Teenager behaving weirdly – could it be depression?

Teenage depression is common. Teenage depression is not diagnosed in time. Ironically both statements are true. There is not much known about teenage depression and parents are not informed enough about the condition. They fail to see the signs of depression in their child. Learning to recognise the symptoms of depression is a step closer to healing. Take that step - and help your child.

Parents generally ignore symptoms of depression in their teens, passing them off as normal teenage behaviour. There is some truth in the assumption that most teenagers act difficult. There is a lot happening in their lives – physical changes, hormones playing havoc and the ubiquitous peer group pressures. They have to deal with a cocktail of emotions which they cannot handle, and it shows in their strange behaviour. The irony is that teens do not realise how obnoxious their behaviour is. However, not all teen behaviour is normal. A large number of teens, who appear unhappy and irritable all the time, may be suffering from depression.

Is it depression?

Media reports convey that depression, among teens, is on the rise. Parents fail to differentiate between normal teenage behaviour and depressive behaviour, which is why the condition goes undetected, most of the time. Experts say that any odd behaviour that lasts more than 2 weeks should be investigated.

There are always tell-tale signs that should signal that there is a problem. Teens withdraw into a shell, exhibiting a lack interest, shutting themselves in their room, for hours at a stretch. They can sleep excessively, become short-tempered and exhibit never before witnessed unusual behaviour.

Parents must seek professional intervention if their teen shows any of the following symptoms for a prolonged period –

  • Binge eating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Excessive or very less sleep
  • Constant lethargy
  • Low self esteem
  • Crying for no reason
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Constant feeling of guilt
  • Unable to make decisions
  • Neglect of personal hygiene
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Complaints of aches and pain
  • Thoughts of death/dying
  • Lack of interest in things
  • No sense of responsibility
  • Defiant and unmanageable behaviour
  • Loss of memory
  • Sudden recluse behaviour
  • Poor grades
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Any other changes that are out of character

The reasons behind teenage depression

There are many reasons teenagers become depressed. It could be a trivial matter or something serious. Adolescents are easily affected and find it difficult to deal with complex situations. They allow external forces to affect them psychologically and often develop feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. Most often their condition is triggered because of an inferiority complex among friends, sexual orientation, and poor academic performance and a troubled home.

Depression doesn't happen overnight; the emotional and psychological upheavals remain bottled up, and the teen gradually becomes depressed.

Is teenage depression hereditary?

Teenage depression that surfaces between the ages of fifteen and thirty can sometimes be due to the genes. Studies show that teenage depression is often connected with a family history of depression and other psychological problems.

How is a diagnosis of teenage depression done?

Diagnosis is done through a series of psychological tests and interviews. The family is also interviewed to gather specific information, about changes in habits and behaviour. The severity of the condition and treatment is determined based on these.

During the diagnosis, psychiatrists also check patients for any other potential co-existing psychiatric disorders, for example, signs of anxiety or complex forms of depression such as psychosis or bipolar disorder. Psychiatrists also evaluate the patients for homicidal features or risks of suicide.

The age group most susceptible to suicide are between eighteen and twenty-four years. Data reveals a higher incidence of self-mutilation and attempted suicide in young females than in teenage boys. However, the rate of suicide among teens is higher in boys.

What is the treatment for teenage depression?

Treatment usually involves multi-pronged methods with psychotherapy and medication playing an active part. The family is also provided therapy, especially in situations where the members are seen as having contributed to the depression. The family is also taught ways to lend support to the ailing teen.

Teens that are diagnosed with severe depression may require hospitalisation in the psychiatric ward, for special evaluation and treatment. Antidepressant drugs are effective, but they do come with a warning. There is a rare chance of them increasing the risk of suicidal thoughts and having adverse effects, instead of being a cure, especially in adolescents. Therefore, their use, in teenagers, requires close monitoring and regular follow-up.

How effective are antidepressants in healing teen depression?

