Teenage depression is a serious mental health problem that triggers a persistent state of sadness and a lack of desire for activities. It affects how your teenager thinks, feels, and behaves. Also, it can trigger emotional and functional conditions. Although depression can occur at any time in a person’s life, symptoms may be different between children, teenagers, and adults.

Signs of Depression in Teens and What to Do About ItIssues such as, for example, peer pressure, self-imposed or parental academic expectations, and changing bodies can provide a lot of ups and downs for teens. But for some teens, the lows are more than just a phase that is temporary, they are an indicator of depression.

Teenage depression isn’t a weakness or something which can be overcome with willpower — it could have severe consequences and requires treatment that is long-term. For most teens, depression symptoms ease with therapy such as medication and counseling.

Signs of depression in teens

Teenage depression signs and observable symptoms include a change from the teenager’s past attitude and behavior that causes distress. That is, significant problems in school or at home, in social activities, or in other areas of life. Depression symptoms can vary in severity, but changes in your teen’s thoughts and behavior might range from the examples below.

Psychological changes

Be alert for psychological changes that may indicate teen depression, such as:

  • Feelings of sadness, usually accompanied by crying spells for no reason that is apparent
  • Frustration or feelings of anger over small inconveniences
  • Feeling empty or hopeless
  • Irritable or moody
  • Loss of pleasure or interest in usual activities
  • Loss of great interest in, or conflict with, relatives and peers
  • Low self-esteem or negative body image (usually evident in their social media)
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Fixation on past failures or self-blame, that is, exaggerated self-criticism
  • Extreme sensitivity to failure or rejection, and the need for excessive reassurance
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Ongoing sense that life in the future will be bleak and grim
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying, or suicide

Signs of Depression in Teens and What to Do About It 1Behavioral changes

Watch for changes in behavior, such as for example:

  • Tiredness, usually from lack of sleep and/or food
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite – decreased weight and appetite loss, or increased cravings for food and fat gain
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Agitation or restlessness – for example, pacing, hand-wringing, or an inability to sit still
  • Frequent complaints of unexplained body aches and headaches, which may include frequent visits to the school nurse
  • Social isolation
  • Poor school performance or absences that are frequent
  • Less focus on hygiene and personal appearance
  • Angry outbursts, disruptive or behavior that are high-risk, or other acting-out habits
  • Self-harm such as burning or cutting
  • Making a suicide plan or a suicide attempt

What is normal behavior for teens?

Some of the symptoms mentioned are what parents assume is normal behavior for teenagers, which they will eventually outgrow. It could be hard to tell the essential difference between ups and downs that are simply par for the course of being a teen and teen depression. Talk with your teen. You will need to determine if they are capable of managing challenging feelings, or if life is overwhelming them.

A drastic shift in behavior and thinking that persists for more than a month is a red flag. Parents are encouraged to monitor their children’s social media. They project their feelings and ideas out into the world through it and are sometimes molded by what they see in their feeds and comment sections. Teenagers can either have access to social media or privacy, but they should never have both.

When your teen should see a doctor

If depression signs and symptoms continue, start to interfere with your teen’s life, or result in concerns about suicide or your teen’s safety, communicate with a doctor or mental health professional. Your child’s family doctor or pediatrician is a great place to start.

Signs of Depression in Teens and What to Do About It 2Your child’s school counselor might recommend someone to you. Depression symptoms likely won’t get better on their own and may even get worse or trigger other problems if untreated. Depressed teenagers may be at risk of suicide, even when signs and symptoms are not seemingly severe.

Causes of depression in teens

It is not known just what causes depression, but a selection of dilemmas may be included. These generally include:

Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters carry signals to and from your brain and body. When these chemicals are impaired or irregular, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems changes, ultimately causing depression.

Hormones. Alterations in the body’s balance of hormones during puberty may be involved in causing depression.

Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives, such as a grandparent or parent, also have the condition.

Early childhood trauma. Terrible trauma during youth, such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or the loss of a parent, may cause changes within the brain that increase the risk of depression.

Risk factors

Numerous factors increase the risk of developing or triggering depression in a teenager, including:

    • Having issues that negatively impact self-esteem, such as obesity, peer issues, long-lasting bullying, or educational problems
    • Having been the target or witness of violence, such as physical or abuse that is sexual
    • Having other health that is mental, such as for instance manic depression, panic, a personality disorder, anorexia, or bulimia
    • Having a learning Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
    • Having pain that is ongoing a chronic physical illness such as cancer, diabetes, or asthma
  • Having a character that’s sure, such as for example low self-esteem or being overly dependent, self-critical, or pessimistic
  • Abusing alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs
  • Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender in an environment that is unsupportive
  • Signs of Depression in Teens and What to Do About It 3Family history and issues with family members or others may increase your teenager’s threat of depression
  • Having a parent, grandparent, or another blood relative with depression, bipolar disorder, or liquor usage problems
  • Having a grouped family members user who died by suicide
  • Having a grouped family with major communication and relationship problems
  • Having skilled recent life that is stressful, such as parental divorce, parental armed forces service, or the death of a loved one

Teen depression treatment

These treatments can be used to alleviate the symptoms of teen depression.  Encourage your teenager to:

  • Practice self-care, for example by getting enough rest, exercising, and eating healthy while using electronic devices responsibly and in moderation
  • Reach out to friends for social support in times of crisis
  • Get treatment at the earliest signs of a problem to help prevent depression from worsening
  • Maintain therapy that is ongoing if suggested, also after symptoms let up, to help alleviate problems with a relapse of depression signs.

Pursuing counseling for depression in teens

If you are a teenager and you suspect that you might be depressed – or there is a close friend who might think is depressed – don’t wait to get help. Contact any one of our counselors and receive assistance. Share your concerns with a parent, a close friend, a spiritual leader, a teacher, or someone else you trust.

When to get emergency help

Suicide is often connected with depression. You might hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if you believe.

Also consider these options if you’re having thoughts of being suicidal:

Call a suicide hotline. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat. Or contact a crisis service for teens called TXT 4 HELP: Text the phrase “safe” and your local area that is current to (44357) for immediate help, utilizing the selection for interactive texting.

Contact a minister, spiritual leader, or Christian counselor in your faith community.

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Articles are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice; the Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All opinions expressed by authors and quoted sources are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, publishers or editorial boards of San Diego Christian Counseling. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.
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