What Signs Of depression In Teens Should I Look Out For?

Updated August 28, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Maria Abada, LPC

You may be aware that depression is possible at almost any stage of life. While there are common symptoms of depression in general, it can manifest differently in teens than in adults. Keep reading for details about what depression looks like in teens, and the warning signs you should look out for.

What Is Depression?

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the disorder that affects most, if not all, aspects of an individual’s life. It is considered to be dangerous if these feelings last for weeks at a time, change your routines, and influence the things you do daily. When depression symptoms are numerous and have lasted for over two weeks, this is considered significant depression or significant depressive order. This is a severe disorder that is unlikely to diminish without seeking treatment.

Does Depression Affect Teens Differently?

Depression can appear differently in teens than in adults. One reason is that teens are already dealing with so many changes and issues. Adolescence can be a turbulent time. Teens are forming their identity and grappling with changes in their body, and are experiencing a number of academic and social pressures. This can be a lot for a teen to deal with. Teen depression is a condition that needs to be treated so that the depression doesn’t continue to get worse.

When you think of someone depressed, you may immediately think of someone who is always sad. However, teens who are depressed can present as moody and irritable. Sometimes a depressed teen is unable to change how they feel. If you notice your teen behaving differently than they used to, take note, as that is always a red flag. You may also want to look out for other symptoms of depression, which they may be exhibiting as well.


The following is a list of common symptoms of teen depression:

  • Feeling sad
  • Crying for seemingly no reason
  • Irritability
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Exhibiting frustration and anger
  • A need to be reassured often
  • Overly critical of themselves
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Have trouble making decisions
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Feel like they’re worthless
  • Sleeping too much or not enough
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Unable to standstill
  • Not taking care of hygiene properly
  • Problems with schoolwork
  • Staying away from friends
  • Body aches and pains

Signs To Look Out For

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While the symptoms listed above can be alarming for any parent, other symptoms are a significant cause for concern. For example, teens may start to self-harm, worry about death or dying, and may even attempt suicide. If your teen has started to exhibit behaviors like these, you will need to get them immediate support. There is also help and resources available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK. If you are a teen that has these symptoms, you can also benefit from therapy and support when you need it. Moreover, if you seem to be overwhelmed by your life and the things going on around you, this is the best time to investigate your treatment options.


Much like with other mental health issues, teen depression is often treated through the use of psychotherapy and medication. With psychotherapy, your teen will be able to process the issues they are facing that contribute to your depression. This is a vital part of the process, since many teens may feel misunderstood or are struggling with the challenges of adolescence. It is important to seek the help of a mental health professional to assist your teen while they are working through these issues and start to learn how to positively address some of the things that are weighing them down.

Teen depression can cause significant changes in all aspects of their life. These changes can affect a teen and their family for months at a time. An article published in Pediatrics explains that when a teen is diagnosed with depression and begins to seek treatment, this treatment can have long-lasting positive effects not only on their depression, but their school, peer, and family functioning as well.

Another thing that should be noted is that teens often fare better during the treatment when they are considered in the process. A study conducted showed that teenagers are more likely to see improvements in their depression when they are asked how they feel about treatments and allowed to make decisions concerning them. They will also be more likely to follow the recommendations that a mental health professional prescribes.

A teen should be comfortable with the treatment plan that is laid out for them, and a parent should be comfortable as well. If anyone has an issue with part of the process, they should feel free to speak up.

Additional Techniques To Consider

Teens who have depression can feel out of control sometimes. This is why it is essential to develop a structure. This may help you manage your depression symptoms better or allow your treatment to become more effective.

  • Take projects slowly. If you have a big test coming up and need to study or if you have a long paper to write, break down big projects into smaller ones that are easier to manage.
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  • Try to be realistic. You should make goals and try to meet them. However, if for some reason you are unable to, this isn’t the end of the world. Things happen and don’t always turn out the way you wanted them to. When they don’t, this doesn’t reflect poorly on you. You don’t need to be hard on yourself if you got a bad grade on a homework assignment, or you didn’t make the football team. You can keep trying.
  • Sleep at night. You should get the proper amount of sleep at night. Teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. With the right amount of sleep, you’ll be in a better position to make decisions and process all the things that happen to you throughout your day.
  • Get up and get moving, even if you don’t always feel like you want to. You can walk your dog down the block or dance to a couple of your favorite songs. This can help improve your mood.
  • Hang out. You shouldn’t shut out friends and family. Be sure that you keep your support system close, so they will be there when you need to lean on them. Your support system is the people that are important to you that you can talk to about your problems. Everyone needs a support system to rely on at times, even if they aren’t experiencing depression.
  • Write in a journal. When you are having a good day, write in a journal. If a few things went wrong, you could write that in your journal too. This writing can help you get your feelings out, which may be able to keep them from bothering you.


