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Teen Depression Is Real: HELP TEENS

This guide will help Teens understand the causes, and recognize the signs of depression


Depression afflicts about 10% of teens In the United States. It can impair the child or adolescent's friendships and school performance. 


Untreated depression has been identified as the leading cause of suicide. Approximately 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood. Depression increases a teen's risk for attempting suicide by 12 times. 30 percent of teens with depression also develop a substance abuse problem.



Depression is serious and if left untreated, can worsen to the point of becoming life-threatening. If depressed teens refuse treatment, it may be necessary for family members or other concerned adults to seek professional advice. 

Teen depression is a risk factor for developing a number of other mental-health symptoms and disorders.

Depressed teens usually have a smaller social circle and take advantage of fewer career and educational opportunities.

It's not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Depression is a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.

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There Are Many Causes of Teen Depression

  1. Academic Stress – Teens are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed academically, especially as the costs of higher education rise and more families are reliant upon scholarships to help offset the expense. Stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause you to become depressed, especially if you’re expected to excel at all costs or are beginning to struggle with your course load.
  2. Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure – During adolescence, you are learning how to navigate the complex and unsettling world of social interaction in new and complicated ways. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for teens that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.
  3. Romantic Problems – In adolescence, romantic entanglements become a much more prominent and influential part of life. From breakups to unrequited affection, there are a plethora of ways in which budding love lives can cause teens to become depressed.
  4. Traumatic Events – The death of a loved one, instances of abuse or other traumatic events can have a very real impact on anyone, causing them to become depressed or overly anxious. In the aftermath of a trauma, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any changes in your behavior or signs of depression.
  5. Separating or Divorcing Parents – Divorced or separated parents might be more common today than it was in generations past, but that doesn’t mean that the situation has no effect on emotional wellbeing. The dissolution of the family unit or even the divorce of a parent and step-parent can be very upsetting for teens, often leading to depression.
  6. Heredity – Some people are genetically predisposed to suffer from depression. If a parent or close relative has issues with depression, you may be suffering from a cruel trick of heredity that makes you more susceptible.
  7. Family Financial Struggles – You may not be a breadwinner in your household or responsible for balancing the budget, but that doesn’t mean that you’re unaffected by a precarious financial situation within the family. Knowing that money is tight can be a very upsetting situation, especially if you’re worried about the possibility of losing your home or the standard of living you’re accustomed to.
  8. Physical or Emotional Neglect – Though you may seem like a fiercely independent being that wants or needs nothing from your parents, you still have emotional and physical needs for attention. The lack of parental attention on either level can lead to feelings of depression.
  9. Low Self-Esteem – Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From a changing body to the appearance of pimples, it can seem as if Mother Nature herself is conspiring against you to negatively affect your level of self-confidence. When the self-esteem level drops below a certain point, it’s not uncommon to become depressed.
  10. Feelings of Helplessness – Knowing that you’re going to be affected on a personal level by things you have no control over can easily throw anyone into the downward spiral of depression. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness often go hand in hand with the struggle with depression, and can make the existing condition even more severe.
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Save Our Teens from Depression

  • Encourage your child’s passions. “The more you can support your children to continue to do things that bring them joy and make them happy and make them feel masterful, the better off they are,” points out Dr. Gudmundsen. This type of support is an important investment in your child’s well-being. Additionally, when teens are down, encourage them to stay involved with friends and school.
  • Model healthy living. Live your life the way you wish your teen would live hers — get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, be physically active, model good relationships, and cope with stress. Also, if you are depressed, seek help — depression in a parent is a risk factor for teenage depression.
  • Insist on regular sleep. Teens whose parents set a 10 p.m. bedtime (and enforce it) are 25 percent less likely to experience teenage depression or suicidal thoughts, according to a study of data from 15,000 adolescents who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Even though your teen may claim to function well as a night owl, you should know she still needs eight or nine hours of sleep a night.
  • Encourage exercise. Getting exercise boosts mood, and the effect can last up to 12 hours.
  • Focus on the good things that happen every day. A recent study shows that people who savor positive experiences every day have a buffer against blue moods and negative emotions.
  • Help your child learn to cope with stress. “Stress is a big risk factor for depression,” explains Gudmundsen. Stress can come from seemingly small daily hassles like juggling homework and friends or from big life changes such as divorce or moving to a new school.
  • Build your child’s belief in his own abilities. The best way to do this is to encourage his interests while at the same time offering specific, positive feedback when he does something well or shows a character trait of which you approve.
  • Increase her feeling of personal control. Take time to point out how your teen’s actions lead to consequences so that she can see when her efforts have an effect. Again, try to emphasize positive events, such as when her hard work and studying lead to a good grade.
  • Help teens to use social support effectively. The shift from following parents’ guidance to following peers is normal, says Gudmundsen. Allow them to make this change, but help them to pick good friends and let them know which problems are still better discussed with an adult.
  • Maintain open lines of communication. Of course this is difficult when your teen barely speaks to you, but Gudmundsen says it is important to let your teen know you are there without being overly aggressive in your daily probing.
  • Stay aware of their functioning.The hallmarks of teenage depression are changes in function — getting unusually poor grades, discontinuing activities that have always been enjoyed, or avoiding friends. “You also want to look for certain persistent situations. If you see a depressed mood or a sad or irritable teen for a day or two, that’s probably okay, but if that kind of sign or symptom occurs with sleep problems, eating problems, or fatigue, and it persists nearly every day for a few weeks, that’s when you want to seek professional help,” advises Gudmundsen.

Signs A Teen is Experiencing Depression

These symptoms may indicate depression, particularly when they last for more than two weeks:

  • Poor performance in school
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Lack of enthusiasm, energy or motivation
  • Anger and rage
  • Overreaction to criticism
  • Feelings of being unable to satisfy ideals
  • Poor self-esteem or guilt
  • Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Substance abuse
  • Problems with authority
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions



W, M. (2013, May 22). 10 Things that may cause teenage depression.  Retrieved from

Depression In Teens. (2017) Retrieved from


Vann, Madeline. (2010, May 3).  Preventing Teenage Depression.  Retrieved from