How-to find out if your teenager is battling depression?

Teenager is battling depression: Before we jump into this topic. I would wish to say that it is good that you are reading more about this topic and I genuinely hope this is of help in your search.

I must appreciate that the very fact that you are reading this blog. Only tells me that you have taken the first step to help your child in combatting the issue.

As parents you need to understand that teen battling depression is not something that you are facing alone.

A simple proof is that fact that I and so does many bloggers around the world are writing on this topic. This only proves that this is a problem that is faced by many many parents out there.

There is nothing to feel guilty or a failure as a parent because you are facing an issue like this.

If your teenager is battling depression. It is a serious issue and you would require help. But always remember there are parents who have faced this and have overcome and grown to be successful adults.

Take heart, cheer, and read on.

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Teenagers can be extremely difficult, and depression affects teenagers much more often than many of us think.

Teenage depression goes beyond mood swings this is a serious health problem that affects every aspect of a teenager’s life.

Depression is common and affects 1-2% of children and 5-8% of teens. Depression seems to increase, especially in girls in their teens.

As with adults, girls are twice as affected as boys.

Up to 20% have had a depression episode during their teenage years.

About half of these adolescent’s experience recurrent depression, and most depressions make their debut during adolescence.

Hence it is important for us to know more and understand if our teenager is battling depression.

Some of the effects of Depression in Teens:

Depression usually occurs in adolescence. For children, it may be that they feel more anxious and afraid of things, and in their teenage years it can lead to depression.

Note: A teenager does not need to be depressed to express anger, but the behavioral pattern changes suddenly and lasts longer than two weeks, there may be reason to suspect depression.

In layman’s terms the way I understand depression is. It is a mood disorder. Where the person has more low moods than high moods.

Effects of depression

  • Teenage depressions can seriously affect relationships and school functioning even in adulthood.
  • It can bring with it a more serious prognosis than when the condition debuts in adulthood.
  • Depression is also the condition most closely associated with suicide in young people.
  • Suicide is one of the most common causes of death in teenagers and half of those who die in suicide are thought to suffer from depression.
  • Teams also manifest depression by way of self-harm. By way of cutting themselves up, burning or excessive piercing.

As parent it is difficult for us to tell between normal teen mood swings and teen depression.

To know more about teenage mood swings read our article How-To Help & Deal with a teenager mood swings.

But if we find out that our teenagers are having trouble managing their feelings. And life in general feels overwhelming for them.

Then it is about time that we step in as parents to help them through the phase.

Note: Do remember that depression leads to suicidal tendency. As parent it is wise that we are aware of the signs of suicidal tendency to watch out for in our teens. Please read our much-appreciated article How-to find out suicidal tendency in your teen?.

Signs & symptoms that tells if teenager is battling depression:

Unlike adults, who can ask for help on their own, teens rely on parents, teachers, or other caregivers to acknowledge their suffering and get the help they need.

But it is not always easy.

On the one hand, adolescents with depression are not necessarily sad.

Instead, irritability, anger and restlessness may be the most important symptoms to watch out for to tell if your teenager is battling depression.

Depression should not be confused with anxiety. They are not one and the same. However they can coexist.

Some of our articles that can be of help are How-To SPOT & DEAL with Teenage Anxiety Issues. How-To HELP & EASE stress in your teenager, How-To Help & Deal with a teenager mood swings

Signs and symptoms of adolescent depression:

  • Sadness or despair
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Frequent tearing up or tears
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Poor academic performance
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Progression of depression

The risk of relapse and recurrent depression in adolescence can indeed reach 70% after 5 years (for a characterized depression).

On the other hand, a reactive depressive disorder is hardly ever followed by a major depress

Causes of depression in teenagers

A Teenager is battling depression for many reasons. It can develop due to many reasons

  • It can be seen in a conflict family environment.
  • The pressure put on the child by parents without realizing it can cause depression.
  • Behavioral incompatibility may be the cause of childhood depression.
  • Loss of parents or divorce of parents can cause depression in children.
  • Domestic violence
  • Joining the new baby in the family
  • Environmental changes due to home and school change
  • Conflict or stress with friends or classmates

Peer pressure, toxic friendship, wrong relationships can cause depression in teens. To know more about these topics read our articles… 5 Effective ways to deal with Peer Pressure, How-To get rid of your teens Toxic Friendship and How-to Talk to your Teen about Dating and Relationship

How to find out your child is depressed:

If you notice that your child or your teen has been depressed for several weeks.

Is indifferent to something he or she usually thinks is fun.

Does not sleep or eat as usual.

Are few of the common sign of depression?

While bad mood or acting out can be expected during adolescence, depression is something different.

