It’s normal for teenagers to be moody from time to time. But if a low mood is persistent, it may be a sign of depression. Depression in teenagers is relatively common, with 1 in 16 young people aged 16-24 experiencing depression at any one time. Learn the facts about depression, the signs of depression in teens to look out for, and what parents can do to help.
What is depression?
While some degree of moodiness, anger and acting out is normal during the teenage years, depression is more serious. Depression is a mental health disorder that shows up as overwhelming sadness, anger or despair. To be classified as depression these feelings have to be prolonged over about two weeks or more, not just sad or moody for a couple of days. You know it is severe because it gets in the way of the person’s normal activity. The good news is that depression is highly treatable. Despite this, only 1 in 5 young people with depression gets help, usually relying on an adult close to them to spot the signs and support them.
Signs of depression in teenagers:
While many of the signs of depression in teens are similar, there are some specific things to look out for in teens that differ from depression in adults. For example:
Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish the signs of depression in teens from the changes that are involved in growing up. An obvious change in behaviour and that lasts longer than two weeks may be cause for concern.
What causes depression in young people?
There are many factors that can influence depression in young people. Current research suggests these may include:
Depression may respond better to treatment early on, so it’s important to keep an eye out for the signs of depression in case your child needs help. Talk to them and ask them if they are ok. Don’t force the conversation but at least if you bring it up, they’ll know you are there for them and can support them when and if they need it. If depression is impacting on your child’s everyday life and you need further support, don’t hesitate to talk to your family doctor or visit your local headspace centre to get some professional help. There are also web chat and phone counselling services that can help such as Lifeline and Kids Helpline.