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What are the signs of teen depression? How do I know if my teen is depressed?


Teenage girl (14-15) sitting sad in armchair
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Question: What are the signs of teen depression? How do I know if my teen is depressed?
Answer: Depression among teens is often an unrecognized problem. While parents may think it looks only like sadness or apathy, teen depression is much more. It can vary from short-term mood swings to chronic recurrent feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Parents should be aware of the factors that are linked with teens who are at a high risk of teen depression. They include:

Parents should look for the warning signs of teen depression:

  • Changes in a teen's eating pattern, such as decreased or increased eating.
  • Changes in a teen's sleeping pattern, such as difficulty sleeping at night.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse, such as regular use of cigarettes or marijuana.
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • A profound sense of hopelessness, guilt or unhappiness.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy, sleeping all of the time and having a hard time to get up in the morning - even more so than normal teen behavior.
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Decline in school performance, can be seen as a byproduct of other teen depression symptoms but is often one of the first signs parents recognize.
  • Withdrawal from or change of friends
  • Withdrawal from family and regular activities
  • Lack of interest in the future.
  • Dramatic change in personality or behavior such as extreme moodiness or irritability, includes a teen who is:
    • prone to angry outbursts which can get violent,
    • easily frustrated,
    • and irritable, grumpy or hostile.
If you are seeing these signs of depression in your teen, here are some resources that will help you find your teen help:
  • 5 Things You Should Do if You Think Your Teen is Depressed
    If you think your teen is depressed, do not ignore it. If your teen is depressed, there are things you can do and steps you can take that will help your teenager overcome their depression. If it turns out he is not depressed, you've showed him that you cared enough to check it out. Either way, you and your teen wins. This teen depression article has five things you should do if you think your teen is depressed.

  • Treatment Programs for Teens Suffering From Depression
    Teens suffering from depression will sometimes need the level of help and support that can only be provided in a day treatment, residential treatment or hospital program. This is not the first step to take with a depressed teen but is needed in some cases to provide a safe, structured environment where the teen can heal and learn how to effectively manage this disorder. Learn more about these programs in this teen depression article.

  • The Dangers of Untreated Depression in Teens
    When depression in teens is left untreated, the consequences can be severe, and in some cases, deadly. Like other illnesses, untreated depression continues to get worse and the teen who has it continues to suffer. Learn what you can avoid by getting your teen help.

How Adult Depression Signs Differ From Teen Depression

As adults and teens are in a different life stage, there are often times differences in the symptoms of depression - they can act differently. Which is no surprise, as adults and teens act differently on a normal basis. These differences in signs can point a parent away from thinking that their teen is suffering from depression, so be on careful look out for them:
  • Teens will isolate themselves from parents but may still want to be with friends, whereas adult tend to isolate themselves totally. Teens may even seek out new friendships and start hanging with a new crowd.
  • Teens will 'not feel good' and suffer from ailments like headaches and stomachaches.
  • Teens will not do well with criticism or failure. This is part of the reason your depressed teen may avoid you as they are unable to handle even the slightest disapproval. Many over-achievers will place high goals on themselves and then become depressed when they don't reach them.
  • They tend to be a lot more angry and full of teen angst instead of sad like adults.

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