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The Impact of Depression on Teen Mental Health

By July 17, 2023Depression

Depression, clinically referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), and is characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities. Depression affects the way a teenager feels, thinks, and acts, and it can cause emotional, functional, and physical problems. The symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe. Still, it can be difficult to distinguish between behaviors associated with typical teenage insecurities and those that may be indicative of depression. The Mayo Clinic provides common examples of teenage depression symptoms, some of which include:

  • Low self-esteem.
  • Irritable.
  • Hopelessness.
  • Crying spells.
  • Feelings of sadness.
  • Irrational feelings of anger and/ or frustration.
  • Conflict with family and friends and/ or social isolation.
  • Seeks excessive external validation and reassurance.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Compromised memory.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Sleep disturbances (i.e., insomnia, sleeping too much).
  • Substance abuse.
  • Weight fluctuation.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Random body aches and pains.
  • Lacks personal hygiene.
  • Self-harming behavior (i.e., burning, cutting, excessive piercing, etc.).
  • Suicidal ideation.

The combination and severity of symptoms that manifest will be specific and unique to each teen. Major depressive disorder that goes untreated can increase the risk of developing diabetes, osteoporosis, substance abuse, and more. MDD is a complex psychiatric disorder that affects mood, cognition, behavior, and impedes adaptive functioning.

Depression on Teen Mental Health

Although depression can develop at any age, symptoms commonly surface in adolescence and young adulthood. Unfortunately, teenage depression is highly prevalent. The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that an estimated 3.2 million adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode (which makes up 13% of the U.S. population in that age group). More recent findings from a 2021 survey illuminated that 1 in 4 teens self-reported feelings of general anxiety and depression. This prompted the declaration of a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health by the American Academy of Pediatrics along with the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Children’s Hospital Association.

For Information and Support 

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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