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Top 10 Signs of Depression in Teens

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2011 about 8.2 percent of minors between the ages of 12 and 17 suffered from depression, and the majority of those don’t receive any form of treatment for the problem. This underlines the importance of recognizing the symptoms of depression in your teen; otherwise it’s less likely that he or she will receive help. Learning the top 10 signs of depression in teens helps you identify the problem, but it’s important to exercise caution because many of the symptoms have a definite overlap with ordinary teen behavior.

10: Lack of Energy and Motivation

You may notice that your teen has become more apathetic in general if he or she is depressed. Your son or daughter may be spending excessive amounts of time in bed, or even moving more slowly in general.

9: Trouble With Schoolwork

One of the most easily identifiable signs of lack of motivation is declining grades at school. If your son or daughter’s grades have slipped notably, ask yourself whether the work has gotten significantly more difficult or if something else may be to blame.

8: Sleep Pattern Changes

Teens struggling with depression may become more active in the night, and might struggle to get up for school in the morning. It’s always a good idea to look for excessive tiredness in the morning, and if you recognize it, you can ask her if she had trouble sleeping to determine the cause of the issue.

7: Appetite Changes

Either significant weight gain or sudden weight loss can be symptoms of depression. Since some teens may “comfort eat,” weight gain could be an important sign. However, it’s also possible that the apathy could lead to him or her losing interest in eating, so weight loss may be a symptom too.

6: Unexplained Aches and Pains

According to, teens going through depression may experience things like headaches and stomachaches that have no clear medical cause. If your teen has constant aches and pains with no explanation, he might be depressed.

5: Abrupt Loss of Interest in Sports or Activities

If your son or daughter used to enjoy playing football or going to the movies but abruptly lost interest in his or her activities, this could also be a symptom of depression. Changing interests are normal, but it usually happens gradually.

4: Social Withdrawal

Socializing is one of the most important parts of a teen’s life, but if your daughter’s friend group has rapidly shrunk, it could be a sign of a deeper problem. Teens are likely to keep some friends during depression (unlike adults, who may withdraw entirely), but a rapid reduction in socializing is an important symptom to be aware of.

3: Suicidal Thoughts, Obsession With Death and Low Self Esteem

Depression makes you feel worthless, and the accompanying suicidal thoughts and obsession with the morbid are outward signs to look out for. This is one of the harder signs to recognize (since such thoughts are unlikely to be shared), but comments like “you’d be better off without me” are a definite tip-off.

2: Sensitivity to Criticism

Exaggerated reactions are one of the hallmarks of being a teenager, but overly sensitive responses to criticism could provide an indication that your teen is feeling particularly low.

1: Irritability, Anger and Feelings of Hopelessness

The idea that a depressed teen will be typically morose and melancholy is something of a misconception. In fact, irritability and anger could well be the dominant emotions your teen displays if he or she is depressed. Additionally, you may notice a pessimistic view of the world—or life itself—as “hopeless” in a depressed teen.


There are many typical signs of depression, but it’s important to remember that every teen is different. Spotting depression isn’t easy, but if you notice several of these symptoms in your son or daughter, it may be time to try to initiate an open and honest conversation about how he or she is feeling, and if needed, to get him or her further support.

Posted on January 23rd, 2014
Posted in Depression

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