In Depression, Teens

Identifying the Symptoms of Teenage Depression

Teenage Depression

Depression is a debilitating medical condition that can occur at any age, including in teenagers. Teenage depression goes beyond the typical, stereotyped moody teen, it is a serious problem that can significantly impact every aspect of a teenagers life. A teenager is expected to have the occasional bad day and lash out at parents and/or peers, but the psychological and physical symptoms of depression in teens go well beyond the occasional outbursts and moodiness.

The psychological as well as the physical symptoms of depression in teenagers vary and no two teenagers experience or express depression in the same way. While some of the symptoms are easy to identify, many symptoms of depression are easily missed. It is a misconception that someone who is depressed only wants to sleep or does not want to leave their room, while this is a common symptom of depression, it is also common for someone who is depressed to not want to sleep at all. Teenagers who may depressed can vary greatly in their behaviours, moods and attitude, which is why teen depression is often misinterpreted as simply a teenager being a teenager.

Teenage depression may present itself in several different ways and it is possible for your teen to experience a variety of symptoms. Some of the most common emotional symptoms of  teenage depression include:

  • Serious feelings of sadness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Feelings of despair
  • Loneliness
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Hostility
  • Tearful and/or crying frequently
  • Withdrawaling from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation

The psychological signs of teenage depression are more difficult to identify than the physical signs of depression and regular sadness. If you notice any of the following physical changes in your teenager, it is important to seek medical help for your child as soon as possible. It is important to keep in mind that not everyone will display every psychological or physical symptom of depression.

Teenagers may display signs one day and appear fine the next day, however, your child may be depressed if you notice a pattern of one or more psychological or physical signs of depression.

Physical signs of teenage depression may include:

  • Headaches are a common and serious physical symptom of depression. If you notice your child has been taking excessive amounts of pain relievers or continues to experience chronic or severe headaches, it is important to seek medical attention.
  • Many teenagers who are depressed will suddenly begin to complain about muscle aches, back pain and/or chest pain. Experiencing the physical pains of a heart attack may be related to anxiety, which is a symptom of depression and can lead to more serious health problems if it is not addressed immediately.
  • Stress and depression go hand in hand and one of the most common symptoms of stress is digestive issues. Signs of digestive problems may include diarrhea, cramping, chronic constipation or irritable bowel syndrome.
  • A teenager who is depressed may experience extreme shifts in weight gain or weight loss resulting from a change in their appetite. Children who are depressed may suddenly want to eat more than usual or they may refuse to eat all, either way it can cause serious health problems.
  • Changes in sleeping patterns is a also a sign of depression. The teenager may have difficulties falling asleep or they may want to sleep more than usual. If your child is feeling a sense of hopelessness, it may lead to sleeping more, however, if he is experiencing stress and anxiety with depression, it may cause difficulties in falling asleep.
  • Exhaustion and/or fatigue is a common symptom of depression. If the teen is suffering with sleep deprivation, it significantly intensifies the fatigue and exhaustion, which amplifies the depression.
  • Lightheadedness and/or dizziness may be experienced from a variety of reasons, such as lack of sleep and/or not eating correctly.

Any of these psychological and/or physical symptoms of  teenage depression should be closely monitored. If you suspect your teenager may be depressed, it is vital for the health of the child to talk openly with the teenager about his feelings. One of the most fatal symptoms of depression,is suicide, so if your teenager displays any signs or symptoms of depression, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.


Mayo Clinic

Kids Health

Learn more on how to stop depression


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