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Why More Students Than Ever Are Struggling with Depression

TMS Towson Experts Discuss Why an Increasing Number of Students Are Developing Depression

Even before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing number of middle school, high school, and college students had begun to grapple with depression and anxiety. While some people like to blame smartphones and the internet for an increase in depression rates among students, the issue often digs much deeper than that. Everything from the prevalence of unhealthy fast food to increased pressure to excel past their peers to feelings of uncertainty toward the future could be behind this issue.

That’s why TMS Towson experts — the Psych Associates of Maryland — is breaking down the causes and risk factors for depression in students today. 

Current Data on Rates of Depression in Students

Learn the Current Statistics Regarding Depression in Students by TMS Towson Experts

person carrying backpack

Depression is a serious mental health condition that is different from the normal feelings of sadness that everyone experiences once in a while. This mental health disorder often interferes with a person’s ability to perform basic activities such as eating or completing their homework. It is typically characterized by persistent anxiety or feelings of hopelessness, difficulty concentrating, rebellious behavior, or withdrawing from loved ones. 

Statistics on Depression in Today’s Youth

Recent research studies from the Pew Research Center have found alarming trends regarding teen depression. For instance:

  • In 2017, 13% of U.S. teens aged 12 to 17 reported experiencing at least one major depressive episode from that year. This is statistic shows an 8% increase in major depressive episodes from a 2007 survey. 
  • Female teenagers are three times more likely to develop depression than males. 
  • Adults with depression are treated at higher rates than teens who have experienced depression. 
  • Teenagers struggling with depression may also grapple with anxiety issues and substance abuse as well. 

Depression in Teenagers vs. Adults

Teenagers with depression may show different symptoms than adults. For instance, adolescents might act more moody and irritable. Or they could begin to isolate themselves from the adults in their lives. Symptoms can also vary according to gender. Females typically report feelings of worthlessness and guilt while males often struggle with irritability and suicidal thoughts. 

What Are the Risk Factors for Depression?

Possible Causes Behind the Increase in Depression Among Adolescents

female student in graduation regalia

There are numerous possibilities behind why there is an increase in depression among youth today. Many experts argue that there are some common themes they have found in their research indicate that:

  • Unrealistic body expectations published on social media may have a negative effect on impressionable teens
  • Growing up in a post-9/11 world has instilled feelings of fear and uncertainty in today’s youth
  • Teens who aren’t getting enough sleep from too much studying or are dealing with a heavy extracurricular load are vulnerable to growing depressed and moody

Let’s explore each of these factors in detail. 

Increased Emphasis on Living the Perfect Life from Social Media

When it comes to social media, most people only post the highlights of their lives. People are more likely to post images of themselves out at the bars with friends when they are having the time of their lives than when they are alone and feeling down. 

However, not everyone remembers this. Instead, they sometimes begin comparing themselves to other while worrying about being left out by their friends. People who let themselves become too engrossed in these social media posts can experience a decline in their mental health. That’s why it is important to take a step back from social media once in a while and to also remember that not everyone you see on social media is a completely accurate representation of another person’s life. 

Living in Times of Uncertainty

Not only are today’s adolescents living in a post-9/11 world, but they are also currently dealing with a pandemic that most people have not dealt with either. Dealing with an uncertain future while also adjusting to changes in their educational structure and manner of living can be quite difficult. Most children and teens understand that, even when they do return to the classroom, things will be much more different and dangerous for them.

Dealing with High and Sometimes Unrealistic Expectations

Many teenagers nowadays are dealing with high rates of burnout. As college admissions grow more competitive and an increasing number of child prodigies seem to appear everywhere, it can be difficult for your child to avoid comparing themselves with these seemingly flawless students. As a result, children and teens may end up over-exerting themselves in an effort to remain competitive with their peers. But this can take a serious toll on both their sleeping patterns and their mental health. 

Other Risk Factors for Depression

A number of other risk factors can increase a child’s risk of developing depression, such as:

  • Having a family history of depression
  • Living through a traumatic or stressful live event
  • Dealing with a chronic illness such as diabetes or asthma
  • Using certain birth control pills or drugs to treat acne

TMS Towson Experts Review Treatment Options for Students Struggling with Depression

How You Can Help Your Student

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Most teenagers undergo mental health counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy to treat their depression. Some physicians also prescribe medication, such as Prozac or Lexapro to their young patients. However, these medications may end up worsening your child’s symptoms of depression. That’s why treatment plans are not a one-size-fits-all program and you must take your child to their primary care physician, who will help formulate a treatment plan catered to their unique issues. 


Learning how to manage depression is challenging for anyone, regardless of their age. If you notice one of your students showing symptoms of depression or you know that one of your children recently experienced a traumatic event, it is important to find the proper treatment plan and TMS Towson expert for them. The Psych Associates of Maryland is here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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