BEHAVIOUR

Our Guide to Teenage Depression Symptoms and Helping a Depressed Teen

Contents

  1. Is your teenager depressed? 
  2. Why do many teenagers feel depressed? 
  3. What are the main teenage depression symptoms? 
  4. Is it normal for teenagers to be depressed all the time? 
  5. How can I help my teenager with depression?


Adolescence can be a turbulent time for many children and teenagers. Plenty of parents around the UK are worried about their children seeming down or struggling with their mental health, and are wondering how to help a teenager with depression. Parenting teenagers isn’t always easy, and talking about mental health with your child can be difficult. If you’re unsure of how to help a teenager with depression, our overview will help guide you through this difficult patch with your child.anxiety teen girl sad depression

Is your teenager depressed? 

 

If the sight of a sad teenager is becoming increasingly common in your house, you may be asking yourself, “is my teenager depressed?”. Depression occurs fairly often in teenagers, though these issues don’t necessarily constitute a long-term mental health problem as long as it is taken seriously early on. Seeing a sad teenager is difficult for many parents, and many parents and caretakers of teenagers find themselves unsure of how to deal with teenage depression. 

Teenage anxiety and depression is quite common among British teenagers, as adolescence can be a challenging time for many young people. Depression in girls is more common than in boys – in fact, teenage girls experience symptoms of depression at about twice the rate boys do. It’s not unusual for parents to see a sad teenage girl around the house without knowing quite what to do to help.

If you believe you have an unhappy teenage daughter who needs help sorting through her emotions and overcoming depression, it’s important to do your best to support her. If you find yourself wondering, “how do I help my daughter with depression?”, you’re likely already a supportive parent with your child’s best interest at heart. 

While girls tend to experience depression more frequently, depression in boys is also fairly common. Young people of any gender can develop teenage depression symptoms, and it’s important to keep an eye out for signals that your child is struggling. 

If you’ve identified symptoms of teenage depression in your teenager, the next question on your mind is likely “how to help my daughter with depression?” Luckily, there are a number of steps you can take to help your teenager through this rough patch.

A great first step to helping your depressed teen is to acknowledge what is happening. Experiencing depression isn’t the same as sometimes feeling sad or downhearted, and it’s important to understand this distinction. 

Teenage anxiety and depression is usually something that can be handled well with the help of a supportive family, and a young person can occasionally experience symptoms of depression without it being a major issue in their everyday lives.

However, some teenagers may struggle a lot with depression, anxiety or other issues related to mental health. As a parent, looking out for the signs and accepting that there is an issue is key to helping your child through this challenging time. 

 

Why do many teenagers feel depressed? 

 

Depression is quite common among teenagers because adolescence can be a difficult and turbulent time. Teenagers are dealing with many changes to their bodies and minds, and are developing their understanding of the world and their place in it. With a lot going on in their minds, it’s common for teenagers to sometimes feel low, irritable or sad. 

However, if negative emotions persist for a longer period of time, teenagers may be experiencing depression. Depression is a mood disorder that involves persistent feelings of low mood and sadness.

Issues that increase the risk of depression in children and teenagers may include: 

Depression in children and teenagers can be triggered by a particular event or issue, or it can develop gradually for a number of reasons. Some children are more sensitive than others and feel things more deeply, which may leave them more vulnerable to experiencing difficult emotions that lead to depression or other mental health problems. 

If you’d like to help your depressed teen, the first step is to talk to them about how they’re feeling and being sensitive about what they’re going through. You should also be aware that there may be something going on with your child that you don’t know about – for example, they may be questioning their gender identity, struggling to make friends or being bullied without your knowledge. 

 

What are the main teenage depression symptoms? 

 

The main symptoms of depression in teens relate to changes in their behaviour, emotions and communication patterns. For parents, it can be difficult to differentiate between issues that are normal for teenagers, such as moodiness, and signs that their child may be experiencing depression. 

The main symptoms of depression in teenagers include: 

  • Becoming quiet and withdrawn
  • Feeling tired and exhausted a lot 
  • Crying a lot or seeming numb or blank
  • Persistent negative emotions and moods
  • Low self-esteem
  • Losing interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Problems at school 
  • Struggling to sleep or sleeping too much 
  • Eating more or less than normal
  • Increased irritability and anger

Most teenagers showing symptoms of depression are able to find their way back to wellbeing without their depression becoming severe. 

However, if they aren’t able to get help with what’s troubling them and depression persists, teenagers’ mental health issues may worsen. Signs of more severe depression and mental health issues in teenagers may include: 

  • Isolating from friends and family 
  • Losing hope in the future
  • Angry outbursts and violence 
  • Abusing alcohol and/or drugs 
  • Frequently thinking and talking about death
  • Self-harming
  • Considering suicide


If you believe that your teenager may be suffering with severe depression, it’s important to take this very seriously. Your teen may need more specialised help than you are able to provide, and some people also need medication in order to regulate their mood and find balance in their lives. We recommend that you speak to your GP for guidance on your child’s individual circumstances and how you can best support them. 

 

Is it normal for teenagers to be depressed all the time? 

 

Many teenagers struggle with moodiness, sadness and low mood, but it isn’t normal for a teenager to feel depressed most or all of the time. 

As human beings, we all feel sad, downhearted or angry sometimes, and during adolescence, it’s common to have mood swings. However, it’s important for parents to spot the difference between normal sadness and symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. Some children and young people may need counselling, medication or other measures to help them through the issues they’re struggling with. 

For parents, acknowledging that what is happening isn’t just normal sadness and feeling down is key. It can be difficult to face the issue head on, but admitting to yourself “my son is depressed” or “my daughter is depressed” is an important step towards helping them overcome their depression. 

Some young people may be struggling with mental health issues that go beyond sometimes feeling sad and downhearted, and many parents find themselves wondering how to help a teenager with anxiety and depression. While those caring for teenagers may feel that it can be difficult to get through to them, it’s integral that you keep trying to help them and show your support for whatever they’re going through. 

 

How can I help my teenager with depression?

 

The love and support of parents and caretakers are key in helping a depressed teenager overcome their worries. It’s important to talk to your teenager about what they might be going through and observe how they seem to be doing at home, at school and with their friends. Taking mental health issues seriously is key to finding the best course of action when it comes to helping young people who are struggling with depression, anxiety or other problems. 

You may find that your teenager is difficult to get through to, and it’s important that you approach them in a kind, non-judgmental way in order to make them feel secure in opening up to you. Keep in mind that what they’re struggling with may be complex and challenging, and they may need extra love, support and reassurance to help them through this difficult time. 

Be sure to keep a close eye on symptoms of depression you’ve identified in your child, and take appropriate action if you believe your child’s mental health is deteriorating. If you’re worried that your teen may be depressed and that their mood isn’t improving, taking them to see their GP is a good idea. The doctor will be able to assess their needs and refer them to their local children and young people’s mental health services (CYPMHS) if necessary. 

As a parent, helping a depressed teenager can become a very big focus. While you’re working on helping your child through this difficult time, it’s important to not lose track of your own needs and wellbeing. Depression is certainly common among adults too, and a depressed mum or dad will have a more difficult time helping their teenager overcome these issues. It’s therefore important to take care of yourself as well as your teenager. 

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