What does teenage depression look like?
Major depression is diagnosed when an individual experiences either depressed mood or loss of interest plus four more of the nine symptoms of depression for all or most of a two week period. The symptoms are the same for adults and teenagers, but the life of a teenager is much different in many respects from the life of adults, in terms of social relationships, obligations, expectations, activities, schedules, physiology, and of course life experience. As a result, the symptoms of teenage depression will often be expressed differently than those of adults.
For instance, while adults present with depressed mood, teens often show signs of irritability and anger. As a result, teens are at a much greater risk of acting out, whether directed at themselves or at others. Where adults tend to isolate from all social groups, teens may isolate from one social group in favor of another.
Teens will also be at a much greater risk of a number of behaviors such as self-mutilation (cutting, burning etc), eating disorders, reckless behavior, violent outbursts and substance use or abuse, as well as teen-specific behaviors and problems like running away from home and disciplinary problems at school. Teens are also more likely to interpret their situation as hopeless and may be at increased danger of suicide.