Recognize Signs of Depression in Teenagers


According to some experts, as few as one in five clinically depressed teenagers receives help or treatment for the condition, leaving an untold number of teenagers going untreated for a serious mental health condition.

We associate the teenage years with many emotional ups and downs, so one major problem identifying the signs of depression in teenagers is knowing the difference between true signs of depression and the characteristics that go along with "being a teenager." Most teens will exhibit some of these signs and will not be considered clinically depressed, so one must weigh them with how long these symptoms continue, the severity of them, and how different they are compared to how the teen normally acts.

Signs of depression in teenagers include:

  • Hostility, irritability, anger
  • Frequent crying episodes
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in things that previously interested them
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Loss of enthusiasm or motivation
  • Sadness, hopelessness
  • Expressed feelings of worthlessness and guilt

Signs of clinical depression in teenagers will be different than those expected to be seen in adults. For example, depressed teenagers are more likely to be hostile or irritable than depressed adults. Additionally, depressed teenagers are more likely to express their depression in terms of unexplained aches and pains, such as headaches or stomach aches, which a physician can find no reason for.

Depression in Teenagers: The Possible Effects

Serious depression in teenagers can have devastating, long-lasting and life-altering effects if left untreated, in part because the teenager lacks the emotional tools to take appropriate measures to counter them. The effects include:

  • School issues, including grades dropping and attendance slipping
  • Running away from home
  • Committing acts of violence
  • Self-medicating through the abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Low self-esteem, which can lead a teenager to do things he or she would not normally do
  • Escapism, to places like the Internet or among different social groups
  • Reckless behavior, including reckless driving or unsafe sex

Considering the potential ramifications of any one of these effects, learning to recognize the signs of depression in teenagers and doing something to help mitigate them by seeking professional help could make all the difference in the development of a teenager into a mentally healthy adult.


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