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When you take advantage of the treatment options available, depression symptoms can lessen over time and feel more manageable. While many people experience depressive symptoms at one point in their life, it becomes an issue when it remains chronic, intense, and becomes interference in your teen’s quality of life. The best course of action is to consult a mental health care professional, so they can determine the best course of action to help you and your teen.

Therapy Can Make A Difference

Therapy is something that can make a big difference in someone’s life. Teenagers with depression can benefit from therapy just as much as adult patients. Your teen might need some guidance that only a true mental health professional can provide. If you’d like to help your teen overcome depression, then signing up for therapy is a great first step.

There are options to consider when signing up for therapy. Some people like to go the traditional route of signing up for therapy at an in-person clinic. Others might like the idea of looking into online therapy due to the overall convenience. Online therapy is very much the same as traditional therapy, except that it allows you to get help from the comfort of home.

You might find the idea of signing up for online therapy at BetterHelp to be very appealing. This platform has been able to help many people with depression to learn how to move forward in life. Depression is a serious problem, but it can be dealt with when you have the right assistance. Your teen will learn to develop coping mechanisms while working through the issues that are causing depression.

Don’t fret when depression is starting to become an issue for your teen. Either online therapy or traditional therapy will be a great option for getting things back to normal. Your teen has your support, and they have compassionate professionals that they can turn to. Simply sign up for therapy whenever you feel that the time is right for your teen.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What Is The Main Cause Of Depression Among The Youth?

Truthfully, there are many potential causes of depression among teens. Issues such as low self-esteem, peer pressure, academic pressure, and bullying can all contribute to mental health issues.

These mental health issues can also be caused by trouble at home. Just about any type of stress has the potential to cause mental health issues such as depression. If your teen’s behavior seems off, then it’s possible that they might be depressed. You can’t determine what is causing the depression until you look at the situation closer to see what is happening. Family conflict can sometimes cause depression, and even a family history of depression can play a role. Something as simple as fighting with a friend or family member could be a sign of depression in a teenager. Mental disorders like this are tough for teens to cope with alone, and they need assistance.

Luckily, there are many health treatment options that you can look into. The American Psychiatric Association notes that depression is a manageable condition. Going to a doctor allows your teen to get a diagnosis, treatment, and support. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a doctor if you suspect that your teen needs health treatment. Family members should be there to support teens as they seek help for these mental health issues. Depression can be difficult to cope with, and everyone deserves to have health treatment professionals on their side.

What Are Signs Of Anxiety In A Teenager?

Depressed teens can also demonstrate symptoms of anxiety. Signs of anxiety in teenagers won’t be all that different than adults. Many teens who are experiencing anxiety might try to avoid social activities or school activities. They could seem distant or more worried than normal. You might even see anxiety present itself physically in the form of chest pains or trembling.

The signs of anxiety can be subtle, or they can be very pronounced. Each person experiences anxiety a little bit differently, and you can’t say for sure how difficult something is for your teen. Mental health issues such as anxiety can be very problematic for teens, and your teen will need support to get through this. Thankfully, anxiety is a treatable condition and can be managed with medications and therapy, just like depression.

Seeking out health treatment is very important when you’re going through anxiety issues. Anxiety can make it tough to get through life. Having the support of family members is great when you’re experiencing anxiety, but teens do need professional help as well. Seek out health treatment services so that your teen can mitigate anxiety symptoms.

Does My Teenager Have A Mental Illness?

If your teenager is showing signs that they might have mental health problems, then they might have a mental illness. However, it’s important to note that it isn’t up to you to make that determination. You cannot self-diagnose a mental illness, and your teenager needs to be evaluated by a mental health professional. If you suspect that your teen is struggling with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, then making an appointment with their doctor is for the best.

