Is your teen depressed? What is the difference between stress- and hormone-fueled teenage angst and depression? “Teen depression is much more than feeling temporarily sad […] It’s a serious and debilitating mood disorder that can change the way [one] think[s], feel[s], and function[s] in [their] daily life.”3
On this year’s World Mental Health Day, the World Health Organization is asking us to think about young people and their mental health in a changing world. This can mean anything from stress-management to anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses.1 Adolescents and teenagers rely on the adults in their lives—parents, teachers, coaches, and other caregivers—to help them find treatment and resources for their mental health.2 But, depression symptoms in teens can look different than depression symptoms in adults.2 Here are a few things to look for in your teen’s behavior if you suspect they may be depressed.
Signs and Symptoms of Teen Depression2
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities
- Poor school performance
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Restlessness and agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression in Teens vs. Adults
According to HelpGuide.org, an information source on mental and emotional health, the following symptoms are more common in teenagers than in their adult counterparts:
- Irritable or angry mood.“…[I]rritability, rather than sadness, is often the predominant mood in depressed teens. A depressed teenager may be grumpy, hostile, easily frustrated, or prone to angry outbursts.”
- Unexplained aches and pains.“Depressed teens frequently complain about physical ailments such as headaches or stomachaches. If a thorough physical exam does not reveal a medical cause, these aches and pains may indicate depression.”
- Extreme sensitivity to criticism.“Depressed teens are plagued by feelings of worthlessness, making them extremely vulnerable to criticism, rejection, and failure. This is a particular problem for ‘over-achievers.’”
- Withdrawing from some, but not all people.“While adults tend to isolate themselves when depressed, teenagers usually keep up at least some friendships.” Look for changes in socialization patterns.
Other Questions to Ask Yourself
- How long the symptoms have been going on?
- How severe are the symptoms?
- How different your teen is acting from their usual self?
If these symptoms match your teen, Exult Healthcare has services that can benefit them. Depression treatment options include medications, psychotherapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), or a combination of treatments. Each case of depression—no matter the age group—is unique and treated accordingly. There is never a “one-size-fits-all” for treatments here. Check out our Depression Treatment page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- “World Mental Health Day 2018,” World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/mental_health/world-mental-health-day/2018/en/
- “Parents’ Guide to Teen Depression,” Helpguide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/parents-guide-to-teen-depression.htm
- “Teenagers’ Guide to Teen Depression,” Helpguide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/teenagers-guide-to-depression.htm
Written By: Gabby Lundy, Exult Healthcare