Parent Information


    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 other areas of life.

    Depression symptoms can vary in severity, but changes in your teen's emotions and behavior may indicate a larger problem.

    Strong, positive relationships with others can be protective and prevent against suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Connectedness between individuals can lead to increased frequency of social contact, lowered levels of social isolation or loneliness, and an increased number of positive relationships.

    Positive attachments between youth, their families and organizations in their community are important and can increase youth’s feelings of belonging, strengthen their sense of identity and personal worth, and provide access to larger sources of support. Community organizations may include schools, and other youth-serving, Tribal, and faith-based organizations.

    Emotional changes

    Be alert for emotional changes, such as:

    vFeelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason
    vFeeling hopeless or empty
    vIrritable or annoyed mood
    vFrustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters
    vLoss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
    vLoss of interest in, or conflict with, family and friends
    vLow self-esteem
    vFeelings of worthlessness or guilt
    vFixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism
    vExtreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance
    vTrouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
    vOngoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak
    vFrequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide   Source:: Mayo Clinic

    Behavioral changes

    vTiredness and loss of energy
    vInsomnia or sleeping too much
    vChanges in appetite — decreased appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weight gain
    vUse of alcohol or drugs
    vAgitation or restlessness — for example, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
    vSlowed thinking, speaking or body movements
    vFrequent complaints of unexplained body aches and headaches, which may include frequent visits to the school nurse
    vSocial isolation
    vPoor school performance or frequent absences from school
    vNeglected appearance
    vAngry outbursts, disruptive or risky behavior, or other acting-out behaviors
    vSelf-harm — for example, cutting, burning, or excessive piercing or tattooing
    vMaking a suicide plan or a suicide attempt
    vIt can be difficult to tell the difference between ups and downs that are just part of being a teenager and teen depression. Talk with your teen. Try to determine whether he or she seems capable of managing challenging feelings, or if life seems overwhelming.

    Source Mayo Clinic

    What Parents Need to Know:

    1. Know your facts    2. Recognize the warning signs  3. Know the risk factors

    4. Know the protective factors

    Ø  Problem solving skills
    Ø  Conflict resolution
    Ø  Ability to handling problems in a nonviolent way
    Ø  Strong connections to family, friends, and community support
    Ø  Restricted from lethal means of suicide
    Ø  Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support self-preservation
    Ø  Access to services
    Ø  Support through ongoing medical and mental health care relationships

    5. Take preventive measures

    Ø  Interact with your teen positively
    Ø  Increase his/her involvement in positive activities (promote involvement in clubs/sports)
    Ø  Appropriately monitor your teen’s whereabouts and communications (texting, Facebook, Twitter).
    Ø    Be aware of your teen’s social environment (friends, teammates, coaches)
    Ø  Communicate regularly with your teen’s teachers to ensure safety at school
    Ø  Limit your teen’s access to alcohol, prescription pills, illegal drugs, knives and guns
    Ø  Talk with your teen about your concerns; ask him/her directly about suicidal thoughts
    Ø  Explain the value of therapy and medication to manage symptoms.  
    Ø    Address your concerns with other adults in your child’s life (teachers, coaches, family)
    Ø  Discuss your concerns with his/her pediatrician to seek mental health referrals

    6. Talk to your teen about suicide

    7. Last but not least, seek support from mental health services if necessary

    Treating Adolescent Depression

    It is extremely important that depressed teens receive prompt, professional treatment.

    Depression is serious and, if left untreated, can worsen to the point of becoming life-threatening. If depressed teens refuse treatment, it may be necessary for family members or other concerned adults to seek professional advice.

    Please see additional information about suicide prevention 

    Therapy can help teens understand why they are depressed and learn how to cope with stressful situations. Depending on the situation, treatment may consist of individual, group or family counseling. Medications that can be prescribed by a psychiatrist may be necessary to help teens feel better.

    Some of the most common and effective ways to treat depression in adolescents are:

    • Psychotherapy provides teens an opportunity to explore events and feelings that are painful or troubling to them. Psychotherapy also teaches them coping skills.
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps teens change negative patterns of thinking and behaving.
    • Interpersonal therapy focuses on how to develop healthier relationships at home and at school.
    • Medication relieves some symptoms of depression and is often prescribed along with therapy.

    When depressed adolescents recognize the need for help, they have taken a major step toward recovery. However, remember that few adolescents seek help on their own. They may need encouragement from their friends and support from concerned adults to seek help and follow treatment recommendations.


     Mayo Clinic: