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How to Identify Depression Symptoms in Teens

Since September is Suicide Prevention Month, perhaps it’s time to address the issue of depression and the risks that accompany this condition. Depression symptoms are relatively common these days. From brief episodes of sadness to inexplicable mood swings, we’ve all experienced what could be characterized as depression.

According to the World Health Organization, over 300 million people are living with depression worldwide. However, there’s a huge difference between experiencing depression-like symptoms and having depression.

And the worst part is that depression can affect the younger generation just as much as it affects adult and senior individuals. According to a recent post on, roughly 100 of 1000 teenagers in Southeast Asia have mental health problems. Worldwide, 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental health problems.

Considering these worrying statistics, mental health professionals have begun to develop screening tools that could help teachers, nurses, and parents spot depression symptoms in teens.   

Depression symptoms in teens

In broad lines, depression is a condition that can negatively impact one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. It usually manifests as a deep feeling of sadness coupled with a marked loss of interest in any kind of activities.

To distinguish between ‘textbook’ depression and a fleeting episode of sadness, healthcare professionals use clinical interviews and screening tests.

But when it comes to teenagers, depression symptoms can be somewhat challenging to identify. That’s because adolescence is often marked by constant mood swings, rebellion and other behavioural changes.

Here are some depression symptoms that indicate it’s time for your teen to see a healthcare professional:

  • Spending most of the time locked up in their room or vegging in front of the TV
  • Waking up late and missing morning classes
  • A drop in academic performance
  • Lack of appetite (or overeating)
  • Looking tired and ‘lazy’
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Keep in mind that when it comes to depression, prevention is always more effective than treatment.

To learn more about depression symptoms and treatment options, click here