For Teens: Do I Have Depression?

Reviewed Apr 6, 2017

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Summary

  • Teens can have depression and adults can learn how to find out what to do about it.
  • Depression can be successfully treated.
  • Help is available.

If you are reading this, perhaps you are feeling depressed, blue, or sad. Everyone will experience sad feelings at some point in their life. It is actually normal and common.

What is most important is getting help. Formal depression is a very treatable problem, and by reading this, you have taken the first step to getting the help that will make life better for you.

It can be hard for adults to realize that teens can have depression. Many of them may think or even say, “What do you have to be depressed about?” However, things other than life events can cause it. Many people are simply born with a likelihood of becoming this way, no matter what happens in their lives. But no matter the cause, help is available. 

How do you know if it is depression or just a bad day?

The problems you have must happen often, such as for most of every day, for at least two weeks. Chances are your parent(s) or guardian(s) or siblings or friends will also notice that you are having problems in important activities of your life. This can be dropping grades in school, getting into fights or arguments with others, or not taking care of chores and duties at home.

For some, you may not be as interested in activities that you used to enjoy, or maybe you no longer want to be with friends or loved ones that you used to. All of these may be signs of depression. Also, teen girls are two to three times more likely to have it as boys are.

It is also important to know that if you have more angry outbursts, feel agitated, cranky, feel that others are causing problems for you, or feeling like you are being mistreated by others, or are more easily frustrated, all of these feelings can be part of feeling depressed, too.

Perhaps you don’t feel as well as you used to or you prefer to be by yourself these days. Or you feel more irritated by things. Maybe you are more sluggish and tired, maybe you sleep more and you feel like things aren’t as they used to be or should be. These can also go along with depression. 

Other signs to look for in your behaviors and mood:

  • Inability to sit still or be still
  • Feeling like your thinking is slower than it used to be
  • Talking slower or preferring not to talk at all
  • Problems with paying attention
  • Problems remembering things
  • Feeling bad about yourself or who you are
  • Feeling unworthy of being loved or not valued by others
  • Feeling guilty for things you did in the past
  • Blaming yourself a lot
  • Feeling like crying a lot
  • Feeling irritable and on edge
  • Focusing a lot on an upsetting thought
  • Feeling anxious, worried, or afraid
  • Having stomachaches, headaches, and other aches and pains
  • Problems at school (like skipping) or with grades (like failing)
  • Drug or alcohol use or increased use
  • Differences in how you typically eat; decreased appetite or increased appetite, often for sweets, carbs, or "comfort foods”
  • Thoughts of death or taking your own life
  • Making plans to kill yourself or actually trying to

What do I do about it?

Let others know. For many teens it may be their parents or guardians. If that isn’t an option for you, talk about your feelings with a trusted adult like your coach, counselor at school, minister or rabbi, favorite teacher (even if you are no longer in his class), a mentor, your doctor, a close friend’s parent(s) or guardian(s), or a free help-line counselor.

You do not need to deal with these feelings alone. There is a lot of help out there that really works, including various types of talk therapy and/or medications.

Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(800) 273-TALK (8255)

National Hopeline Network
(800) 784-2433

By Chris E. Stout, PsyD, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago
Source: Beardslee WR, Gladstone TR. Prevention of childhood depression: recent findings and future prospects. Biol Psychiatry. 2001;49:1101-1110; Bonin L. Depression in adolescents: epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis, www.uptodate.com/contents/depression-in-adolescents-epidemiology-clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis; Carlson GA. The challenge of diagnosing depression in childhood and adolescence. J Affect Disord. December 2000;61(suppl 1):3-8; Castiglia PT. Depression in children. J Pediatr Health Care. March-April 2000;14:73-75; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). American Psychiatric Association, 1999; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1MDD_CHILD.shtml; Synopsis of Psychiatry by Benjamin J. Sadock, Virginia A. Sadock and Pedro Ruiz, MD, LWW, 11th edition, 2014.
Reviewed by Steven T. Batton, DO, Medical Director, ValueOptions Federal Division

Summary

  • Teens can have depression and adults can learn how to find out what to do about it.
  • Depression can be successfully treated.
  • Help is available.

