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There are as many misconceptions about depression in teenagers as there are about teenagers in general. The teenager years are tough, but most teens balance the normal teen angst with good friendships, academic success and motivation, extra curricular activities, and the development of a strong sense of self. Depression is something different than the expected bad mood and acting out to declare their independence. Depression can destroy the very essence of a teenager’s personality, causing an overwhelming sense of sadness, despair, or anger.

Unlike adults, who have the ability to seek assistance on their own, teenagers usually must rely on parents, teachers, or other caregivers to recognize their suffering and get them the treatment they need. So if you have an adolescent in your life, it’s important to learn what teen depression looks like and what to do if you spot the warning signs.

Teenagers face many daily stressors and pressures, from the changes of puberty to questions about who they are and where they fit in. There is a natural transition from child to adult that brings parental and teen conflict as the teenager starts to assert their independence. It isn’t always easy to differentiate between depression and normal teenage moodiness and drama. Symptoms of depression in teens can be irritability, aggression, and rage.

Here is a list of other symptoms of depression in teens:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death, suicide or self -harm behavior
  • Rebellion, unhealthy or risky behaviors or attitudes in teenagers are actually indications of depression.

Below is a list of ways teenagers try to deal with their depression in unhealthy ways:

School Problems

Teenagers with depression can have low energy and concentration difficulties which can lead to poor attendance, poor grades, or frustration with schoolwork.


With depression may run away from home or talk about running away. This can be a cry for help.

Substance abuse

Teenagers may alcohol or drugs to “self-medicate” their depression. The substance abuse can exaggerate the symptoms.

Low self-esteem

Depression can intensify feelings of shame and guilt, failure, unworthiness or poor perception of self.Eating disorders Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, extreme dieting can be signs of unrecognized depression.

Internet/Computer addiction

Teens may use internet or computer to escape their feelings of depression, but excessive computer use only increases their isolation and makes resulting in more depression symptoms.


Cutting, burning, and other kinds of self-mutilation are almost always associated with depression.

Reckless behavior

Teens with depression may engage in dangerous or high-risk behaviors, such as reckless driving, out-of-control drinking, and unsafe sex.


Some depressed teens (usually boys who are the victims of bullying) become violent.

Suicide/Self harm

Teens who are seriously depressed often think, speak, or make “attention-seeking” attempts at suicide. Suicidal thoughts or behaviors should always be taken seriously.

Treatment options for your teen

There are many different treatment options for your teen. Several approaches are used for best results. Logan River Academy uses cognitive behavioral, psycho-educational, group, and individual therapy along with medication assessment and management. Teenagers will receive cognitive behavioral and psycho-educational therapy in group, individual and family therapies. In the different therapies the teenager will explore what triggers and exaggerates the depressive symptoms, the behavioral and emotional patterns that are often repeated. The teen will identify the depressive patterns and how to use the supports and skills provided and manage and reduce the symptoms. The teen will further explore how to manage the depression and symptoms if they should return in years to come or in adulthood. In family therapy the parents or caregivers will learn how to identify the symptoms and provide support for their teen. Because depression often is accompanied by family conflict for the teen and parents, the relationship between the teen and parents/caregivers will also be addressed in therapy.