A Parent's Guide to Adolescent Depression

Nov 01, 2023
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While moodiness in teens can be something of a stereotype, adolescent depression is a real and sometimes serious mental health condition. Though similar to what adults experience, the symptoms of teen depression aren’t always the same.

As your child reaches high school, the burden of maturing expectations and responsibilities sometimes weighs heavily. This pressure can get your child down, but these temporary low moods aren’t depression, even though they might contribute. 

Adolescent depression isn’t logical. Sometimes teens with depression have the usual stumbling blocks of adolescence under control, yet their feelings of sadness and disinterest pervade their emotions and interfere with their ability to function throughout the day. Depression can even cause physical symptoms. 

At Abdow Friendship Pediatrics in Rockville, Maryland, our team can partner with you to support your teen in coping with their depression. We specialize in adolescent mental health issues. We can help you navigate the sometimes hard-to-treat conditions of teen anxiety and depression. 

We’ve prepared this blog to guide you through the experience. 

Recognizing adolescent depression

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between frustration, moodiness, or sadness and depression. Chances are, if you know the reason for your teen’s disposition, it’s not depression. 

Perhaps the best way to recognize depression is through changes in your teen’s behavior and emotions. Typical behavioral changes include: 

  • Lack of energy and tiredness
  • Sleep changes, either sleeping more or less than usual
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Appetite changes
  • Frequent comments about headaches and body aches that have no cause
  • Drop in school performance 
  • Decreased school attendance
  • Decline in personal hygiene
  • Social isolation
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions

Emotional changes might feature: 

  • Sudden mood changes
  • Bursts of anger, often over minor concerns
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities 
  • Signs of poor self-esteem
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection
  • Excessive self-criticism
  • Dark views about life and the future

Often, it’s the change that’s important rather than the specific action or emotion. 

Causes of depression

The precise way depression behaves isn’t known. In most cases, it’s thought that a combination of factors create the feelings of a depressed state. Some of these factors include: 

  • Hormonal changes
  • Brain chemistry
  • Negative thought patterns
  • Genetic connections
  • Traumatic childhood experiences

Treatment for depression typically includes a combination of medication and talk therapy. 

When to seek treatment

Try discussing your teen’s condition with them. Be nonjudgmental, calm yet concerned, and above all, supportive of them as you work toward a solution. If depressive symptoms continue, contact us at Abdow Friendship Pediatrics. 

Depression may pass, but there’s no guarantee, and without treatment, your child’s condition could spiral in on itself. Depressed adolescents could be suicidal without obvious signs. If they show overt signs of suicidal thoughts or actions, treat the situation as a medical emergency. 

Schedule an appointment at Abdow Friendship Pediatrics by phone or online today. We’re standing by to offer the support you and your teen need, when you need it.