Depression In Teenager Is Not Just A Bad Mood

in Understanding Depression

Teen Depression

In some ways, depression in teenagers is similar to depression in adults. However, symptoms of teenage depression as well as options do have some significant differences for teens.

RecognizeRecognizing Depression In Teenagers

It’s common for teens to be moody and withdrawn, so recognizing depression symptoms in teenagers can sometimes be difficult.

But teenage depression is a serious situation that should be addressed as early as possible.

When a person experiences depression at a young age, it can easily become a way of life if left unresolved.

Often, people who are diagnosed with clinical depression as adults realize that the condition first developed when they were teens. Nipping depression symptoms in the bud by treating teenage depression early is crucial.

List Depression SignsSymptoms And Signs Of Teenage Depression

It is important to realize that a depressed teenager may not necessarily exhibit classic signs like sadness.

Conversely, teenagers often use the phrase, “I’m depressed” when they really mean that something has caused them to feel sad temporarily. This is normal.

Depression is a different matter and is a serious medical condition. Signs and symptoms of teenage depression to watch for include:

  • Irritability
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Poor performance in school
  • Lack of interest in social or extracurricular activities
  • Crying spells
  • Low self esteem
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping a lot more than usual
  • Severe or chronic tiredness
  • Spending a great deal of time in isolated activities, such as surfing the Internet

How Does Teenage Depression Differ From Adult Depression?

Teen Depression

The specific causes of depression teenagers may be a bit different from the factors that trigger depression in adults.

Teens are more vulnerable to issues like falling victim to peer pressure as well as the pressure of performing well in school and fitting in with other teens.

Because of this, depressed teenagers are more likely to exhibit certain signs and symptoms of depression that are less typical of adults. For example:

1) Depressed Teens Are More Likely To Be Overly Sensitive

Issues of self-awareness and self-esteem tend to develop during the teen years. When a teenager is depressed, he or she may be very sensitive to criticism.

Worries about failure and perceived rejection by peers can also be exaggerated in depressed teenagers.

2) Physical Aches And Pains May Be More Common

A teenager who is depressed may often complain about not feeling well or about having pains such as headaches. This may cause the teen to miss school or avoid social events.

3) Patterns Of Social Interaction May Change

Like depressed adults, teenagers who are depressed often withdraw and socialize less. However, they usually continue to have at least a few social relationships.

They may also start to socialize with different people, and in some cases will begin to interact with other troubled teens.

4) Depressed Teens Exhibit Anger, Frustration And Irritability More Often

This is in contrast to adult depression, where sadness is usually the primary symptom of depression.

RiskConsequences Of Depression In Teenagers

Except in cases of severe clinical depression, a depressed adult is often still able to function and is more likely to have developed enough life experience to recognize self-destructive behaviors.

The effects of depression on teenagers can be more devastating. Teens who are depressed may act out by running away, abusing drugs or alcohol, or becoming violent.

Depression in teenagers can also set the stage for a lifetime of feeling inadequate, unattractive or unworthy.

This can lead to other psychiatric disorders that often develop during the teen years, including eating disorders and cutting behavior.

QuestionHow To Help A Teenager With Depression

If you think that a teenager in your life is depressed, getting help immediately can help save his or her life.

If you are the teen’s parent or guardian, make an appointment with a doctor or psychologist.

If not, talk to the person responsible for the teen’s care and tell that person what you observe. Gently suggest that the teen should get some help. If it’s feasible, offer your support as well.

If a teenager you’re responsible for refuses to see the doctor, you can talk to a medical professional yourself for some advice on how to help your child.

Assure the teen that depression is medical illness, not a character flaw. We all need help to cope with life’s challenges, so talking to a trusted adult about how to get some help is nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s no different than asking for help with a difficult subject at school or going to the doctor for a sprained ankle or some other kind of illness.

What To Tell The Doctor And What Kind Of Treatment To Expect

1) Tell The Doctor What You Observe

When you see a doctor about teenage depression, tell the doctor what symptoms the teen is experiencing, how severe the symptoms seem to be, and how much the symptoms seem to be interfering with the quality of the teenager’s life.

If depression runs in the teen’s family, the doctor should know about that as well.

2) Encourage The Depressed Teenager To Open Up

Depression Writing

It is very important to get a young person to open up about any issues that may be contributing to the depression. This often means regular visits to a counselor or psychologist.

There are many mental health providers that specialize in working with teens, so find one of these professionals if you can.

If you have trouble finding someone who works specifically with teenagers, ask the guidance counselor or nurse at the teen’s school for a referral.

Most will be able to recommend someone the teenager can see to get help with depression.

3) Ask How Therapy Is Going

Make sure the teen connects with his or her therapist. Your questions may be met with resistance, but keep asking anyway so you can be sure that the relationship is beneficial.

Teens may be complacent about therapy and reluctant to offer information unless they are asked.

4) Don’t Depend Solely On Antidepressant Medication To Treat Depression In Teenagers


While medication may be recommended and may be necessary in some cases, you should not rely only on drugs to treat depression symptoms in teenagers.

In fact, unless you’re afraid that the teenager is suicidal or in serious danger, you may want to avoid using medication until you exhaust other treatment options.

Most antidepressant medications were designed for adults and tested on adults, so they may have different effects and side effects in teenagers.

If your teen does take antidepressants, watch for side effects. Contact the doctor immediately if you notice any of the following.

  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • A suicide attempt of any kind
  • Impulsive or dangerous behavior
  • Aggression, anger or violence
  • New or worsening symptoms of any kind
  • No change or improvement in the depression after two months on medication

Next StepHow Can You Help A Depressed Teenager?

Teenagers need support.

The best thing you can do for a depressed teenager is let him or her know that you care and are there to help.

Rather than lecturing the teen or trying to change his or her behavior, let the child know that you understand the challenges of depression and that you love and accept him or her regardless.

It’s also important to encourage positive behaviors. Do what you can to encourage the following activities, which can help alleviate depression symptoms in teenagers.

  • Exercise and physical activity
  • Healthy eating
  • Social activity
  • Compliance with treatment
  • Participation in activities that the teen typically enjoys, such as art, sports, music or going to the movies

Depression bookAlso be sure to learn all you can about depression so that you are in a better position to understand and help.

You can find detailed information about depression and how to manage it in the End Your Depression ebook.

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