Depression In Teens

Written by Laurel Edinburgh, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

It’s normal for teens to experience depression at some point during their adolescence. But remember that depression in teens is treatable. The symptoms of depression in adolescents may be different than those in adults. Recognizing the full range of symptoms of depression is an important first step.

Depression can be screened for and diagnosed by a pediatrician, nurse practitioner, or therapist.  Asking about depression symptoms is key to getting help.

Parents should look for these signs:
1. Excessive irritability
2. Generally depressed mood
3. Feelings of worthlessness
4. Trouble concentrating
5. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
6. Sudden severe weight gain or weight loss
7. Sudden loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
8. Self-harming
9. Thoughts of suicide
10. Drug or alcohol use

Depression can be especially difficult to diagnose and treat when it occurs at the same time as trauma, anxiety, substance abuse, or ADHD.

Parents can’t stop teens from feeling depressed but parents can model how to ask for help. It’s okay to say “I care about you and I’m worried about how you are feeling.”  Parents can follow up and say “I’m going to find a therapist, nurse practitioner, or pediatrician to help you.”

Depression is treatable and with appropriate treatment adolescents can recover. Treatment with therapy and medication, when indicated, can help teens return to a healthy developmental trajectory. When depression goes undiagnosed, teens suffer. This can even be life threatening. Teens themselves want to thrive and with parental support and mental health treatment they will.

About The Author
Laurel Edinburgh is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who uses a collaborative approach in her practice. She works closely with her patients and their parents to assess, diagnose, and treat ADHD, PTSD, chemical dependency, and mood disorders. Additionally, Laurel is trained in the medical management of adolescents and young adults with substance abuse disorders. She provides medication-assisted treatment with Suboxone/Bupinorphine.

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