Teens are under constant pressure – pressure to perform academically, to become their own person independent of their parents and guardians, and to deal with the hormonal and physical changes that are happening to their bodies. On top of all that, teens are also under constant scrutiny from their classmates, and are often subject to mounting pressure to fit in or do things that earn them approval from their peers. This constant pressure to fit in and to gain approval can be overwhelming for many teens, ultimately leading to depression and other mental health issues. Here are some of the things we’ve learned about peer pressure and depression from our teenage students at Sage Day therapeutic school.
How Peer Pressure Leads to Depression
Everyone feels pressure to fit in with their peers and people they admire, but for teenagers, this pressure to conform and get approval is especially acute. High school is notorious for being filled with different cliques and groups that often define themselves through certain behaviors and by assigning social statuses to different people. In order to fit in with these cliques, teens often feel pressured to change things about themselves, or to pretend that they are someone different than who they really are.
Because teenagers are already struggling to define and discover who they are as a person, this additional pressure to act or look certain ways can often lead them to feeling confused or at odds with themselves. When peer pressure demands that they act in ways with which they are not comfortable, it can cause teens to suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
Depression in Teenagers
Teenagers often feel very strong emotions, leading to noticeable extremes in mood. That said, depression is more than just feeling sad. Depression is a mental health issue, one that can damage academic performance, discourage teens from socializing or making friends, and even lead to dangerous behavior.
Signs that a teen may be suffering from depression include:
- Constant sadness, irritability, or lack of energy.
- Changes in sleep patterns or eating habits.
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
- Lack of interest in favorite activities.
- Self-imposed isolation.
- Feelings of guilt or self-hatred.
- Constant complaints of being bored or unengaged.
- Sudden drops in academic performance.
- Talk of self-harm or suicide.
Managing Depression Caused by Peer Pressure
When peer pressure causes teens to become depressed, the most important step to take is to give them a chance to process and deal with their emotions outside of the environment that is causing the changes in their behavior. For some teens, speaking with a counselor or therapist is enough for them to learn to manage their emotions in a healthy way, and to navigate the high pressure social world of high school. Other teens, however, may require additional help and schooling in a therapeutic environment.
Sage Day therapeutic school offers a healthy, safe learning environment for kids and teenagers. Learn more by contacting us today at 877-887-8817.