Even though there is a concern over their side-effects, studies show that antidepressants have great success in combating symptoms of depression in adolescents. These reports are based on studies that reviewed three different approaches used for the treatment of teens with moderate to severe symptoms of depression –

  • The first study found the use of the drug
  • Prozac to be effective in treating depression in patients aged between eight and eighteen
  • Research shows that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can successfully help train negative thoughts that result in depression, to positive thoughts that can alleviate the symptoms
  • A combination of antidepressants and CBT have been an equally fruitful approach

Though all three approaches have proved to have worked, the approach combining medication and CBT worked the best. Doctors also prescribe special nutritional supplements to fight depression.

Recognising signs of suicide

Suicide is always a matter of concern. Teenage suicides are on the rise and are attributed to one of the main causes of death among young adults. The pressure of studies, fear of failure, failed relationships; sexual orientation and financial crisis are some factors that lead to depression and suicide in young adults. It is a reason for worry, and steps must be taken to avoid suicides in young adults.

Warning signs of suicide to watch for

There are always indicative signs, as a sort of prelude that those around a depressed adolescent must learn to read, as suicidal.
  • Communicating feelings of hopelessness
  • Speaking of dying
  • Sending goodbye notes and leaving messages that speak of moving on
  • Parting with prized possessions
  • Giving up on life, and acting as if nothing matters
  • Taking to substance abuse
  • Making suicidal threats

Any of the above behaviour must not be taken lightly. Professional help must be taken immediately. Alternatively, parents can call suicide helplines, if they exist in their city.

Here is a list of online suicide prevention hotlines that can be contacted
All these centres are manned around the clock. If your teenager shows signs of being suicidal, get help. Do not ignore the cry for help of your child. Act, and act fast.

How parents can help their depressed teens

Parenting is challenging, but parenting a teenager is the toughest phase in every parent's life. The challenge gets amplified if the teen is also going through depression. Providentially, experts have devised some effective parenting techniques that involve communication. These are effective in reducing stress levels in depressed teens.

  • Disciplining should never be about shaming, blaming or fault finding. Discipline should be a positive reinforcement – applaud the good and the positive. This will boost the sagging morale of a depressed teen, while shaming and punishment will add to the state of despondency and worthlessness
  • Mistakes are part of life, and it's fine when your teenager commits them. Minor mistakes must be seen as learning experiences
  • Show faith in your teenagers. Let them make decisions and choices without interfering too much. You could shatter their confidence and make them feel incapable with too much interference
  • Give your teen space. Do not constantly let them know what they need to do
  • Do not expect your teen to make true your dreams. Your life is different from theirs. Your expectations should not shadow their dreams
  • Give your teen an ear and address their concerns. Always be there for your adolescent child. They get challenged by life's small challenges. Be there to resolve issues
  • Keep communication open. Your teen should be able to come speak to you anytime, about anything. You are the one who should have all the answers. Don't betray that trust your child has in you
  • Learn to listen to the unsaid. There will be many subtle signs that you will need to learn to read. Reach out and help when your child is in distress
  • You can also use the help of a trusted family member or friend, to have a chat with your disturbed child, so the teen can open up to them and share their fears and thoughts
  • If all else fails, there are professional that can assist. Get help!

Can teenage depression vanish without medical intervention

The answer to this, unfortunately, is, no. Teenagers cannot fight depression on their own. There is a pattern with teenage depression, and it tends to repeat itself in episodes. A teenager with a history of depression will most likely go into depression again. If a depressed teen is left untreated the consequences can be really serious and can even result in a fatality.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 552 articles authored by Juana

Related Articles

Nine known symptoms of depression

Of late, depression has become a menace. Many people call depression a curse of modern life. However, very few give proper importance to this mental condition. This is not desirable. The patients of depression also need care, sympathy and protection. However, at the outset, we must know the symptoms of depression. This article discusses the same in detail.

Symptoms And Causes Of Depression And How To Over Come It

This article talks about which is an unpleasant state of , which from any loss, difficulty, failure, frustration or painful experience. We will discuss how depression should be treated with care and with proper medications from a doctor and different modifications in the life style otherwise it will lead to worst and panic situations of life.

