Teen depression is a serious mental health issue, causing a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest in activities. Not only does it affect how they think, feel, and behave, but it can cause debilitating emotional, physical, and functional problems.

Why Are So Many Teens Depressed?

According to suicide.org, teen and adolescent suicides have continued to rise dramatically in recent years. Consider these staggering figures:

  • A teen takes their own life every 100 minutes
  • Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24
  • About 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood
  • Between 10 to 15 percent suffer from depression symptoms at any one time
  • Only 30 percent of depressed teens are being treated for depression

Issues like peer pressure, changing bodies, and academic expectations can create ups and downs for teens. But for some, the lows are more than temporary feelings — they’re a symptom of depression. Although depression can occur at any time in life, symptoms may be different between teens and adults.

Symptoms of Depression in Teens

Teen depression can cause significant distress and problems at school or home, in social activities, or in other areas of life. The signs and symptoms can vary in severity, but changes in your teen’s emotions and behavior may include:

  • Feelings of sadness, anger, or frustration, even over small matters
  • Feeling hopeless, emptiness, worthlessness, or guilt
  • Irritability or annoyed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
  • Conflict with family and friends
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fixation on past failures
  • Exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering
  • Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak
  • Frequent thoughts of death, dying, or suicide
  • Tiredness and loss of energy
  • Sleeping too much
  • Changes in appetite
  • Use of alcohol or drugs
  • Social isolation
  • Poor school performance or frequent absences from school
  • Less attention to personal hygiene or appearance
  • Self-harm, such as cutting or burning

It can be difficult to tell the difference between the ups and downs of being a teenager and depression. Take the time to talk with your teen and ask questions. Remember that teen depression isn’t a weakness, but it’s not something that can be overcome with sheer willpower. It can have serious consequences and often requires long-term treatment.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If depression symptoms are interfering with your teen’s life or causing you to have concerns about your teen’s safety, it’s best to talk to a healthcare provider or a mental health professional. Your family medicine specialist or pediatrician is a good place to start, or your teen’s school may recommend someone. For most teens, symptoms ease with treatment, such as medication and psychological counseling, so don’t give up hope!