Teen girl crying due to depression

Signs, Symptoms, & Causes of Teen Depression & Suicide

What is teenage depression? Teen depression is a mental health disorder found in youths ages 12-17. It is an overwhelming feeling of sadness and solitude that can cause further adverse feelings and actions.

Are you concerned that your teenager is acting differently? Maybe their moods have changed or their actions differ than how they were even just a few weeks ago. While teenage years are spent coping with hormones, impactful life experiences, and new interactions, there is a chance your child is experiencing something deeper than common emotions.

Teen depression is a mental disorder that is more common than parents realize. Major depression has been found to affect more than 9 million people in the United States alone. Teenage, or adolescent, depression has seen an all-time high within recent years. Between the years of 2013-2016, the diagnosis rate for teenage depression increased by 67 percent! Boys have been affected more by 47 percent and girls by 65 percent.

If you believe your child could be experiencing depression, now is the time to actively seek solutions. But how can you tell if your child is experiencing depression? This can be a tricky question for parents and guardians who don’t necessarily understand the common signs and symptoms of teen depression. 

If you’re unsure how to uncover your child’s possible mental health state of depression, we implore you to review these signs, symptoms, and causes of the unfortunate youth epidemic that’s spreading across America.

What are the Signs and Symptoms that My Teen has Depression?

Depressed female teen looking out the window

Teen depression is very serious as it not only affects the mental health of your child, but also their physical health along with their overall behavior and attitude. Depression can cause your child to lose interest in regular activities and can even create a desire for loss of their own life (suicide). Looking at the early signs of your child’s behavior, mood, and actions can increase your chances of saving them from severe problems.

We would like to point out that there is a significant difference between depression and sadness. To avoid confusion when understanding your child’s condition, the differences between depression and sadness are:

Depression: A mental disorder that attracts other negative feelings and actions, causing the afflicted person to feel emotions such as hopelessness and complete loss of interest.
Sadness: A common human emotion that occurs when stress or somberness afflicts someone.

When sadness becomes depression, this is a state of mind that your child could experience at any time of the day, night, or even at all times. A doctor may diagnose your child with depression, also referred to as Major Depression Disorder (MDD), based on the following signs and symptoms.

Symptoms in Mood

  • Feeling sad more often, even toward “small” things
  • Crying spells (crying for no particular reason or on random occasions)
  • Feeling of hopelessness, emptiness
  • Irritability, frustration, anger, anxiety, or annoyed mood
  • Losing appreciation or interest in regular activities
  • Losing appreciation or interest in communication or interactions with family members or friends
  • Low self-esteem or being overcritical of themselves
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, unwanted, unappreciated
  • Obsessing over past occurrences such as failures
  • Overreacting to rejection and failure
  • Difficulties with concentration, decision making, remembering, or general thinking
  • Bleak thoughts of death, suicide, dying, or other “dark” thoughts

Symptoms in Behavior

  • A general belief and vocalization that life is meaningless
  • Sleeping too much or sleeping too little
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigued or loss of physical movement
  • Excessive needs for wanting to stay inside or always be outside of the home
  • Social withdrawal or withdrawal from social activities (social isolation)
  • Poor school performance
  • Unusual appetite changes: Signs of weight loss (decrease of eating) or weight gain (increase of eating)
  • Substance abuse: Alcohol or drug use
  • Restlessness, unable to stay still for periods of time
  • Unexplainable pain in chest, stomach, or recurring headaches
  • Slow speech, movements, motor control, or having lower energy
  • Running away from home
  • Zoning out, losing focus on their current surroundings

If your child is experiencing any or many of the above symptoms or signs, diagnosing them for teen depression will provide you with a better understanding as to how to help them. Seeing a doctor or counselor to diagnose your child will not only help your child understand what they’re going through and why they’ve been feeling so badly, but will also grant you the opportunity to find them help to make their lives better.

Signs and Symptoms of Teen Suicide

Male teen on bridge thinking about suicide

An unfortunate reality for parents and legal guardians of the 21st century is teenage suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for children ages 12-17. This is a frightening statistic when unintentional injuries and homicides are placed in the top two leading positions of death. Depression, if untreated, can lead to teenage suicide.

It is important to understand the signs and symptoms your teen may be showing that can lead to suicide.

Teen Suicide Symptoms

  • Researching ways to commit suicide
  • Writing or speaking about death
  • Discussing what it could be like if they “weren’t around”
  • Consistent need to think about suicide
  • Performing self-afflicted harm such as cutting, bruising, scraping, and bleeding
  • A severe feeling of not being heard, understood, or seen
  • Social isolation or becoming mute during conversations
  • An increase in strong emotions such as anger, sadness, agitation, and fear

In the case that your child is experiencing symptoms of suicide, immediate action is required for their health and well-being. If you believe they are going to attempt suicide, you should contact the following professional services for assistance and DON’T leave your teenager alone.

Professionals to contact in case of a suicidal attempt:

The important thing is to keep your child company and let them know that they have someone they can discuss any problems with. Letting them know they are heard and not judged for their actions or behaviors will help them feel more comfortable.

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

What Causes Teen Depression?

Male teen sad and sitting down

What is the main cause of depression among youth? Teen depression can be caused or triggered by a multitude of problematic events. However, correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation. While the following list of causes could have led to your teen’s depression, a professional diagnosis or therapy could lead to the discovery of your child’s depression.

Teen Depression Causes

  • Genetics or hereditary depression passed down to your child
  • Medical conditions related to neurological properties adversely affecting the natural chemicals of the brain controlled by neurotransmitters
  • Hormones such as PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and hypothyroidism
  • Traumatic experiences in early childhood, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
  • Peer pressure from other teenagers or adults
  • Medications or illegal drugs

Seeking Treatment for Teen Depression

If your child is experiencing depression, it’s time for you to seek professional help. While choosing to help them yourself by communicating with them more or keeping them by your side more often may improve their depression, the opposite could occur. Have your child speak with a mental health doctor or schedule therapy sessions to assist with your teen’s depression.

Professional teen depression treatment programs can also assist in bringing back your happy and healthy child.

Many different teen treatment centers across the world offer variations of treatment therapies. Some of these therapies include in-home treatment, animal-therapy, and nature-therapy. Depending on your child’s needs, you can communicate the symptoms of your child with a qualified residential treatment center to choose the program that’s right for them.

Your child doesn’t need to continue to be depressed and they don’t have to think about suicide as their last effort to find peace of mind. Talk with a professional at a residential treatment center today to find what the next steps are for helping your teen get back to the happiness and life they deserve.

Depression doesn’t need to last forever. You don’t have to lose your child to this mental health disorder.

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