If you are reading this, perhaps you are feeling depressed, blue, or sad. Everyone will experience sad feelings at some point in their life. It is actually normal and common.

What is most important is getting help. Formal depression is a very treatable problem, and by reading this, you have taken the first step to getting the help that will make life better for you.

It can be hard for adults to realize that teens can have depression. Many of them may think or even say, “What do you have to be depressed about?” However, things other than life events can cause it. Many people are simply born with a likelihood of becoming this way, no matter what happens in their lives. But no matter the cause, help is available. 

How do you know if it is depression or just a bad day?

The problems you have must happen often, such as for most of every day, for at least two weeks. Chances are your parent(s) or guardian(s) or siblings or friends will also notice that you are having problems in important activities of your life. This can be dropping grades in school, getting into fights or arguments with others, or not taking care of chores and duties at home.

For some, you may not be as interested in activities that you used to enjoy, or maybe you no longer want to be with friends or loved ones that you used to. All of these may be signs of depression. Also, teen girls are two to three times more likely to have it as boys are.

It is also important to know that if you have more angry outbursts, feel agitated, cranky, feel that others are causing problems for you, or feeling like you are being mistreated by others, or are more easily frustrated, all of these feelings can be part of feeling depressed, too.

Perhaps you don’t feel as well as you used to or you prefer to be by yourself these days. Or you feel more irritated by things. Maybe you are more sluggish and tired, maybe you sleep more and you feel like things aren’t as they used to be or should be. These can also go along with depression. 

Other signs to look for in your behaviors and mood:

  • Inability to sit still or be still
  • Feeling like your thinking is slower than it used to be
  • Talking slower or preferring not to talk at all
  • Problems with paying attention
  • Problems remembering things
  • Feeling bad about yourself or who you are
  • Feeling unworthy of being loved or not valued by others
  • Feeling guilty for things you did in the past
  • Blaming yourself a lot
  • Feeling like crying a lot
  • Feeling irritable and on edge
  • Focusing a lot on an upsetting thought
  • Feeling anxious, worried, or afraid
  • Having stomachaches, headaches, and other aches and pains
  • Problems at school (like skipping) or with grades (like failing)
  • Drug or alcohol use or increased use
  • Differences in how you typically eat; decreased appetite or increased appetite, often for sweets, carbs, or "comfort foods”
  • Thoughts of death or taking your own life
  • Making plans to kill yourself or actually trying to

What do I do about it?

Let others know. For many teens it may be their parents or guardians. If that isn’t an option for you, talk about your feelings with a trusted adult like your coach, counselor at school, minister or rabbi, favorite teacher (even if you are no longer in his class), a mentor, your doctor, a close friend’s parent(s) or guardian(s), or a free help-line counselor.

You do not need to deal with these feelings alone. There is a lot of help out there that really works, including various types of talk therapy and/or medications.

Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(800) 273-TALK (8255)

National Hopeline Network
(800) 784-2433

By Chris E. Stout, PsyD, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago
Source: Beardslee WR, Gladstone TR. Prevention of childhood depression: recent findings and future prospects. Biol Psychiatry. 2001;49:1101-1110; Bonin L. Depression in adolescents: epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis, www.uptodate.com/contents/depression-in-adolescents-epidemiology-clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis; Carlson GA. The challenge of diagnosing depression in childhood and adolescence. J Affect Disord. December 2000;61(suppl 1):3-8; Castiglia PT. Depression in children. J Pediatr Health Care. March-April 2000;14:73-75; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). American Psychiatric Association, 1999; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1MDD_CHILD.shtml; Synopsis of Psychiatry by Benjamin J. Sadock, Virginia A. Sadock and Pedro Ruiz, MD, LWW, 11th edition, 2014.
Reviewed by Steven T. Batton, DO, Medical Director, ValueOptions Federal Division

Summary

  • Teens can have depression and adults can learn how to find out what to do about it.
  • Depression can be successfully treated.
  • Help is available.

