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Carnegie Mellon University, Systems

Authors: Iris Yip, Neely Lee, Elena Crites, Eric Zhao, Jackie Wang


Depression rates among adolescents and young adults have been on the rise in modern times. Recent studies within the decade have shown racial discrimination and academic pressure, among others, to be correlated with higher rates of depression. There are currently few or no gigamaps that have this broad array of factors together to help us understand the problem. This study identifies the factors related to adolescent depression and synthesizes them into an informative visual map for a more comprehensive understanding of a large-scale systemic issue. This understanding can help designers spot the root causes and effectively apply interventions. As a research method, we reviewed scientific texts and studies about specific issues within our wicked problem. We also created a customized taxonomy to help us reorganize our content according to six lenses. Overall, our results unanimously pointed to a lack of support systems within almost all levels of the structure. In many cases, teenage bullying was not taken as a serious topic, often overlooked or even “misdiagnosed” as acts of rebellion or hormone-based teenage mood swings that only further propagate the stigma surrounding the topic. Our collective mindset and cultural perception of depression as a group play a large role in allowing intervention points such as therapy and psychiatric help to actually reach its intended audience. Not only do we have to be mindful of the issue on an individual basis, but larger communities and their representatives must be better about shouldering the responsibility of raising awareness and actively combat the stigma surrounding the topic in order for interventions to reach optimal effectiveness.

Furthermore, these interventions can be broken down and applied in a quantitative manner, even if our understanding of how to approach depression and other mental health-related issues is thought of qualitatively. For example, increasing funding for institutions and mental health research as well as limiting the usage of social media from an individual or corporate level was shown to be extremely effective. Although the wicked problem may seem unresolvable, there are ways that the problem could be dissected and approached in a way that could essentially help improve small categories of root causes. A proposed method and interventions are not only limited to identifying the rise of adolescent depression rate but also can be applied to a wider range of wicked problems in the world.

Through giga-mapping, we are hoping for more designers to become open-minded towards fixing these daunting complex world problems.


Author. (2020). Article title. In Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD9) 2020 Symposium. India, October 9-17, 2020.

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Citation Data

Author(s): Carnegie Mellon University, School of Design, USA. Factors related to adolescent depression synthesized to lend understanding to the systemic issues.
Title: Rising Adolescent Depression
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
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First published: 2 October 2020
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