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Is it Normal for a Teenager to be Depressed?

Many teens are going through the most difficult transition in their lives thus far, which is why many parents wonder, is it normal for a teenager to be depressed? This is a common question parents ask, and the answer all depends on the severity of the depression.


Teen depression symptoms can range from light to severe, and should be treated accordingly. Many teens are going through struggles and pressures they have never faced before, which is why teen depression is so common. However, there are varying degrees of this that range from a normal amount of sadness to suicidal tendencies. In many situations the light symptoms of depression need to be addressed before this depression worsens to include more severe symptoms like suicidal tendencies and self-harm. 

Causes of Teen Depression:

Too much stress and life-changing conditions can contribute to feelings of depression and sadness for many teens. Some of these pressures can include loss of a loved one, a major life change like a move to another city or location as well as stress with school, bullying, peer pressure and other factors. Other depression risk factors include major changes in the lives of their loved ones like divorce of their parents or parents who have financial problems or relationship problems. Teens may also feel alienated from their parents, or might not understand how they can communicate with their parents. This might provide the risk factor that the teen, even if they are feeling sad or depressed, may not know how or understand how to tell their parents about their emotional struggle. Many teens might also not want to admit to feeling week or upset and will not tell their parents about they depression symptoms. 

Teen Depression Symptoms: 

When parents are asking, is it normal for a teenager to be depressed, they might first want to consider the symptoms. It is normal for a teen to experience a certain amount of sadness during their teen years, but once those symptoms reach dangerous and life-altering levels, it is imperative to get help quickly. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Apathy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Struggling with school
  • Complaints of physical pains like headaches, back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Irresponsible behavior like forgetting obligations, failure to do homework, skipping school
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Memory loss and difficulty making decisions
  • Withdrawal from friends, or changing friends
  • Sadness, anxiety and hopelessness
  • Self-mutilating behaviors like cutting or burning
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies

There is a different between being sad, depressed and suicidal. The first is normal for any teen to experience. Teens may feel sad because of pressures in school, broken relationships and friendships as well as other day-to-day struggles. It is normal when a teen is sad or experiencing light depression symptoms to act angry and frustrated. However, once those depression symptoms begin worsening to include impacting school performance, sleep and eating schedules as well as increasing irresponsible behaviors, it is time to consider talking to your teen about getting professional help. However, sometimes parents do not notice their teen's sadness developing into depression and they do not catch it soon enough. This is when teens begin getting more and more depressed to include more severe symptoms that greatly impact their life. They may begin failing classes altogether, drinking and doing drugs as well as starting on more destructive behaviors like cutting themselves. These are all signs that they could begin heading toward developing suicidal tendencies. From this point it is essential to get your teen help as soon as possible before they try to act on their suicidal feelings because this level of depression is not considered to be normal in teens or anyone else.

Treatment for Teen Depression

This usually includes some form of therapy and sometimes antidepressants. Rely on the recommendation from your health care professional and what your teen feels most comfortable with to determine the most appropriate form of treatment. Some teens are easily able to get past their depression by just talking to someone about their struggles in a therapeutic session. However, some teens do better by taking antidepressants. Some teens do the best with a combination of both. However, it is important to talk to your doctor about the types of antidepressants because some medications can actually interact more harshly with a teen's ever-changing hormones and might actually make the depression worse. However, first and foremost it is important to have an open dialog with your teen to make sure you know what they are going through. This is the best way to help them face their struggle and avoid ever falling into a pit of depression.

Sources: webmd.com 

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