If you are reading this, perhaps you are feeling depressed, blue, or sad. Everyone will experience sad feelings at some point in their life. It is actually normal and common.

What is most important is getting help. Formal depression is a very treatable problem, and by reading this, you have taken the first step to getting the help that will make life better for you.

It can be hard for adults to realize that teens can have depression. Many of them may think or even say, “What do you have to be depressed about?” However, things other than life events can cause it. Many people are simply born with a likelihood of becoming this way, no matter what happens in their lives. But no matter the cause, help is available. 

How do you know if it is depression or just a bad day?

The problems you have must happen often, such as for most of every day, for at least two weeks. Chances are your parent(s) or guardian(s) or siblings or friends will also notice that you are having problems in important activities of your life. This can be dropping grades in school, getting into fights or arguments with others, or not taking care of chores and duties at home.

For some, you may not be as interested in activities that you used to enjoy, or maybe you no longer want to be with friends or loved ones that you used to. All of these may be signs of depression. Also, teen girls are two to three times more likely to have it as boys are.

It is also important to know that if you have more angry outbursts, feel agitated, cranky, feel that others are causing problems for you, or feeling like you are being mistreated by others, or are more easily frustrated, all of these feelings can be part of feeling depressed, too.

Perhaps you don’t feel as well as you used to or you prefer to be by yourself these days. Or you feel more irritated by things. Maybe you are more sluggish and tired, maybe you sleep more and you feel like things aren’t as they used to be or should be. These can also go along with depression. 

Other signs to look for in your behaviors and mood:

  • Inability to sit still or be still
  • Feeling like your thinking is slower than it used to be
  • Talking slower or preferring not to talk at all
  • Problems with paying attention
  • Problems remembering things
  • Feeling bad about yourself or who you are
  • Feeling unworthy of being loved or not valued by others
  • Feeling guilty for things you did in the past
  • Blaming yourself a lot
  • Feeling like crying a lot
  • Feeling irritable and on edge
  • Focusing a lot on an upsetting thought
  • Feeling anxious, worried, or afraid
  • Having stomachaches, headaches, and other aches and pains
  • Problems at school (like skipping) or with grades (like failing)
  • Drug or alcohol use or increased use
  • Differences in how you typically eat; decreased appetite or increased appetite, often for sweets, carbs, or "comfort foods”
  • Thoughts of death or taking your own life
  • Making plans to kill yourself or actually trying to

What do I do about it?

Let others know. For many teens it may be their parents or guardians. If that isn’t an option for you, talk about your feelings with a trusted adult like your coach, counselor at school, minister or rabbi, favorite teacher (even if you are no longer in his class), a mentor, your doctor, a close friend’s parent(s) or guardian(s), or a free help-line counselor.

You do not need to deal with these feelings alone. There is a lot of help out there that really works, including various types of talk therapy and/or medications.

Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(800) 273-TALK (8255)

National Hopeline Network
(800) 784-2433

By Chris E. Stout, PsyD, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago
Source: Beardslee WR, Gladstone TR. Prevention of childhood depression: recent findings and future prospects. Biol Psychiatry. 2001;49:1101-1110; Bonin L. Depression in adolescents: epidemiology, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis, www.uptodate.com/contents/depression-in-adolescents-epidemiology-clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis; Carlson GA. The challenge of diagnosing depression in childhood and adolescence. J Affect Disord. December 2000;61(suppl 1):3-8; Castiglia PT. Depression in children. J Pediatr Health Care. March-April 2000;14:73-75; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR). American Psychiatric Association, 1999; National Institute of Mental Health, www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1MDD_CHILD.shtml; Synopsis of Psychiatry by Benjamin J. Sadock, Virginia A. Sadock and Pedro Ruiz, MD, LWW, 11th edition, 2014.
Reviewed by Steven T. Batton, DO, Medical Director, ValueOptions Federal Division

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