Signs of Teen Depression That Parents Can Spot

Published On: September 21, 2022Categories: Mental Health, Therapy

If you’ve noticed signs of teen depression and are worried, you’re far from alone. According to the Pew Research Center, 13 percent of U.S. teens had experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2017, a stark increase from eight percent in 2007

Teen depression is a serious cause for concern, and no one feels it more than the parents and caregivers of these vulnerable youth. There’s much debate about the reason for this increase and how to address it but the important first step is to recognize teen depression symptoms and how to get your child the teen depression treatment he or she needs.

Clinical depression in teens

Although there are various depressive disorders, what most people think of when they hear about depression is called major depressive disorder (MDD) or clinical depression. Depression can affect people of any age or background and can have a known or unknown cause. 

Regardless of who experiences depression and its root, there are some universal signs of clinical depression. Depression is characterized by pervasive sadness and a loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable. Depression is a mental health disorder, not just a feeling that will go away. Without treatment, depression can be dangerous.

Teen depression symptoms

According to Mayo Clinic, you may observe the following signs of teen depression:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Frequent crying
  • Feeling upset with no apparent stimulus
  • Feeling sadness that is out of proportion to the stimulus
  • Hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Loss of pleasure in normal activities, like spending time with friends or playing sports
  • Feeling apathetic
  • Difficulty falling asleep or over sleeping
  • Fatigue, even when doing simple tasks
  • Failure to gain weight at an age appropriate rate
  • Overeating
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slowed movements
  • Overwhelming feelings of guilt
  • Inability to move past mistakes
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Somatic complaints (headaches, stomachaches)
  • Having thoughts about harming oneself or someone else
  • Making plans to harm oneself or someone else

If you have noticed one or several of the above teen depression symptoms, it’s time to consult a medical doctor or mental health professional. 

Teen depression treatment

When you reach out to receive care for teen depression symptoms, treatment will be personalized to match your child’s needs. While each individual will benefit from specialized care, there are a few things you can expect.

An assessment

An intake assessment, level of care assessment or mental health evaluation basically mean the same thing: your child’s presentation, symptoms, past medical and mental health history, functional performance and physical health will be considered to determine whether he or she meets the criteria for a major depressive disorder diagnosis. 

The assessment will also determine which level of care is most appropriate at the given time and how to best address the presenting concerns. For example, if one of the signs of teen depression you’ve noticed is low energy and a depressed mood, outpatient care and medication may be the next step. If your child has survived a suicide attempt, a medically managed intense inpatient program will be more effective.

Inpatient or outpatient treatment

Following the assessment, your care provider will direct you to the appropriate program. These programs are generally labeled inpatient or outpatient. Inpatient meaning that the program is residential, and these usually last a couple weeks. Outpatient programs occur for a few hours a day, sometimes up to 10 hours, but patients return home at night.

Most providers offer a continuum of care, meaning that each level of care has corresponding treatment at more or less intense levels, and individuals are able to move between programs as needs change and symptoms decrease or increase.


The first line of defense for most mental health concerns is psychotherapy, or talk therapy. When a teen struggles with depression, therapy can help an individual identify symptoms, find solutions to presenting stressors and process past experiences that contribute to depression.


Combined with the right treatment programming, medication can be an effective tool in teen depression treatment. Imbalances of chemicals and symptoms of depression can be alleviated with the right medications.

Lifestyle changes

Teen depression treatment will always include lifestyle changes that compliment the self-work being done in therapy. These are practices that can be implemented into daily life, including coping skills, self-care, healthy habits (like eating and sleep) and sometimes more drastic changes, like a change in school placement.

Don’t wait to reach out

If your teen has been struggling with feeling down, there’s no harm in reaching out. In fact, waiting could cause more damage than good. If you’ve noticed signs of teen depression the best time to intervene and call for a professional assessment is now. 

Tapestry can provide healing for your teen and your entire family. With evidence-based care and compassionate staff, you’ll know your loved one is in good hands. Help your child get back to living a meaningful and joyful life. Call Tapestry today.

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