Teens with Depression: Signs and Symptoms

Benjamin Brafman
January 18, 2013 — 1,624 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

Teens with depression often suffer in silence.  They are unlikely to express their feelings as depression.  Although parents may feel that their teen is just being a "moody" teenager, parents should know that depression is not uncommon in teenagers, but can have a significant impact on a teen's life if left untreated.  Parents and caregivers should look for certain signs and symptoms that may indicate depression in their teen.

Remember, the signs of teenage depression can be very different from adult depression.  A teen with depression is less likely to appear sad or withdrawn; however there are other outward signs that something may be wrong.

What To Look For In Teens With Depression

Irritability. While many adults may characterize teenagers as moody or grumpy, teens with depression are often irritable or hostile.  Occasional outbursts of anger and frustration are common among teens, but teens that suffer from depression may have these outbursts with more regularity than other teens and it may appear to the parent or caregiver to be out of the ordinary.

Unexplained headaches or body achesTeens with depression commonly suffer from headaches or body aches that are unexplained by a physical exam. Frequent dizziness, nausea or stomachaches are also common.

Withdrawal from some people.  Teens with depression may withdrawal from some friends and loved ones, but unlike adults they will maintain a social network.  Switching friends or no longer hanging out with the same crowd may indicate a problem.

A change in eating habits.  Teens with depression are also likely to make noticeable differences to their eating habits.  Eating more than normal, less than normal or being more picky than normal may be a sign that the teen is suffering with depression.  These changes can indicate eating disorders like anorexia or over eating, which can be linked to poor self-esteem and depression.

Thoughts of self-destructive behavior.  Teens with depression may discuss wanting to hurt themselves or take their own life.  This should always be regarded as a cry for help.  Teens may want to discuss their feelings with an adult, so do not shy away from asking questions about self-harm or injury.  If a teen admits to thinking about such behavior, get professional help immediately.

Teens with depression may exhibit one or more of these behaviors or none at all.  As a friend or loved one, you may notice behavior that is out of the ordinary.  If so, try to maintain an open dialogue about the teen's feelings and situation.  Treatment has helped many teens with depression overcome their suffering and go on to leave normal, healthy and productive lives.


Benjamin Brafman

Ben Brafman, LMHC, CAP is the President and CEO of Destination Hope: The Women's Program, a licensed dual diagnosis substance abuse treatment center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ben has more than 20 years of experience in the addiction and mental health fields, which led him to develop a combination of innovative treatment protocols at Destination Hope: The Women's Program. He has been published on various topics including dual diagnosis and chemical dependency, and gives back to the community by educating other addiction counselors at his Academy for Addiction Professionals.