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    How do parents tell if their teen is depressed?  Here are depression symptoms you may notice in your teen.

    Sleep Disturbance

    Teens may be sleeping too little or too much.  Teens have a biological clock that runs differently than children and adults. Teens are wired to stay up late and sleep in in the morning.  

    If you notice your teen has low energy, bags under their eyes, and needs to nap often those might be signs of sleep disturbance.

    Appetite Changes

    Teens may be eating too much or too little.  Again, teens go through growth spurts so it may be difficult to tell if they are depressed from this one sign alone.  If you notice drastic weight changes it’s time to investigate for mental health issues.


    Teens may not feel joy with things that once brought them pleasure.  If they used to love to play basketball and then all of the sudden stop playing ask them what changed.  

    If they say “I love to play but I just don’t get any happiness from it anymore” ask some follow-up questions.  They could be legitimately bored with the activity or experiencing anhedonia.

    Depressed Mood

    Teens have rapid shifts in mood normally but if you notice your teen seems down in the dumps more than usual it could be a sign of depression.  They may have a negative attitude, low energy, or be more irritable than usual.

    Lethargic/Low Energy

    Teens may move slowly just to piss off their parents especially when they have to be somewhere on time.  However, if your teen appears to resemble a sloth on more days than not it may be a symptom of depression.

    Social Isolation

    Teens love hanging out with their friends.  Teen relationships can be like riding a rollercoaster.  They may be besties one day and mortal enemies the next.

    If you notice your teen hiding in their room and not hanging out with their friends as much that could be a sign of depression.

    Family/Sibling Fighting

    Teens often fight with parents and siblings.  If your teen seems more on edge than normal and picks fights with others often that may be a sign of depression.

    Teens may also be fighting with peers and other adults (teachers) more often as irritability increases in depressed folks.

    Alcohol and Drug Use

    Teens experiment with drugs and alcohol.  Teens drink in social situations due to peer pressure.  Teens may abuse alcohol in order to numb their feelings.  Alcohol is a depressant and can make a depressed mood worse.

    Teens that smoke pot on a regular basis may be self-medicating for a depressed mood.  Teens that may struggle with alcohol and substance abuse need an intervention by mental health professionals asap.

     Suicidal Thoughts or Self Harm

    Teens may have thoughts of ending their lives or choose to hurt themselves such as cutting.  Teens with these kinds of thoughts and behaviors definitely should be evaluated for depression.

    Teens self-harm in order to feel when they feel numb, to prevent completing suicide, or to feel relief when they are overwhelmed.

    Teens with a history of suicide attempts are at high risk for ending their lives.  If your teen has attempted suicide in the past and they are experiencing suicidal thoughts get them treatment asap.

    Marginalzed Community

    If your teen identifies as LGBTQIA they are more likely to experience depression symptoms.  They may exhibit the above-mentioned symptoms combined with the trauma of being bullied or not fitting in with peers.

    LGBTQIA youth are at risk for completing suicide at a higher rate than their non-LGBTQIA peers.

    Academic Disengagement

    Teens with symptoms of depression have more difficulty concentrating and focusing on school work.  Parents may notice a shift in academic achievement which could indicate depression.

    Other teens have struggled for years with academics due to untreated depression.  Academics are a great barometer for checking how your teen is doing socially and emotionally.


    These are some of the most prominent depression symptoms in teens.  Some teens may show several symptoms while others only report one.  Parents should contact a mental health professional for an evaluation if their teens seem to be depressed.

    National Suicide Hotline:  1-800-273-8255