What Depression Can Do To Teens

When a teen is having a hard time, especially if they’re not really sure why, they might try to find ways to make themselves feel better. For instance, if a teen is experiencing depression, they may turn to drugs to change their mood. They may want to stay at home more often and skip their classes, and they might even engage in some risky behavior, like unprotected sex.

Because some families don’t give emphasis to thoughts and feelings, some teens might grow up in a household that pays more attention to productivity, activities, and schedules. There might be little attention on relationships, feelings, and thoughts. A teen might be especially vulnerable to depression  if a parent is also depressed, or has another form of mental illness. Other contributors of depression in teens include:

  • a teen’s history includes trauma
  • a teen has experienced other forms of mental illness
  • a teen has a history of addiction
  • there is a history of depression in the family

If a teen is experiencing the symptoms of depression, they might exhibit the following behavior:

Drug Use

Often, drugs are way for teens to escape, which might be the best coping mechanism they have. Drugs provide a high and can make life feel different than the depressive symptoms teens are used to feeling.

Poor School Performance

Another symptom of depression is lack of concentration. Without the ability to concentrate performing well academically can become challenge.

Social Issues

Depression also comes with feelings of worthlessness, frequent validation, and attention from others. These can create dysfunctional and risky relationships, vulnerability to fall under peer pressure, and social withdrawal.

Reckless Behavior

Teens who are not emotionally stable might engage in risky behavior providing them with a means for feeling different and escaping their internal experience. This can lead to making risky choices, such as unprotected sex.

Parents of teens who are seeing any of the above in their teen should keep in mind that these behaviors are symptoms of adolescence but of depression. Just because you may not have suspected depression in the past, you might want to consider it now. In fact, there is no typical picture of depression in teens. However, parents can look for some of the classic signs such as:

  • sadness/frequent low mood
  • lack of concentration
  • feelings of guilt or shame
  • withdrawing from friends and family
  • losing interest in activities that a teen once liked

Sometimes, instead of a low mood, a depressed teen might exhibit moodiness. Although teens experience moodiness as a regular part of adolescence, with depression, there might be a large swing of moods, which may happen regularly for a significant period of time. Also, some teens may experience feelings of agitation and irritability as common symptoms of depression.

If you have a sense that your teen may be experiencing depression, consider getting your teen assessed by a mental health professional. If your teen is diagnosed, treatment can help. A teen can return to a healthy level of functioning at school, home, and work. It’s important to know is that depression is best treated with a combination of both medication and therapy. Both treatment forms are necessary for a safe, effective recovery.

If you see the above signs in your teen, contact a mental health provider today.


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