More than Just Moodiness: Recognizing Teen Depression


Major depression’s a serious mental illness that impacts huge numbers of people every year. It doesn’t discriminate either. Whether you’re young, old, rich, or poor, each of us could suffer a depressive episode at some point in our lifetime.

Going through it is never easy. But of all the stages of life to experience depression for the first time, adolescence can be a particular challenge. After all, unlike grown adults, teenagers often lack the insight and ability to access the support they may desperately need.

Are you concerned that your child may be suffering from teen depression? Well, the good news is that it’s as treatable as any other kind. Before you can help them along the road to recovery, though, you need to identify the issue once and for all. With that in mind, keep reading to learn all about the signs of depression in teenagers and how to support them.

What Are the Signs of Depression in Teenagers?

Some well-intentioned parents put their child’s melancholy and mood swings down to the tumultuous nature of adolescence. Alas, teen depression’s altogether more serious. No matter the cause, it can lead to everything from substance abuse to suicide when left untreated.

Here’s a list of the diverse symptoms of depression in teenagers. Keeping them in mind should help you recognize this serious mental illness when you see it:

  • Immense ongoing sadness and tearfulness
  • Quickness to anger/irritability (sometimes over apparently minor/immaterial issues)
  • A sense of worthlessness and hopelessness; the future seems pointless
  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue
  • Lack of appetite and obvious weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping at night/insomnia
  • Difficulty focusing on tasks and remembering things
  • Withdrawal from social groups and activities
  • Loss of interest in usual hobbies and pastimes
  • Low self-esteem and lots of negative self-talk
  • Extreme difficulty with criticism and rejection
  • Physical aches and pains that can’t be explained by physical examinations
  • Worsening academic grades
  • Use of substances such as drugs and alcohol
  • General reckless behavior including violence and irresponsible driving
  • Regular thoughts of death and even suicide

How to Support a Teenager With Depression

Knowing the symptoms of teen depression is crucial. However, it’s only the first step! The next all-important part of the process is to take action and help your child along the road to recovery.

Here are a few suggestions for how to support a teenager with depression:

1. Communicate

Try to broach the topic with your teenager in a gentle, compassionate, and empathic way. Talk to them about the symptoms you’ve observed, tell them that you’re worried, and let them know you’re always there to help. Give them the opportunity to explain what’s happening and listen to what they have to say (without interrupting with too many questions).

Knowing how to talk to a teenager about depression isn’t easy, but making the effort is essential. If you can make them feel understood, they’ll a) feel less alone and b) be more likely to open up more in the future.

2. Be Present

One of the hardest parts of teenage depression is the isolation (both real and imagined) that accompanies it. Remember, your child may have withdrawn from their social networks and stopped engaging with the activities they used to enjoy. Spending so much time alone with their own thoughts can exacerbate the negative emotions they’re already going through.

That’s why it’s important to be present for your child as much as possible. You don’t want to be overbearing or burdensome. But you should make time for them, be around to talk with them and make the effort to connect.

3. Encourage and Support Them

Never dismiss your teenager’s feelings- especially when they’ve finally opened up to you. Strive to be a source of support instead and make it your mission to hear, recognize, and validate their feelings. That alone can make an almighty difference in reducing their negative emotional experience.

From there, encourage them (not all the time, but every now and again) to do things that are known to combat depression. Everything from taking a shower and doing light physical exercise to volunteer work and seeing close friends could make a difference. Remind them of their options, encourage them to try, and congratulate them every time they feel up to it.

4. Remember Their Physical Wellbeing

Your teenager’s physical health will have a direct impact on their mental wellbeing. That’s why it’s so important to get them eating right, sleeping enough, and doing enough physical activity. Limiting the amount of time they spend staring at a screen will make a difference too.

Now, convincing a teenager to do all of this can be tough! Through boundaries, effort, and ongoing support, though, you should be able to help them establish a routine that facilitates a healthy lifestyle. With luck, this should translate to improvements in their mental state too.

5. Seek Professional Support for Adolescent Depression

Many parents struggle to distinguish teen depression from the typical experience of being a teenager. However, if your child’s symptoms are severe, long-standing, and an obvious departure from the norm, then they may need professional help.

This is definitely true if/when your teenager has expressed thoughts of suicide. Indeed, the rate of suicide among people aged 10 and 24 increased almost 60% in the 11 years leading up to 2018. Speak to your GP, consult with a mental health professional, and make sure your teen has the number for a suicide helpline.

Seek Support for Teen Depression

Major depression is a scourge of our times. This debilitating mental illness impacts the lives of millions of people every single year- including countless teenagers. Have you started to wonder if your child’s suffering from teen depression?

Well, we hope the warning signs and support suggestions in this article have proved useful. Keep them in mind and you should be one step closer to helping them through whatever negative emotions they’re experiencing.

Are you looking for a recovery center in California for support treating depression in teenagers? At Southern California Sunrise, we have all the skills, experience, and compassion to make a difference. Contact us today to find out more or give us a call at (866) 523-2250.

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