Teenagers experience depression in a manner very similar to adults, but they may experience their emotions more intensely and with greater volatility. Feeling down about a relationship issue or an upcoming exam is normal. Feeling down for months at a time for no particular reason, however, may be a sign of undiagnosed depression.
Teen depression is a serious issue, but can be helped when you know the symptoms. Though the term “depression” can describe a normal human emotion, it also can refer to a mental disorder. Depressive illness in teenagers is defined when the feelings of depression persist and interfere with the teen’s ability to function.
Depression is fairly common in teens and younger children. About 5 percent of children and adolescents in the general population suffer from depression at any given point in time. Teens under stress, who experience loss, or who have attentional, learning, conduct or anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for depression. Teenage girls are at especially high risk, as are minority youth.
Depressed youth often have problems at home. In many cases, the parents are depressed, as depression tends to run in families. Over the past 50 years, depression has become more common and is now recognized at increasingly younger ages. As the rate of depression rises, so does the teen suicide rate.
It is important to remember that the behavior of depressed children and teenagers may differ from the behavior of depressed adults. The characteristics vary, with most children and teens having additional psychiatric disorders, such as behavior disorders or substance abuse problems.