Causes Of Depression And How To Overcome it

The following article talks about Depression and ways to stay away from the disease. The word is all pervasive and has become a dreaded word in every society. One must overcome depression to get his life back on track. Overcoming depression requires a lot of will power and dedication.

Diagnosis of abnormal bleeding in teenagers

This article describes about finding out and diagnosing abnormal bleeding in teenagers. Read to know more about abnormal bleeding in teenage girls and the investigations required for diagnosing abnormal bleeding in teens.

More articles: Depression symptoms Causes Of Depression Teenage Recover From Depression


Author: jenny11 May 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 8

Juana, well explained; depression has become a major concern across the globe.

The major depression is disorder of moods leading to sadness, loneliness, anger, frustration and severe emotional and physical symptoms. Depression cannot be cured only with the advice from friends or others, professional help is very much required. People suffering from depression should seek professional help, become active, doing somethings that would relax body and mind such as yoga exercises, walking, developing hobbies etc. Professionals would help the patient in a holistic manner. Depression is curable but may take time. So keeping occupied is very essential for the patient. Communication with friends and family members will help the patient a lot and it's important to eat a balanced food to be physically active and fit. The patient should get support from family members to overcome depression.

Deepika Padukone went through depression and came out of it with renewed positiveness and hope. The Live Long Laugh Foundation started by Deepika Padukone addresses issues related to mental health and is spreading the awareness to remove the stigma associated with mental illness. The foundation creates awareness programmes throughout the nation to reduce mental illness and help others to deal overcome mental illness. The foundation was started on October 10th (World mental health Day) 2015. The foundation also started a campaign called "You Are Not Alone" to address high school students with the problems of stress, anxiety and depression. The foundation is a common platform for all individuals to access and obtain information about mental health, connect with professionals and seek help. A quote of the foundation: "We Know those going through depression, anxiety or stress want to have a deeper understanding of themselves. They want to feel reassured that there's help"

Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao13 May 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

Many parents couldn't identify the difference between normal teenage behaviour and depression. If it identified and proper treatment is given means, the child will become alright. Otherwise, the depression will increase as the age increases and the future of the person will go bad. Mainly the parents should have a proper observation of their children and see that they will behave normally. In schools, some teachers insult some students compared with other children where the problem of depression starts. A proper mentoring in school and proper treatment from parents will be very helpful to come out of depression.

We should encourage and see that he will be out of the shell. Parenting is very important in this issue.

Author: Juana15 May 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 12

In India, depression is looked upon as something to be ashamed of, like you said, there is a certain stigma attached to the condition. A lot needs to be done to deal with this problem since it is slowly becoming an epidemic of sorts.

1. There is not much information about the condition. There should be state sponsored awareness programmes on television
2. Schools, colleges and other institutions should compulsorily have qualified counsellors
3. Teachers should be taught to recognise symptoms of depression
4. There should be workshops for parents on teenage issues, so they are better equipped to recognise signs of trouble
5. Teenagers should be taught how to deal with stress. They should be encouraged to share their problems with someone trusted - and here the role of the parents and teachers becomes significant

It was very courageous of Deepika to have spoken openly about her problem. At least it brought to the forefront an issue that no one wants to speak of.

Thank you for liking the write-up and leaving your comments.

And finally, you got my name wrong – it’s Juana!

Author: Juana18 May 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

Srinivasa Rao,

Very rightly said, most parents are unable to identify depression in their teenage kids. The reason I think is because of the lack of awareness and the stigma that is attached to mental disorders. Parents must learn to read signs of the problem, but they can only do so if they know it is a problem.

Yes, depression can be cured through medication and counselling. However, I feel teenagers should have healthy environments to grow up in – at home and at school. Parents fighting and other abusive behaviour at home can have an impact on teens. Parents put too much pressure on their children and have high expectations from them put children under a lot of stress.

Children are also vulnerable to various forms of bullying in school, and schools must ensure a safe environment for all students. Bullying and ragging can lead to depression.

  • Do not include your name, "with regards" etc in the comment. Write detailed comment, relevant to the topic.
  • No HTML formatting and links to other web sites are allowed.
  • This is a strictly moderated site. Absolutely no spam allowed.
  • Name: