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HomeFeaturesHealth & WellnessRecognizing and managing teen depression 

Recognizing and managing teen depression 

By: Whitney Morrow
Carter County Extension Agent

Source: Kerri Ashurst, senior extension specialist 

For young people, the start of a new school year can mean new struggles and challenges. Teenagers may struggle due to their changing bodies and hormones. Parents frequently wonder whether their child’s behavior changes are typical or if there may be more to them than meets the eye. Become familiar with the warning signs and symptoms of depression to support our kids in leading happier, healthier lives.  

Everyone experiences times when they may feel down or a little depressed. This is common and may even be beneficial so one learns to deal with the ebbs and flows of life. A depressive disorder, on the other hand, is marked sadness or a change in mood that adversely affects a person’s functioning capacity. If untreated, symptoms may last for a few weeks to many years.  

According to the National Institute of Health, before they turn 18, approximately 20% of teenagers experience depression. Numerous physical, psychological and environmental factors, such as low serotonin levels, low self-esteem, poor body image, relationship changes or loss, trauma, peer pressure, bullying and abuse, can contribute to teen depression.  

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, general symptoms of a major depressive episode include having a depressed or irritable mood for longer than two weeks plus at least five signs of depression. These signs include:

  • sad feelings 
  • frequent crying 
  • loss of interest or pleasure in activities that once made a person happy 
  • significant weight loss or weight gain 
  • an increase or decrease in appetite 
  • anger 
  • agitation 
  • fatigue 
  • trouble concentrating 
  • withdrawal from family and friends 
  • change in sleep pattern 
  • thoughts of death  
  • thoughts, or plans or attempts at suicide.  
  • Teens who are depressed may also struggle academically, express boredom, self-harm, engage in risky behavior, and frequently complain of physical symptoms like headaches and stomachaches.  

If you feel like your teenager is experiencing depression, start with a primary care physician for a referral or contact a trained healthcare professional, who can diagnose your child and offer appropriate medical advice. 

More information on raising healthy families is available from the Carter County Cooperative Extension Service. 

The Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is an Equal Opportunity Organization with respect to education and employment and authorization to provide research, education information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, physical or mental disability or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity. 




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