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Teenage Depression - Signs

The peak onset for depression is 13 – 15 years of age


Teenage depression is sadly common place

  • 1 in 15 boys and 2 in 10 girls say they are frequently anxious or depressed1
  • 1 in 100 11 – 16 years olds are seriously depressed2

Signs of depression in teens

It’s often really hard to know if your teenager is depressed.

We expect teenagers to be moody, irritable and emotional at times; hormones and growing up can be hard to deal with. Teenagers are often quite secretive and can hide symptoms. They may be reluctant to talk openly about their feelings and as they become more independent you may have less involvement in their day to day life.


So how do you know if your teenager’s mood is part of normal growing up or something more serious?

Depression is different to sadness. Sadness tends to ebb and flow – depression is present for much of the day and often worse in the morning. Sadness can pass after a few days, depressive episodes often last for two weeks or more.

In our experience, parent’s instinct is often right, so if you are worried about your teenager and notice some of the following signs, it might be helpful to seek professional help.

Issues at school:

  • Truancy
  • Reluctance in going to school / lack of engagement in school activities
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Changes in performance / approach to school work

Social issues:

  • Not enjoying once preferred activities
  • Withdrawing socially – not seeing friends
  • Complaining of feeling lonely
  • Complaining of being bored

Physical signs of depression:

  • Changes to sleep patterns; too little, too much or finding it hard to go to sleep
  • Complaining of muscle aches, stomach-aches, headaches
  • Weight changes, lack of appetite or excessive eating

Emotional signs of depression:

  • Tearfulness, crying a great deal
  • Outbursts of violence or anger
  • Low self esteem
  • Self harm
  • Moodiness
  • Unusual reactions to things – for instance being really upset over small things
  • Talk of suicide or death

If you are concerned that your teenager may be suffering with depression or simply unsure, you can have an information chat with one of our qualified clinical advisors who will advise you on the best option for your child. Call 020 3761 7026 or use the contact us form to request a call back.

Read more about what you should do if you think your teenager is depressed and treatment options for depression.

1 Nuffield Foundation - Changing Adolescence: Social Trends and Mental Health
2 ONS Child and Adolescent Mental Health survey 2004

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