Depression can destroy the essence of your teenager’s personality, causing an overwhelming feeling of sadness, hopelessness, or anger.

Many rebellious and unhealthy behaviors or attitudes in adolescents can be signs of depression.

Teenagers are prone to mood swings and anger issues that can also result in back-talking. Do read our article How to effectively deal with Teenager Anger. , How-To Handle Teen Backtalk and Disrespect

In addition, they usually have at least three of these symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping, sleeps too little or very much.
  • They have changed appetite; eat too little or too much.
  • They have physical problems, such as stomach pain or headaches.
  • Tired and energy less in a way that cannot be rested.
  • Trouble concentrating and thinking.
  • Thinks about death and not wanting to live.
  • Impaired self-esteem
  • Teens can use alcohol or drugs to “self-medicate” their depression. Unfortunately, substance abuse only makes things worse.
  • Depressed teenagers can engage in dangerous or high-risk behaviors, such as reckless driving, binge eating and unsafe sex.
  • In schools’ teens unable to concentrate, think and be engaged. Then it becomes difficult to keep up with the lessons and do homework.
  • Dropping grades, avoiding school activities, frequent medical symptoms like abdominal and head ache that the teacher can observe.
  • They often talks about the possibility of committing suicide or jokes about it
  • It expresses the belief that there is nothing more to do, there are no ways out, nor hope
  • He idealizes death and considers it a way to be remembered / considered
  • He has risky behaviors that endanger him.
  • Some depressed teens, usually boys who are bullied, can become aggressive and violent.

When a Teenager is battling depression. One of the coping mechanisms of depression is resorting to drug or alcohol abuse or take unwanted risks to escape the pains of reality.

Ways you can help your depressed child:

Help your child understand the stress they face.

And then help your child to solve the problems they are facing. And to help to manage that stress.

For this usually involves a combination of stress reduction and / or teaching the child ways to deal with these stresses.

One of the best life skills I feel a parent should teach their teenager is to face challenges with the right attitude. To get more insights read our article How to Prepare your Teenager Face Challenges in Life.

Make sure your child is in good physical health by getting good nutrition, sleeping, and exercising.

You can also help them by developing their self esteem, self confidence and giving them hope to look forward to life ahead.

We have written in detail about these in the below mentioned articles..

  1. How to develop self-confidence in your teenager
  2. How-To help build self-esteem in your teenager
  3. How-To Build HOPE in your Teenager

Things to avoid:

Avoid blaming or blaming your child for their depression. It just does not help and adds to the stress, which makes your child even more overwhelmed.

Worse, it makes your child less willing to talk to you. Give your child a sense of control by giving them as many choices as possible.

Read our articles How-To develop Positive Thinking in your teenager and How to influence your teenager’s mental well-being. It will be of help to you.

Healthy living makes the difference:

Caring for the basics can go a long way to helping your child or teenager feel better. A healthy body supports a healthy mind. Help your child:

  • Get enough sleep. Poor sleep can cause mood and energy levels to drop. See our fact sheet on sleeping problems if your child or teen has trouble sleeping.
  • Eat healthy meals and snacks with lots of fruits and vegetables. Some studies suggest that a lack of omega-3 fatty acids can worsen depression (see our fact sheet on omega-3 fatty acids).
  • Be physically active. Children and youth need about an hour a day of physical activity, and it is best to exercise outside in the sun. Research tells us that aerobic exercise (exercise that speeds up the heart rate and breathing) can have an antidepressant effect.
  • Get enough sun exposure. Lack of sun (or vitamin D) can trigger depression in some people who are susceptible to “seasonal depression”. There are numerous benefits of us getting exposed to sunlight. And it can also help in elevating mood. Do read about our very interesting article 20 Astonishing benefits of sunlight for kids

Take school help:

If school stress contributes to your child’s depression, or if depression affects your child at school, then it will be important to speak with the school.

Make an appointment with your child’s teacher, guidance counselor or director to talk about your child’s depression.

It is important to work with the school to minimize unnecessary stressors.

Leading a day to day life with a depressed teen

As a parent, it is natural to feel anxious if your child is showing symptoms of depression. So, In the conversation with the child, it is important to put the child’s feelings before anything and look past their own.

If you suspect that your teenager is battling depression – then it must be accepted.

Children feel anxious and disappointed with the parent and often do not want to talk at all as a reaction.

Focus on making it easy for the child to tell and open to you.

You may need to stay home or be more available

For a period, you may need to be at home with the child, even if the teenager who is feeling low and not opening to you.

Your presence and availability. Constant assurance and love will ultimately be received by your child. And your child will slowly open to you.

You will be able to build a emotional connection with them which is very important at this stage. And, our article How-To Easily build Emotional Connection with your Teenager and How to build positive family relationship with your teen will be able to help you with this.

