Symptoms of Depression in Teenagers: Know What Warning Signs to Look For

Symptoms of Depression in Teenagers: Know What Warning Signs to Look For
Page content

Teen Depression

Depression and sorrow (teenage girl sitting against brick wall in depressed state)

The teenage years can be tough for many and it is not unusual for teens to experience bad days. However, when those bad days stretch on for two or more weeks or if symptoms are severe, the adolescent may be suffering from depression. Depression is a serious condition and if left untreated, it can lead to serious problems. Below you will learn about the symptoms of depression in teenagers. Knowing these warning signs can help you to decide if it is time for your son or daughter to be seen by a professional health care provider.


The following are possible symptoms teenagers may experience when depressed:

  • Sadness (sad, downcast face)
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Hopelessness (feeling that everything is wrong and nothing will turn out well)
  • Apathy (absence of emotion)
  • Fatigue (loss of strength and energy)
  • Restlessness and agitation (unable to rest, relax or be still)
  • Irritability
  • Hostility (very unfriendly)
  • Anger or rage
  • Overreaction to criticism
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of self-hatred
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Episodes of memory loss
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Lack of motivation
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain (from loss of appetite or overeating)
  • Changes in sleeping habits (excessive sleeping, trouble sleeping, or daytime sleeping)
  • Complaints of pains (such as stomach ache, headache, and low back pain)

Behavioral Changes

Depression can often lead to behavioral problems. Sometimes in depressed teenagers, there may only be behavioral changes and none of the above symptoms.

The following are possible behavioral changes:

  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Acting-out
  • Highly irresponsible
  • Impaired schoolwork
  • Internet addiction
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Eating disorders (including binge eating, anorexia and bulimia)
  • Running away (or talk about running away)
  • Reckless behavior
  • Self-injury
  • Criminal behavior (like stealing)
  • Violence
  • Thinking or talking about suicide or death

Teen Depression Compared to Adult Depression

Behavioral changes and symptoms of depression in teenagers can be very different from those of adults. The following are more common in teens than in adults:

• Withdrawal from some and not all people. Teenagers will normally keep some friends unlike adults who usually isolate themselves. However, they may socialize less frequently or they may hang with a different crowd.

• Irritability and anger. These feelings, rather than sadness, are often the predominant mood in adolescents with depression.

• Aches and pains. Frequent and unexplained aches and pains are a common complaint among depressed teens.

• Extreme sensitivity to criticism. Feelings of worthlessness in depressed teens make them vulnerable to criticism, particularly in teens that are “over-achievers”.

Final Note

About half of teens who suffer from serious depression are likely to have problems with depression as adults. Catching warning signs early and receiving proper treatment may help prevent future episodes in your son’s or daughter’s life.


Helpguide: Teen Depression -

Web MD: Teen depression -

Medline Plus: Adolescent depression -

Photo Credit

Image courtesy of