International New York Times, North discusses a book, American Girls. Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, by Nancy Jo Sales. The book focuses on how female teenagers deal with the issue of social media and its impact on self-esteem, but neglects the opposite sex. North found this problematic and asked, “Do boys, too, feel pressure to present a certain image — maybe that of a player who’s talking to lots of girls? … Do they ever feel guilty about how they treat girls on social media? What, if anything, might get them to change?” Research paper topics to pursue include if boys and girls deal with social media in adolescence differently, as well as how each sex handles issues of self-esteem in the teen years.
In addition to social media, do you think there are new societal pressures that contribute to teen depression that didn’t exist 20 or 50 years ago? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.