The Difference Between Teen Depression and the Blues

Most teens will be emotional from time to time. In fact, being emotional is a natural expression of adolescence. At this stage of life, teens are more emotional than rational, more impulsive than logical, and more creative than sensible. And this may mean that teens will experience sadness and sorrow from time to time, along with passion and enthusiasm. They may have a general feeling of being down in the dumps. However, a teen who has the blues is not the same as a teen who is depressed. And this article will explain the differences between the two.

When a teen is down in the dumps, they may be experiencing an emotion or mood that will likely change over time. Sadness is an emotion that everyone feels at some point in life. It is a natural feeling to have as a result of certain experiences. Here are some facts to know about sadness and/or having the blues:

  • Sadness will come and go, like most feelings. And being down in the dumps is a mood that will also change.
  • Sadness usually has a specific cause, such as a relationship breakup or not doing as well as one hoped on an exam.
  • Sadness is a healthy feeling that all people experience, regardless of age.
  • Sadness will go away usually after a relatively short period of time, depending upon the cause of sadness.

However, depression is not the same thing as sadness. In fact, sadness may be a symptom of depression, but if a teen is sad, even if for long periods of time, it may not mean that he or she is depressed. Here are some signs to look for if you suspect that your teen is depressed:

  • You see a drop or change in your teen’s grades.
  • You notice that your teen has changed their eating or sleeping habits.
  • You see your teen withdrawing from friends or from doing pleasurable activities.
  • You see that your teen is struggling with feelings of shame or guilt.
  • Your teen seems to have a persistent experience of sadness or unhappiness.
  • Your teen frequently complains about headaches or body aches.
  • Your teen sometimes expresses anger explosively.
  • You notice a change in your teen’s level of energy.

These are signs to look for in a teen who in a teen who is depressed. Of course, if your teen is talking about death or suicide, then he or she may certainly be experiencing depression. If you feel it’s hard to tell whether your teen is sad or depressed, look for whether or not your teen is also showing signs of happiness. As mentioned above, sadness will come and go and may appear between periods of positive emotions. However, a teen who is depressed may show persistent signs of a low mood, low energy, and negative thoughts and feelings.

If this is the case, it’s important to take your teen to be seen by a mental health professional. A therapist or psychologist can screen for depression and make an accurate diagnosis. If your child is in fact diagnosed with depression, then you can move forward with the appropriate treatment.

Keep in mind that if you’re in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of caution by taking your teen to mental health professional.

Further Reading