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Teens are known for being moody, acting out, and other less-than-pleasant behavior. It’s a natural part of this stage of life. But clinical depression affects a significant number of adolescents, and it isn’t a normal part of life that should just be waited out. In fact, the teen years are a common age of onset for depression. Because it interferes with quality of life and performance, because it increases the risk of suicide, and because professional help is generally needed for treatment, it’s important that parents can spot the warning signs and symptoms of depression in teenagers.

Just because your teen exhibits one or two of these symptoms of depression in teenagers, that doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is suffering from clinical depression. However, if you notice several of them, or if even one or two are chronic and/or severe enough that they’re interfering with your child’s quality of life or performance at school, sports, or other activities, schedule an appointment with a mental health professional.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Teenagers

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, frustration, loneliness, guilt, emptiness, worthlessness, hopelessness, self-hatred, etc.
  • Inability to feel happiness, enjoyment, pleasure, etc.
  • Excessive self-blame or self-criticism
  • Increased irritability, outbursts, or mood swings
  • Worsening school performance or attendance—especially suddenly dropping grades
  • Worsening performance or attendance with sports or extracurriculars; dropping out of these kinds of activities
  • Loss of interest in activities they once found enjoyable
  • Withdrawing from hanging out with friends and participating in social activities
  • Paying less attention to appearance or hygiene
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Appetite changes
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviors
  • Self-mutilation
  • Expressing disinterest or hopelessness about the future
  • Talking often about death and dying
  • Talking about or threatening suicide

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