While many people go through sad or elated moods from time to time, people with mood disorders suffer from severe or prolonged mood states that disrupt their daily functioning. Among the general mood disorders are major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and dysthymia. In classifying and diagnosing mood disorders, doctors determine if the mood disorder is unipolar or bipolar. When only one extreme in mood (the depressed state) is experienced, this condition is called unipolar. Major depression refers to a single severe period of depression, marked by negative or hopeless thoughts and physical symptoms like fatigue. In major depressive disorder, some patients have isolated episodes of depression. In between these episodes, the patient does not feel depressed or have other symptoms associated with depression. Other patients have more frequent episodes.
Bipolar depression or bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic depression) refers to a condition in which people experience two extremes in mood. They alternate between depression (the low mood) and mania or hypomania (the high mood). These patients go from depression to a frenzied, abnormal elevation in mood. Mania and hypomania are similar, but mania is usually more severe and debilitating to the patient. Dysthymia is a recurrent or lengthy depression that may last a lifetime. It is similar to major depressive disorder, but dysthymia is chronic, long-lasting, persistent, and mild. Patients may have symptoms that are not as severe as major depression, but the symptoms last for many years. It seems that a mild form of the depression is always present. In some cases, people may also experience a major depressive episode on top of their dysthymia, a condition sometimes referred to as double depression.
Psychologists have identified the teenage years as one of the most difficult phases of human life. Although they are often seen as a time for enjoying friendship and engaging in activities that adults would not usually do, the teenage period can be difficult. Many changes in the human mind take place during puberty. Apart from the onset of sexual maturity, teenagers must also make key decisions about their future, develop their identities, change schools and meet a new sets of friends, find out about their family's past, and cope with a wide range of other issues. Many young people have difficulty coping with these stresses.
Four out of five teenagers who commit suicide are male, but the average female teenager is prone to attempt suicide four more times during her teen years than the average male. White teenage males are more likely to commit suicide than any other ethnic group, but teenage suicide among blacks was as of 2004 increasing. Teenagers who have unsuccessfully tried to commit suicide in the past are more likely to attempt suicide in the future. The odds increase after each failed attempt. There are two groups of teens that are at the highest risk for committing suicide: Native Americans and teens who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered.
Gay and bisexual male teens, which represent about 10 percent of the male teen population, are six to seven times more at risk for attempting suicide than their heterosexual peers. Several surveys show gay and lesbian youth account for 30 percent of all suicides among teens, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Yet most studies of teen suicide have not been concerned with identifying sexual orientation.
Robert Scott Dinsmoor, Ken R. Wells, Thomson Gale, Gale, Detroit,