Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions affecting young adults, but the signs and symptoms aren’t always obvious in teens. Sometimes, teen depression is attributed to typical adolescent moodiness, school stress, or withdrawing from parents. While all of these experiences are normal for the average teenager, it’s also important to be watchful for the signs of depression.
Teen depression is often treatable with therapy or other professional interventions, but recognizing the need for support is the first step. If your teen is showing any signs of depression, it may be time to explore the idea of therapy with them.
Here Are 10 of the Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Teen Depression
1. Changes in Mood
Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, or emptiness are all hallmarks of depression in people of any age. Although teenagers can be moody as a result of the hormonal changes and stress of adolescence, teen depression causes a serious and lasting change in mood. Your teen might appear more tired or lethargic than usual, or they may sad and withdrawn. Many teens who are struggling with depression feel irritable and may lash out in anger toward their family.
2. Loss of Interest in Hobbies
Your sense of self can change dramatically as a teenager, so you may not keep the same hobbies throughout your entire adolescence. However, losing interest in any and all activities is one of the most common signs of teen depression. A teenager with depression may quit the school club they used to look forward to, stop engaging in the hobbies they used to enjoy in their free time, and start spending most of their time alone.
3. Negative Sense of Self
Self-esteem issues are extremely common among teenagers with depression and are a major reason for seeking therapy. The condition makes you feel like something is inherently wrong with you or like you don’t offer any value to the world. Your teen may struggle to accept compliments, or they may criticize themselves for the slightest mistakes. Sometimes, teenagers mask their low self-esteem with humor. Frequent self-deprecating jokes may be a sign that something is wrong, especially if this is a new behavior.
4. Spending Less Time With Friends
Adolescents often start relying on their friends more than their family for emotional support and a sense of belonging. However, depression can convince you that nobody cares about you. If your teenager has isolated themselves from a group of friends they were once close with, they might be struggling with depression or other mental health concerns.
5. Changes in Sleeping or Eating Habits
A change in sleeping or eating habits is often a symptom of teen depression. Some teens struggle to sleep because the negative thoughts keep them awake. Others start sleeping far more than usual because they feel so fatigued or because they’re trying to escape from life. Similarly, depression can either cause a loss of appetite or an increase in eating. Your teenager might lose all interest in food and feel no motivation to eat, or they may turn to food as an escape from their pain.
6. Decline in Self-care
A sudden decline in self-care is among the most common signs of teen depression. Some teens put more effort into grooming and hygiene than others, but a change in self-care habits can indicate that something’s wrong. When you’re dealing with severe teen depression, a task as simple as brushing your teeth can feel impossible. You might feel like self-care is pointless or a waste of your limited energy, so you let the daily hygiene habits slip.
7. Issues With Attention Span or Memory
Teen depression can cause cognitive issues, such as memory loss, shortened attention span, and difficulty completing tasks. These issues can be a sign of a wide variety of mental health disorders, but they often occur as a result of teen depression because the condition causes extreme fatigue and lethargy. You might notice that your teenager’s grades are dropping or that they’ve having difficulty following a conversation or retaining information.
8. Overusing Technology
Technology can be a means of escape for teens struggling with depression. Most teenagers heavily use smartphones and social media, but if you’ve noticed that your teen is spending almost all of their free time scrolling on their phone, they may be trying to distract themselves from their problems. Excessive phone use can also occur when your teenager feels too low or exhausted to participate in hobbies or see their friends in their free time.
9. Drug or Alcohol Abuse
Unfortunately, teens often turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with depression and other mental health issues. For some, depression causes intense feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and substances can provide a relief from these heavy emotions. For others, depression mostly manifests as numbness or emptiness, and drugs and alcohol make them feel alive again. Substance use is a problem in and of itself in teens, but it almost always occurs as a result of an underlying mental health issue.
Self-harm is a serious and dangerous problem for teens with depression. Teenagers sometimes turn to self-abuse as a coping mechanism for their psychological distress. The physical pain can provide a distraction from the emotional pain, or it may offer a temporary sense of relief. Unexplained injuries, frequent isolation, and hiding skin with long sleeves or bracelets are all signs that a teenager may be self-harming.
Therapy for Teens in Los Angeles, Ca
Depression is a common but serious illness in people of all ages, and it’s often overlooked in teenagers. If you notice the signs of teen depression in your child, check in with them about their mental health. They may not open up to you, but you can always let them know that you love them and are here to help. Additionally, you can discuss the possibility of therapy with them as teenagers sometimes find it easier to open up to a professional in a confidential environment.
The Beverly Hills Therapy Group provides therapy for teens with depression and other mental health conditions. We understand how vulnerable the experience of therapy can be for young adults, and our goal is to create an environment where all of our clients feel safe and supported when expressing themselves. If you’re interested in speaking with a teen therapist in Los Angeles, please reach out to The Beverly Hills Therapy Group today.