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All You Need to Know About Teen Depression, From Causes to Coping

Depression is more than just feeling sad. It’s a real medical condition that can drastically affect the life of a person if it is not treated properly.

Teen depression is mostly similar to adult depression with some differences in how the kids express their symptoms.

Depression can come from all sources, including childhood trauma, stress at school, or just deficiencies in brain neurons as they grow into adulthood.

It can be hard to catch the signs of teen depression as a parent because you might write off their behavior as being bored or disinterested.

Depression is more than boredom or a disinterest in school.

All You Need to Know About Teen Depression, From Causes to Coping

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), symptoms of teen depression include:

  • Being depressed, sad, tearful, or irritable
  • Their enjoyment of things has decreased
  • Not spending as much time with friends or after-school activities
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Getting more or less sleep than usual
  • Having less energy or feeling tired
  • Having the feeling that everything is their fault or that they are not good at anything
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • A lack of interest in school or poor performance at school
  • Consideration of suicide or the desire to die
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches

Not all these symptoms are always indicators of depression.

Due to growth spurts, some teens might eat more or less at times.

And we all know that many teens just need more sleep.

Every individual is unique and their needs should be addressed appropriately.

It’s important to keep a close eye on our teen’s behavior to assess the risk of possible self-injury before it happens.

The risk factors for teen depression include:

  • Having a family crisis, such as a death or divorce
  • The difficulties of their sexual orientation in the case of teens who are LGBTQIA+ (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queers, intersex, asexuals, etc.).
  • Having difficulty adjusting to social situations
  • Lacking social or emotional support
  • Being raised in a violent household
  • Being bullied
  • Being ill with a chronic condition

The risks of depression are especially high in teens who struggle socially or lack a support system.

Although there are medications that can help your teen if diagnosed with depression, there are several things we can do at home to help.

Lifestyle changes may help relieve some feelings of depression.

  • Get more exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid processed foods high in sugar
  • Drink less caffeine
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Keep life simple
  • Set realistic expectations and goals

Key Takeaways:

  • Teen depression is much like adult depression but the symptoms can manifest in different ways since the brain is still developing.
  • You might think that your child is just bored or exhibiting normal carefree behavior, but it’s important to pay attention to signs such as low energy or low confidence.
  • Depression can be caused by a traumatic experience at a young age, but can also just develop because they haven’t developed the neurotransmitters for healthy brain function.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), around 3.2 million Americans between 12 and 17 years old had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. They represent 13.3 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in the United States.healthline.com

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Written By

As a mom of two boys, I've been through the many ups and downs that parenting brings. However, I absolutely love reading and learning about better ways to communicate with my teens. I try to understand what they might be going through in their various stages of development. Communication, understanding, kindness, respect, and leading with love can help us maintain a positive bond with our children, from toddlers to teens and beyond.

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