Your family doctor can handle diagnosis, treatment, and determining how else to move forward. Don’t assume that your children and teens have mental illnesses without checking with a doctor. Children and teens need to be diagnoses properly so that they can receive the right treatment. Your doctor will be happy to provide the health services that you need, and you can go forward from there.

Is It Normal To Have Mood Swings As A Teenager?

Yes, mood swings can occur as a normal part of teenage life. Teenagers are going through changes, and they can experience hormonal issues that will make them irritable sometimes. It isn’t unusual to see someone who is going through puberty to change a bit in terms of attitude. This can also present itself as mood swings, but you should note that mood swings can also be indicative of mental health issues.

Essentially, you can’t point to just mood swings when you’re suspecting that your teen is depressed or experiencing anxiety. There are many reasons why teens exhibit mood swings. You have to look at the other signs of depression or anxiety while also considering the context of what is going on in your teen’s life. You can help your teen whether they are dealing with normal teenage mood swings or if they’re struggling with mental health issues. Just contact the right health treatment services to get things going.

Which Age Group Is The Most Depressed?

According to recent data, middle-aged people experience depression at the highest rates. In America, middle-aged women (women ages 40 to 59) have the highest depression rate. One out of every eight women in American struggle with mental health issues such as depression. This doesn’t mean that other age groups are unlikely to experience depression, though. Teens can go through mental health struggles just as easily as adults can, and they need health treatment services that they can rely on.

What Happens In The Brain During Depression?

The brain produces excessive amounts of cortisol during the depression. This also happens when someone goes through physical or emotional stress. When the brain produces too much cortisol, this can lead to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Those who experience consistent depression might have trouble with the production of new neurons. Eventually, this can lead to issues with memory as a person grows older, but it’s more prevalent in people who have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder.

Depression also has the potential to enlarge the amygdala. This is the part of the brain that handles emotional responses such as fear and pleasure. Having an enlarged amygdala can cause sleep problems, and it can also interrupt activity patterns. Sometimes the body might release more hormones than usual, too, which can complicate things even more.

You can see that depression has a big impact on the brain, and this is why it’s so important to seek out health treatment services. You need to be able to get the help that you need so that you can move forward. Depression is treatable, and you can turn to health treatment services to figure things out. When depression is being treated properly, it makes it much easier to avoid the complications mentioned above. Seek out the treatment services that your teen needs today.

What Age Does Mental Illness Start?

There isn’t necessarily an age where mental illness will start. There are some cases where children will experience mental health issues. You might find that some people will start to struggle with mental health problems when they reach their teenage years, while others won’t have issues until they’re well into adulthood. It’s a case-by-case type of thing, and you can pinpoint a specific age when mental illness is going to start.

Don’t assume that your children and teens are too young to go through depression issues. Health treatment is available for children and teens who are struggling. You can turn to a doctor for diagnosis, treatment, and support even when your children are still young. Having the right treatment services available can make a difference. You should also be committed to being there for your kids. The support of family members can mean the world when you’re experiencing mental health complications so young.

What Race Suffers From Depression The Most?

Data has shown that all races are susceptible to depression. However, it should be noted that there are some variances in the numbers. Mental disorders can be experienced by any race, but environmental and societal factors could be playing a role in producing these numbers. Either way, people need to seek health treatment when they suspect that they might be depressed.

What Gender Is More Likely To Experience Depression?

People can experience mental health struggles such as depression regardless of gender identity. It has been noted that middle-aged women experience depression at the highest rate in America. The American Psychiatric Association has lots of data that shows that depression rates are generally higher in females after puberty. Please keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that it is unusual for males to be depressed. Depression is a mental health struggle that millions of people have to deal with regardless of gender.

If you suspect that you’re experiencing mental health issues such as depression, then you should seek health treatment. Sometimes men make the mistake of not seeking treatment because they fear that it will make them look weak. Men’s health is important, and this includes mental health. Don’t let your gender keep you from getting health treatment when you’re going through depression. Seeking the right health treatment now could mean the difference between coping with depression successfully and struggling in life.

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