How To Recognize the Signs of Teen Depression

We all remember our teenage years. Young, angsty, and trying to find our way in the world. It can be difficult to remember those times as an adult. It may blind you from recognizing the symptoms of teen depression in your son or daughter. 

However, recognizing the signs your teen struggles with depression can mean the difference between them leading a happy, healthy life and them struggling with severe mental conditions such as addiction and thoughts of suicide. 

Teen depression isn’t an abnormal condition, and you should never feel ashamed to ask for help regarding health. However, despite depression being a normal condition, society has stigmatized it, making it especially challenging for teens to be open and honest about their struggles. 

With the right treatment and approach, your teen can feel comfortable about their condition. Teen depression is normal, and it’s how we respond to our teens’ condition that matters. 

Why Is It Important To Recognize Your Teen’s Depression 

Depression manifests in adults and teens in similar ways. The most common symptoms of depression include a persistent malaise and loss of interest from the activities they used to enjoy. 

Teens’ brains haven’t fully developed, and their depression symptoms can differ from those of an adult, causing behavior and mood changes you may not be accustomed to. Peer pressure, academic expectations, and changing hormones can complicate your teen’s acceptance phase.  Many times, teens aren’t even aware they’re suffering from depression. 

Teenage years are formative for anyone. That’s why catching these symptoms early before they worsen can help teens deal with their conditions. The earlier they learn the skills and treatment methods to cope with their condition, the more likely they will experience success in their treatment down the road. 

What Are Teen Depression Symptoms?

Teen depression represents itself in a multitude of symptoms. Learning how to recognize when your teen experiences these symptoms is crucial to getting your teen the help they need. 

  • Intense sadness or apathy 
  • Excessive anger over meaningless matters 
  • A feeling of hopelessness or emptiness 
  • Irritability 
  • A loss of interest in the activities that usually ignite joy
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Fixation on your past failures or exaggerated self-blame and self-criticism 
  • Overly sensitive reactions to rejections or failures 
  • The need for constant reassurance 
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • A grim outlook on your life and future
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

These symptoms may seem straightforward. However, it’s rare for a person suffering from depression to be completely open about their symptoms. That’s why learning how to have clear communication with your teen is an effective way to get them to tell you about their symptoms. 

Maintaining trust in your relationship with your teen will help you identify symptoms quicker. The quicker you identify symptoms, the sooner you can start discussing treatment options with your teen. 

When To Be Concerned

One of the most challenging aspects of approaching your teen’s depression is deciphering between normal mood changes and a severe condition. Everyone experiences feelings of sadness, and everyone goes through funks. However, depression is a more severe condition. 

One of the easiest ways to determine whether your teen has depression is how well they seem to cope with their feelings of loss or sadness. If your teen seems aware of their struggles and manages their reactions to those emotions, they likely don’t have depression. 

If your teen’s symptoms start controlling their behavior and cause them to retreat from their daily life, it may be cause for concern. If life becomes overwhelming for your teen, you need to have a heart-to-heart conversation about what they’re going through and getting them treatment. 

When To See a Doctor

If your teen’s depression signs and symptoms continue to worsen, it’s time to get them into a doctor. You may not always notice when their symptoms worsen, which is another reason why open communication is imperative. 

Talking to a doctor will help you devise a treatment strategy for your teen. Suggesting treatment to your teen shouldn’t be an authoritative approach. You should give them some autonomy over the type of treatment they get. However, listening to professionals will provide you with access to the best treatment. If ever the doctor recommends checking inpatient treatment, do not be reluctant to the idea of bringing your teen into inpatient depression treatment facilities. This would help address your teen’s struggle with depression in a holistic manner and this would be extremely beneficial to their recovery.

Depending on the severity of your teen’s conditions, they may have less autonomy in the decision. When deciding on treatment, the best way to tell your teen about treatment is by being completely honest about their options. Don’t sugarcoat their condition, and don’t lie to them about the potential treatment options. 

When To Contact Emergency Help 

Thoughts of suicide are common occurrences in those who suffer from depression. If you hear your teen talking about suicide, or they are exhibiting unusual behavior, consider calling a suicide hotline and staying with them as they talk over their situation.  

You can also call a trusted medical professional in these cases. Making your teen feel like everything will be okay during these emergencies is one of the best ways to diffuse the situation. 

Feelings of suicide often result from feeling like you’re isolated and like your thoughts are strange to others, like no one understands. Showing your teen that you understand what they’re going through is an easy way to earn their trust and make them more open to treatment options. 

Risk Factors 

There are many factors to teen depression that get overlooked. Issues such as bullying, other mental health conditions, having a learning or physical disability, chronic pain or a physical illness, and traumas in their past can all contribute to teens’ suffering from depression. 

Additional factors include alcohol or drug abuse and being gay, lesbian, or transgender in an unsupportive environment. Depression can also be genetic, resulting from a family member who has a history of alcohol or drug abuse, attempted suicide, or toxic family environments. 


There is no concrete way to prevent depression. However, you can develop healthy coping mechanisms that mitigate some of the negative aspects of depression. 

    • Stress reduction– Using mindfulness techniques and other medication can help reduce your stress, helping you build tools to deal with your depression. 
  • Reach out to your support group- In times of crisis, it can feel like you’re alone. Having someone help shoulder your burdens makes it easier for you to develop coping mechanisms. 
  • Get treatment when you notice an issue- Another prevalent issue with teens who suffer from depression is that they aren’t aware of the resources they have at their disposal. These treatment methods, such as residential treatment centers, can help your teen get the help they need to live a happy and healthy life. 
  • Maintain treatment- Depression is often a life-long battle. It’s not like a sickness that you catch and beat. Maintaining your mental health stems from developing coping mechanisms and treatment methods, so when you notice depression symptoms, you’re able to respond to the challenge. 

Conclusion- How To Recognize the Signs of Teen Depression 

Recognizing signs of depression in your teen is never easy. They’re already going through numerous changes, and dealing with a mental health condition makes adolescence and teenage years even more challenging. 

Letting your teen know they aren’t alone in their struggles is an excellent way to facilitate an open line of communication. When your teen feels like they are heard and they can trust you, they are more likely to tell you when they are struggling and come to you for advice. 


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