What is depression?

Teenage depression isn’t just bad moods and the occasional feeling down or blue—it’s a serious problem that impacts every aspect of a teen’s life.

Behavioral Symptoms of Depression

Depression is a strong mood that involves other emotions like sadness, discouragement, despair, and hopelessness. While not everyone experiences depression in the same way, there are common symptoms that you may experience. To be considered as depression, these symptoms must last for at least two weeks and be present most of the day every day.
  • Feeling sad, teary, or grouchy—generally depressed

  • Losing interest in things you used to like

  • Trouble sleeping: sleeping too much or too little

  • Changes in appetite or weight: significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain

  • Feeling tired or restless all the time

  • Feeling guilty or worthless, like you’re a “bad person”

  • Difficulty concentrating in school

  • Preoccupation with death or dying

  • Finding it hard to participate in everyday activities

Physical Symptoms of Depression

Depression often affects you more than just emotionally—your body may feel it too. These physical symptoms may be a result of depression if present on a regular basis for at least two weeks.

  • Body pains and muscle tension

  • Upset stomach and/or digestive problems

  • Dizziness

  • Frequent crying

  • Oversensitivity

  • Angry outbursts

When these symptoms are present frequently for two or more weeks, they may be signs of depression. If you or someone you know may be depressed, you’re not alone. We’re here to help 24/7/365 at 602-248-8336.

Differences between teenage and adult depression

Depression in teens can look very different from adults. The following symptoms of depression are more common in teenagers:

  • Irritable or angry mood – Irritability, rather than sadness, is often the predominant mood in depressed teens. A depressed teenager may be grumpy, hostile, easily frustrated, or prone to angry outbursts.
  • Unexplained aches and pains – Depressed teens frequently complain about physical ailments such as headaches or stomach aches. If a thorough physical exam does not reveal a medical cause, these aches and pains may indicate depression.
  • Extreme sensitivity to criticism – Depressed teens are overcome by feelings of worthlessness, making them extremely vulnerable to criticism, rejection, and failure. This is a particular problem for “over-achievers.”
  • Withdrawing from some, but not all people –Depressed teenagers usually keep up at least some friendships, while adults may completely isolate themselves. However, teens with depression may socialize less than before, pull away from their parents, or start hanging out with a different crowd.

What should you do if you feel depressed?

It can feel difficult and sometimes impossible to take that first step to help yourself. With the right skills, support, and services, you can get better!

Tips on managing depression

Here are some helpful tips on ways to manage depression:

  • Knowledge: Knowing the warning signs and symptoms can help you identify if you are feeling depressed.
  • Don’t wait: The quicker you begin seeking help for your depression, the faster and more effectively you can work through it.
  • Stay active! Exercise can increase endorphins in the body, which assist in increasing your mood.
  • Connect: Surround yourself with trusted, positive people who you feel safe and comfortable in confiding.
  • Journal: Keep track of your moods through a journal. Track how you are feeling throughout the day to look at your improvements or growth areas. Learn more about journaling and the importance of documenting your mood!
  • Sleep well: Sleeping is essential for a healthy and balanced lifestyle! Here are a few helpful tips on improving your quality of sleep.
  • Eat healthy: Lots of sugar, fast food, and processed food can make you feel sluggish and tired. Utilize more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods in your diet. Make sure to drink plenty of water. Find more tips on health and nutrition here!
  • Understand negative thinking patterns: Gain knowledge on negative thoughts and challenge yourself to have a more positive outlook! Learn more about identifying negative thoughts and how to overcome them.
  • Relax! Try learning some “mindfulness” techniques. Here are a few relaxation techniques you can try. Even 30 seconds a day can make a difference in how you feel.

Most importantly give yourself some slack! Expect gradual changes in your mood, but depression cannot be “fixed” immediately. It’s a process, but you’re making positive steps in the right direction!

If you’re feeling depressed, or you’re just feeling down and having trouble finding someone to talk to, Teen Lifeline is always here for you to listen and help. Call or text 602-248-8336 (TEEN).

You are not alone.