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Depression May Present Differently with Teens

We often hear about how adults are impacted by depression, but there is a growing concern about the high number of youth reporting signs and symptoms. According to data from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, nearly a third of high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row and 17% seriously considered suicide. It’s important to know the warnings signs, especially those that that are more common for teenagers to experience.

Being a teenager isn’t easy. Teens experience physiological changes which can bring about mood swings and some pretty intense feelings, but clinical depression isn’t the same as your average teenage moodiness. Teens experiencing depression can feel overwhelming sadness, despair, and even anger, and although it’s highly treatable, only one in five depressed teens reportedly receive help.

As a parent, teacher or gatekeeper in a teen’s life, it’s important that you look out for these signs and symptoms of depression. The following symptoms are more commonly found in teenagers:

Being irritable or angry – It’s not uncommon to see irritability replace sadness as the predominant mood in teens that are depressed. Look out for signs your teen is grumpy, hostile, or easily-frustrated.

Having unexplained aches and pains – Depression doesn’t just affect your teen’s mind, it affects their body too. If your teen is frequently complaining about physical ailments such as headaches or stomachaches, it may be time to visit a doctor. If a thorough physical exam does not reveal a medical cause, these aches and pains may indicate depression.

Extreme sensitivity to criticism – Depressed teens often feel worthless, making any criticism, rejection, or failure feel like more of a personal attack.

Withdrawing from others – With adults, we see social isolation as an overt symptom of depression, but with teens it can be a little bit different. Teens who are depressed usually keep up at least some friendships, however if you notice they are socializing less than before or are hanging out with a different crowd, take notice.

If you are noticing these symptoms in your teen, it’s important to take action. Up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning treatment. If left untreated, depression may lead to suicidal ideation. To take a depression screening on behalf of your teen, visit today.



Hotline Information. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2015, from
Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2015, from