What is Depression in Teens?

While it’s natural for teens (and all of us) to feel sad or low at certain times in our lives, depression is a much more serious issue. Depression is a very real mental health condition that affects millions of people of all ages. But depression can be particularly harmful for teens who may not have the experience or resources to effectively respond to this mental health problem. 

Luckily, there are treatment options available. From residential treatment center for teens to medication or therapy, there are multiple avenues to seek out to get your teen the help that they need. Here, we’re taking a closer look at teen depression, exploring some of the common warning signs, and finally, discussing how this common mental health problem is also a very treatable one as well. 

What is Teen Depression?

As previously noted, clinical depression is much more than simply feeling sad for a day or two. Experiencing depression can make your daily routine tiresome and challenging and force you to withdraw from the people and activities that you formerly loved.

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), depression, or major depressive disorder, can be understood as a “common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and even how you act.” While often expressed as an intensive feeling of sadness or isolation, depression in teens can also be seen through anger, erratic behavior, and irritability.

If left unchecked and untreated, teen depression can lead to additional, serious health complications and risks, including problems in school, substance abuse and addiction, or even self-harm and thoughts of suicide. This is why, if you suspect your teen is suffering from depression, it’s essential to begin the conversation to help them and ensure that they receive the support they need. 

Warning Signs of Depression in Teens

While everyone’s journey through depression is unique, there are many common warning signs that can help a parent or friend recognize the emergence of this mental health disorder. The severity of the issue, the individual’s environment, and their support system can all alter how depression affects someone. But by understanding some of the most common warning signs of depression, you can be better prepared to recognize this mental health problem, and thus, take action early before it gets even worse.

Some of the most common symptoms of teen depression include:

  • Intense feelings of sadness.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • A need to isolate.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Feeling hopeless.
  • Changes to eating habits.
  • Irritability or anger.
  • Difficulty maintaining quality relationships.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Thoughts of self-harm.

If your teen is expressing some of these common warning signs, this could indicate that it’s time to have a conversation. If everyone is on the same page that further help is needed, you can then reach out to a trained mental health professional. 

Can Teen Depression Be Treated?

If you fear that your teen is experiencing depression, this can be a terrifying moment for any parent. But luckily, depression is a very treatable mental health condition when you work with trained mental health professionals. Generally, experts will recommend one of three (or a combined approach) primary treatments for depression: therapy, medication, or residential treatment centers.

Several medications have been FDA-approved to safely and effectively treat depression in teens and adults. Two of the most common, Prozac and Lexapro, have shown significant success in many trials and for countless patients to help them manage their depressive symptoms and live better, happier lives. But it’s also important to note that there are many side effects associated with taking antidepressants. Speak with your doctor before beginning any regiment with prescription medication.

Additionally, experts may recommend therapy to help treat depression. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, is a common treatment that involves talking with a therapist or mental health professional. Via these therapy sessions, teens have the opportunity to talk about their symptoms and experiences. Together, the therapist and the patient can then work to develop healthy strategies to help them cope with depression. Talk therapy may be fashioned as a one-on-one session, group session, or even family therapy. 

Residential Treatment Centers for Teens

Additionally, the last treatment option we’ll discuss here is also the most comprehensive approach to recovery and treatment. If medication or therapy aren’t cutting it, you may be referred to a teen residential treatment center. This immersive approach to therapy provides around-the-clock care at inpatient facilities. Staffed by trained doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals, these treatment centers can help your teen understand their mental health condition and craft positive habits for managing their symptoms. Additionally, since many of these treatment centers are designed specifically for those in their teen years, this can provide an opportunity to meet those going through a similar situation. Not only can this help them heal and grow, but they can also form valuable, lasting relationships. 

Conclusion – What is Depression in Teens?

Depression is clearly one of the most common mental health disorders experienced by individuals of all ages. In fact, some research estimates that roughly 10 to 15 percent of all teenagers experience some form of depression at one point in their lives. While this may be temporary, it often last longer and becomes more serious if left untreated.

Mental health professionals have developed many evidence-based treatment methods for teens experiencing depression. The most common treatments include approaches like talk therapy, family therapy, and certain medications. 

Additionally, for many teenagers, entering into a depression treatment center can be a helpful and effective way to understand their mental health struggles. In these treatment centers, teens have the resources to develop healthy coping mechanism and habits so that they can live happy, healthy lives. Just because your teen is experiencing depression, it does not mean there’s anything wrong with them. Begin the conversation, tap into your compassion, and do what it takes to help them overcome the issue so that they can lead a healthy and productive life.