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Teens and Depression

Is it "growing pains" or depression?

Teenage emotions can swing from high to low in what can seem like minutes. That makes it hard to tell if the person is just "being a teenager" or if it's depression. As a result, it can be hard for parents, teachers, and friends to recognize the symptoms of teen depression.

Depression affects everything: the body, mood, and thoughts. It changes eating and sleeping habits. It has been linked to poor performance in school, absenteeism, drug and alcohol abuse, and feelings of hopelessness. It affects the way you feel about yourself. If these symptoms persist longer than two weeks, then it's probably depression.

What is the impact?

One of the most serious impacts of depression in teens is the link to increased risk of suicide.

Each year 250,000 teens attempt suicide and 2,000 are successful a rate that has doubled since 1960. Girls are more likely to attempt suicide, but boys are four times more likely to carry it through.

Why does it happen?

The reasons for depression are complex. Adolescents who develop major depression are more likely to have family histories of the illness. Other risk factors include stress, cigarette smoking, the loss of a loved one, relationship break-up, conduct or learning disorders, chronic illness, and abuse or neglect.

What can be done?

Depression can be treated! Early diagnosis and treatment are necessary for a healthy emotional, social, and behavioral transition to adulthood. Symptoms of teen depression include:

  • Intense irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Problems in school
  • Delinquency
  • Drug abuse
  • Social problems

If you are a teen or the parent of a teen who is experiencing any of these symptoms, HAP's Coordinated Behavioral Health Management Department (CBHM) can help. CBHM services are confidential and help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Learn more about depression and HAP's HealthTrack Program to help manage depression.

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