Teen depression is a serious mental health problem that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in activities. It affects how your teenager thinks, feels, and behaves, and it can cause emotional, functional, and physical problems. Although depression can occur at any time in life, symptoms may be different between teens and adults.


Teen depression signs and symptoms include a change from the teenager’s previous attitude and behavior that can cause significant distress and problems at school or home, in social activities, or in other areas of life.

When to See a Doctor

If depression signs and symptoms continue, begin to interfere in your teen’s life, or cause you to have concerns about suicide or your teen’s safety, talk to a doctor or a mental health professional trained to work with adolescents. Your teen’s family doctor or pediatrician is a good place to start. Or your teen’s school may recommend someone.


It’s not known exactly what causes depression, but a variety of issues may be involved. These include brain chemistry, hormones, inherited traits, early childhood trauma, and learned patterns of negative thinking.

Risk Factors

Many factors increase the risk of developing or triggering teen depression, including issues that negatively impact self-esteem, exposure to violence, other mental health conditions, learning disabilities, chronic physical illnesses, personality traits, substance abuse, and being part of an unsupportive environment.


Untreated depression can result in emotional, behavioral, and health problems that affect every area of your teenager’s life. Complications related to teen depression may include alcohol and drug misuse, academic problems, family conflicts, relationship difficulties, and suicide attempts or suicide.


There’s no sure way to prevent depression. However, these strategies may help. Encourage your teenager to take steps to control stress, increase resilience, boost self-esteem, reach out for friendship and social support, get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem, and maintain ongoing treatment if recommended.

From Project Semicolon to your inbox

Sign up for free and stay up to date on advancements, health tips, current health topics, and expertise on managing health.


Teen depression is a serious mental health problem that causes persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest
in activities. It affects how teenagers think, feel, and behave, leading to emotional, functional, and physical
problems. While depression can occur at any age, symptoms may differ between teens and adults.

Symptoms of Teen Depression

Teen depression signs and symptoms include changes in attitude and behavior, causing significant distress at
school, home, or in social activities. Emotional changes to watch for include feelings of sadness, anger, and
hopelessness, loss of interest in usual activities, low self-esteem, and frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

Behavioral changes may include tiredness, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, use of alcohol or drugs,
social isolation, poor school performance, and self-harming behaviors.


When teen depression is suspected, a doctor will conduct a physical exam and ask detailed questions about the
teenager’s health to identify potential underlying causes. Lab tests may be done to rule out physical health
problems. A psychological evaluation, including questionnaires, will help in diagnosing depression and checking
for related complications.

Types of Depression

Major depression symptoms can vary, and doctors may use specifiers to clarify the type of depression a teen has.
Examples of specifiers include anxious distress, melancholic features, and atypical features.

Treatment Options

Treatment for teen depression often involves a combination of talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication. In
severe cases, hospitalization or outpatient treatment programs may be necessary. Medications like fluoxetine
(Prozac) and escitalopram (Lexapro) are FDA-approved for teen depression, but careful monitoring for suicidal
thoughts is essential.

Psychotherapy helps teens identify and change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, while hospitalization provides
a safe environment for those at risk of self-harm.

Lifestyle and Coping Strategies

Encouraging healthy habits, sticking to treatment plans, and fostering open communication with the teen can be
helpful. Engaging in physical activities, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and keeping a journal are among the coping
strategies to consider.

When to Seek Help

If depression symptoms persist, interfere with daily life, or raise concerns about suicide or safety, seeking
professional help is crucial. Parents, caregivers, or friends should be vigilant about any signs of suicidal
thoughts and take immediate action to ensure the teen’s safety.

Find Treatment

Your impact doubles

This month, your gift has the power to change lives. By supporting Project Semicolon, you're making sure no one ever has to struggle alone. Your gift by August 1st. will be matched and have twice the impact on mental health, and suicide prevention.