In the event of a severe depression, a child or a teen should never be alone at home.

Try and avoid friction at home

The best way to avoid friction at home between family members is to stick to a certain timetable. And respect each other’s schedules and rhythm.

Personally, this has worked wonders for me. Not just for me it also helped us as a family to not constantly lock horns with our teenage children. Mainly my husband and my sons.

Fathers play a very crucial role in upbringing of their children and especially during teen years their impact on their teenager sons are not to be taken lightly.

Read our popular article 11 Amazing ways FATHER’S contribute to child’s success but if you have teen teen son. You must read our article How-To deal with teen sons – A father’s perspective.

By having a schedule and timetable demystifies the way children spend their time. And brings about some predictability in their routine.

We as parents need to accept that our teenagers will…

  • Like to get up a bit late, spend more time at night, wish for some quiet time, and not having parents on the back.
  • They can create an impression of being a little lonely and try to be a bit mysterious.

Respect that, on the condition that he respects school and its assignment and studies.

Entrust teen with responsibilities

Parents can involve teenagers in some day today activities.

They can ask their adolescents for help as per their age. Things like to drop in a cheque in the bank. Recharge a phone. Pay utility bills. Etc.

Ask them to take responsibility, to help their siblings with their school projects or homework while we are teleworking,

 Ask them to participate in household chores etc.

If your team is interested, it is also better to give the responsibility of another living being to your team.

Such as a plant a fish a pet anything that your team can feel responsible for and relate to it.

For my elder son, in his teenage years I feel our pet dog was a very positive experience in his life.

Giving cores is the best way to instill responsibility in your teen. You can read all about it in our article All You Need to know about Chores for Your Teenager

Note: The key is to engage your teen. And as your teen engages with members of your family and yourself.

It gives us opportunity to help reach out to the teenager and in turn try to help then fight their depression.

Also, such involvement will help them feel responsible, loved, and cared for.

Keep an eye while continuing to respect Teen’s privacy

Most teenagers need a little distance from their parents, and it is very hard to have your parents on your back all the time.

So, we respect their need for privacy with simple things like,

  • Do not open the door without knocking,
  • We distribute everyone’s territory well,
  • Accept the fact that they isolate themselves in their rooms for a given time.
  • They can have a bit of scheduled screen time.
  • There is a distance, a space to respect to limit conflicts.

All the above this will show your teen that you are respecting them as an individual. You are still trusting them. And you are not chocking them up.

Video time: Expert opinion about sign of depression in kids


Prevention is always better than cure. So, with awareness, open lines of communication help a lot in preventing an occurrence.

However, if you still feel your teenager is battling depression. It be a stressful situation for you.

The best resort that we have as parents is to keep our emotions in check, accept and acknowledge the situation.

Once you have acknowledged the issue at hand the next steps that we can do logically is seek and ask for help and guidance.

Help and guidance not necessarily means only for your teen who is battling depression. But it will also be needed for the rest of the family members also.

Which will be right from grandparents, siblings (so that they do not follow the same path) and of course your spouse and yourself.

Getting more aware of the situation. Joining in support groups along with parents who are in similar situation as yourself.

Gives you strength that you are not battling the problem alone.

It might also give you the strength to carry on and get some encouragement that there is always light in the end of the tunnel. 

God Bless!


I like to make a disclaimer here. I am not a Psychiatrist / Doctor / medical professional and more about me or my team you can read in About Me page.

However, I am a mother growing 3 kids. Two of which are well into their teenage years.

I am a very concerned parent. And have been in the look out for signs of depression in my teen sons.

I also, I have had instances where I am aware of my kid’s friends battling depression and taking help for it.

I have written this article, basis my experience, my talk with experts in this line and research on this topic. And, Things I have watched out for and been cognizant and implemented it in my life with my kids.

I like to emphasize that this is ONLY for knowledge sharing and information purpose. This is not a substitute for any medical or professional advice.

If you are feeling concerned and worried about your kid. Your instinct tells you to be concerned.

As a parent to parent. I would say trust your instinct. And,No one knows better than you as a parent to your child.

It is best to reach out to a qualified practitioner to address your concern. And do this immediately. Time is one of the main essences in these matters.

If you wish to know more on our disclaimer. We have shared the link here for your easy reference. Disclaimer.

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Thabitha David

Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend. She is a MBA Graduate specialized in Human Resources. She is a very proud mother of 3 Kids. (2 Teens & 1 Tween). She is a keen Observer of Life and is a blogger. She writes these articles based on her experience (Success and Failures). She does this with hope to help and ease the pain of at-least one parent as they face the challenges of parenting. Read more from the About Us Page

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