What Does Teen Depression Feel Like?

Being a teenager is challenging enough. In these formative years, you have to negotiate new challenges, social dynamics, and the pressures of school, work, and family. But for many teens, these years can be even more challenging. For teens struggling with depression, even simply getting out of bed can be overwhelming.

As a parent, it’s important to understand teen depression and recognize the common symptoms that serve as warning signs that your teen may need help. While there is no handbook on how to deal with teen depression, doctors and mental health professionals can help you, and your teen identify the mental health condition and develop beneficial habits and coping mechanisms to gain back control of their lives.

Here, we’re taking a closer look at teen depression to understand the common symptoms and what it really feels like for a teen living with depression. We then review some of the most effective treatment options for teen depression.


Depression is a real mental health condition that affects millions of individuals all over the world. No matter your age, depression can make your daily life a challenge and prevent you from living a fulfilling, rewarding life. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), depression, clinically known as major depressive disorder, is a “common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and even how you act.” While often characterized by sadness and isolation, teen depression in particular can also be expressed through anger, irritability, and erratic behavior. If left untreated, teen depression can lead to serious health complications.


While teen depression may have the same roots as depression in adults, this mental health disorder has a unique effect on those in their teen years. One example: adult’s depression is often characterized by sadness or lack of interest in activities and people, while teens with depression may act more irritable, angry, and act out against their parents or peers. Additionally, while adults with depression tend to isolate themselves, teens with depression may still spend time with their friends and engage in social activities.

While there are many similarities, there are a few key differences between adult depression and teen depression. While adults will tend to withdraw from those around them, depressed teens may still engage socially and act as if nothing is wrong. Adults with depression often express this condition through sadness and disinterest, while it’s common for teens with depression to act more irritable and outwardly angry. Teens may also struggle more with understanding and coping with their condition.

Read: Parents Guide to Dealing with ADHD in Children


Each case of depression is unique to the individual. Depending on the severity of the mental health condition, their environment, and their levels of support, teens may express various symptoms of teen depression. While most teens won’t exhibit all these symptoms, most tend to show at least a few of the most common symptoms.

To help parents understand what to be on the lookout for, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common symptoms of teen depression.

  • Long periods of sadness or hopelessness.
  • Irritability or anger.
  • Lack of interest in things they used to enjoy.
  • Isolation.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Drug or alcohol usage.
  • Trouble concentrating in school.
  • Difficulty making friends or maintaining relationships.
  • Changes to their regular eating habits.
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm.


As a parent, you already know how difficult it can be to tap into the mind of your teenage child. At times, simply having an honest conversation can seem impossible. But to effectively help them as they deal with this common mental health disorder, it’s helpful to understand what they’re going through and what teen depression really feels like.

Especially for teens, depression can be accompanied with confusion, guilt, and even anger. Why am I feeling this way? Without the experience or resources to assess their own condition, teens may become irritable or quickly lose hope that they can ever feel good again. Of course, this isn’t true, and it’s important for you to be there to remind them.

Depression may also lead to low self-esteem and feelings of guilt. These are times when your teen needs positive support more than ever. Depression can make someone intensely sensitive to critique and negative feedback and cause them to isolate themselves out of fear of rejection.

Read: Suicidal Depression


Seeing that your teen is suffering from depression can be a frightening realization. But there is hope. Teen depression is a very treatable mental health condition. With the proper treatment plan and support from their loved ones, most teens can be treated for depression and go on to live healthy and happy lives.

But how exactly is teen depression treated? Primarily, specialists use three different types of treatment: therapy, medication, or residential treatment centers. Some treatment plans may also incorporate a combination of these treatment approaches. For example, a plan combining talk therapy and medication is a common way to treat teen depression. What’s most important is that you work closely with a trained medical professional who can diagnose your teen and then develop a treatment plan that works for them.

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As a parent, it’s a frightening moment when you realize that your teen may be suffering from depression. You only want what’s best for them, and you do everything you can to protect both their physical and mental health. But without medical experience or mental health training, you may feel underequipped to face this challenge. But don’t worry—in the fight against teen depression, you aren’t alone.

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders experienced by teens. Some statistics estimate that roughly 10 to 15 percent of all teenagers experience some type of depression. Teen depression is a common mental health disorder that can lead to additional health complications, but luckily, it’s also very treatable.

Doctors and mental health professionals have developed various treatment methods for teens with depression, including talk therapy, family therapy, and certain types of medication. For some teens, entering into a residential teen treatment center can be an extremely effective way to understand their condition and then develop healthy coping mechanisms and habits to live happy, healthy lives. Just because your teen is experiencing depression, this doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them. Begin the conversation and do what it takes to help them overcome this challenge.

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