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Teen Depression

Updated on July 28, 2015

Although poor sleeping patterns, poor eating habits and moody behavior might seem common place in some teenagers, it can also be a sign of depression among teens when combined with a conglomerate of other symptoms.

According to the National Institutes of Health, one in five U.S. teenagers experience an episode of major depression by the time they reach the age of 18.The World Health Organization ranks major depressive disorder as the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15 to 44. Over one-half of depressed adolescents experience a reoccurrence of depression within a seven year period.

Risks for Teen Depression

Some teenagers are at a greater risk to develop depression than others including those who suffer from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct, learning or anxiety disorders (

Additional risk factors include the following:


Depression in teens is sometimes the result of hereditary factors and is also linked to chemical anomalies. Maternal depression may increase the risk of the child also experiencing depression.

Dysfunctional Family Life

Teens who have limited to no parental support or perhaps are being abused.

Treatment by Peers/Social Status with Peers

Teens who are bullied, treated poorly due to their sexual orientation or treated as outcasts are at an increased risk.

Sleep Patterns

Studies have shown that teens who go to sleep by 10 p.m. each night are less likely to become depressed or have suicidal thoughts


Girls are at a greater risk for depression than boys for various factors as girls reportedly have more body image issues. In one study, it was revealed that 65 percent of girls vs. 34 percent of boys who had poor relationships with their mother had a higher rate of depression.


Teens experiencing depression might exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Loss of enjoyment
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Thoughts of suicide/suicide attempts
  • Social isolation


Treatment may include use of medications or psychotherapy or a combination of both. Antidepressant medication administration is safe however the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has placed a "black box" warning label on all antidepressant medication due to the increased risk for suicidal thinking and/or suicide attempts in youths who are prescribed antidepressants.

Recent research has shown that a “collaborative care” strategy had positive returns. It is thought that because this approach takes advantage of initial face-to-face meetings, continued visits and calls yields the positive outcome. When teens experience difficulty with medications or other areas of their treatment, they have a ready resource of which they can contact for assistance.

Regardless of the treatment plan, parents must also take an active role in helping their children adhere to the chosen method for treatment. This may include ensuring they keep their appointments, learn and talk about depression, They should be monitored for adverse reactions to medication or no response at all to the treatment.


Here are a few resources that you might beneficial in learning more about depression in teens.

NAMI: Depression in Children and Teens

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Source: National Institutes of Health (2014). Team Approach Helps Teen Depression.

© 2014 Mahogany Speaks


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