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What are the Signs of Major Depression in Adolescents?

written by: HeatherW • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 12/30/2010

Identifying the signs of major depression in adolescents can sometimes be difficult. Here we discuss the signs and symptoms of major depressive disorder in teens and how to recognize them.

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    Introduction to Depression in Teens

    teen depression 

    Learning to understand the signs of major depression in adolescents is of the utmost importance as the symptoms are different from those in adults. In fact, the signs can often be misconstrued as normal teenage behavior typical of the age.

    As adolescents begin to explore the world and gain a sense of "self", they challenge their parents and other authority figures, often acting out in the process. Coupled with the pressures of balancing home life, making good grades and peer pressure, sadness can often invade even the healthiest teen's life.

    All of this is normal. However, teenagers can descend into depression just as easily as adults, and sadly, the signs are often misconstrued as normal, rebellious teenage behavior. The signs of major depression in adolescents can often lead to drug abuse and acting out, which are typically associated with the teenage years.

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    Signs of Major Depression in Adolescents

    While some rebellion during the teenage years is normal, this behavior can be magnified when major depression becomes an issue. Unexplained irritability, hostility, and anger are the most predominant signs of major depressive disorder in teenagers today. This is why it often goes unnoticed by teachers or even parents, as this is often considered "normal" adolescent behavior. However, there are other warning signs to look out for that go along with these that can alert a parent that something is wrong.

    Signs of Major Depression in Adolescents:

    • Reoccurring complaints of headaches, muscle aches, tiredness, or stomach aches
    • Frequent absence from school or poor performance in school
    • Talking about or trying to run away from home
    • Not wanting to socialize with friends
    • Feeling inadequate
    • Alcohol or drug abuse
    • Reckless behavior
    • Difficulty with relationships
    • Insomnia
    • Changes in appetite or weight
    • Hypersensitivity to failure or rejection
    • Anxiety
    • Excessive guilt
    • Low self esteem
    • Loss of pleasure in usual activities
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Frequent crying
    • Fatigue or lack of energy
    • Thoughts of suicide or death

    While some of the signs require the teenager to communicate openly, most symptoms are easily recognizable to a parent that the teen is troubled. If you are a parent who is unsure if your teen is depressed, or just going through a normal life stage, take time to consider how long they have been experiencing their particular troubles.

    Also think about how differently they are acting from their normal self and how serious the issues appear to be. Ultimately, you know your teen better than anyone else, and it is always preferable to err on the side of caution and consult with a professional so your teen can be given the appropriate help and treatment.

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    References

    1. Major Depression in Teens - http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/info/mental/diagnose/major.
    2. Depression in Children - htmhttp://www.athealth.com/Consumer/disorders/ChildDepression.html
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    Photo Credit

    1. Teen Depression - jet_ sappymon