Recognizing teen depression
One in five teenagers have depression at some point. Your teen may be depressed if they are feeling sad, blue, unhappy, or down in the dumps. Depression is a serious problem, even more so if these feelings have taken over your teen's life.
Be Aware of the Risk for Teen Depression
Your teen is more at risk for depression if:
Know the Symptoms of Depression
If your teen is depressed, you may see some of the following common symptoms of depression. If these symptoms last for 2 weeks or longer, talk to your teen's doctor.
Notice changes in your teen's daily routines that can be a sign of depression. Your teen's daily routines can change when they are depressed. You may notice that your teen has:
Changes in your teen's behavior may also be a sign of depression. They could be having problems at home or school:
Teens with depression may also have:
Bring Your Teen to a Health Care Provider
If you are worried that your teen is depressed, see a health care provider. The provider may perform a physical exam and order blood tests to make sure your teen does not have a medical problem.
The provider should talk to your teen about:
The provider should ask about drug or alcohol abuse. Depressed teens are at risk for:
The provider may speak with other family members or your teen's teachers. These people can often help identify signs of depression in teenagers.
Be alert to any signs of suicide plans. Notice if your teen is:
Call your provider or a suicide hotline right away if you are worried that your teen is thinking about suicide. Never ignore a suicide threat or attempt.
Call 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-999-9999. You can call 24/7 anywhere in the United States.
Identify Your Teen's Depression Early
Most teenagers feel down sometimes. Having support and good coping skills helps teens through down periods.
Talk with your teen often. Ask them about their feelings. Talking about depression will not make the situation worse, and may help them to get help sooner.
Get your teen professional help to deal with low moods. Treating depression early may help them feel better sooner, and may prevent or delay future episodes.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider, if you notice any of the following in your teen:
American Psychiatric Association. Major depressive disorder. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013:160-168.
Bostic JQ, Prince JB, Buxton DC. Child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 69.
Siu AL; US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for depression in children and adolescents: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2016;164(5):360-366. PMID: 26858097 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26858097.
Review Date: 10/7/2018
Reviewed By: Ryan James Kimmel, MD, Medical Director of Hospital Psychiatry at the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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