Teenage and Depression: How to deal with Teen Depression?


Teenage and Depression: How to deal with teen depression?

Teenage and Depression: How to deal with Teen Depression?

[Contributors- Dr.Aude Henin (Psychologist), Erin Miers (Psychology Consultant at Mom loves best)]

“Depression is not a joke! It’s a real illness that doesn’t discriminate. No amount of money or fame can fix it. The funniest man on earth couldn’t just think positive and be healed. Support those who are battling depression and mental health issues. It takes lives!” quoted Robin Williams, an American actor, and comedian. Being depressed is tough. It is tougher if you are a teenager, just evolving and fathoming the world. 

In this article, ‘Teenage and Depression: How to deal with teen depression?” we shall examine why teenagers are more prone to fall into the deep abyss of depression, and also look into the social and biological factors responsible. We shall also look into ways to deal with and outclass it.

Why are teens more prone to being depressed?

Teens are prone to being depressed because there are a lot of changes that occur really fast. Teens nowadays are forced to learn a career path before even knowing how to do their own calculations. High schools make you choose credits that are going to be relevant for your university when you are just a kid, your university is going to affect your job, and your job is going to affect your future as an adult and sometimes that's too much to deal with. Also, we should count on the fact that there is a bigger and larger communication and age gap between parents and kids, which makes it difficult for parents who are supposed to support teens. 

Depression can occur at any age, including childhood.  However, the risk for depression increases significantly during the period between childhood and adulthood i.e adolescence.  During this important developmental period, the brain undergoes dramatic maturation and re-organization, especially in areas associated with emotion, social connection, and self-regulation.  These neural changes are associated with the developmental changes that we see in adolescence, including increased emotionality, a focus on peer relationships, increased independence and self-management.  They are also thought to contribute to the increased risk for depression during this period. Teenagers experience a period of dramatic brain development, as well as body development.

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Brain and Bodily changes

Due to the physical changes happening in their bodies, the emotional experience of teenagers is much more intense than it is for adults and preadolescent children. During adolescence, teens also experience many changes in expectations, stressors, and priorities. These include increased demands for independence and self-management, academic pressures, awareness of societal and world issues, more complex relationships with peers, and initiation of relationships. These major life transitions may increase the risk for depression in teenagers who have underlying vulnerabilities.  We also know that teens who have a family history of depression and those who have experienced major life stressors or trauma earlier in life may be more vulnerable to depression.

Role of Hormones

The combination of powerful hormones and emotions that feel out of control can result in feelings of depression. With the start of high school, teenagers have to navigate new social interactions and often experience feelings of rejection or anxiety. Small snubs and normal occurrences of failure can feel catastrophic to teens because of their sensitivity to their emotions. In terms of environmental factors, teenagers are in a period of development where they may be seeking greater independence, experimenting with substances, engaging with new friend groups, creating an identity separate from their family, managing peer pressure, identifying self in relation to others, and dealing with increased academic, family, and extracurricular responsibilities.

These factors can increase the vulnerability to depression. Teenagers may be comparing themselves with peers, feeling less popular or worthy than others, having a poorer connection and openness with family members about issues arising in life, having difficulty understanding their experience of more intense emotions, and increased isolation. 

In addition, these highly powerful emotions can leave teens reeling, feeling as if they are not only not in control of their lives, but also not in control of themselves. Our sense of control influences our sense of competence and when we feel incompetent or as if we are a burden, it can lead to feelings of depression.

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Symptoms of teen depression

Although moodiness is common in teens, there are several warning signs that may indicate that a teenager is experiencing depression. These include dramatic changes in mood and behavior (losing interest in most activities, persistent, intense irritability or sadness), major changes in sleep or appetite, and suicidal thoughts, comments, or behaviors.

There is still much that is unknown about the causes of depression, and it is likely due to a combination of many factors rather than just one.  The hormonal changes of adolescence are thought to impact the risk for depression via their impact on brain development.  Many of the brain changes described above are related to the effects of hormones such as testosterone or estrogen during puberty.  Estrogen, particularly, is considered an important hormone that plays a significant role in causing depression during puberty.

How to deal with teen depression?

Depression makes it more difficult to engage in pleasant or meaningful activities. Encouraging teens to re-engage in these types of activities little-by-little is an important tool to combat depression. It may be difficult for the teen to do these activities because of their symptoms so it is often helpful to structure them in advance and engage others to help them participate. 


There is increasing evidence that exercise and sleep are powerful interventions for depression.  Maintaining a regular sleep schedule (including avoiding oversleeping) and a regular exercise routine is important. When you exercise your body produces serotonin, boosting your mood, and helping you achieve a sense of well-being. Your sleep patterns too affect your mental health. Insomnia and Hypersomnia are positively linked to Depression. Nothing's better than a good night's sleep. For, it reduces stress, stills the wheels of your mind, reduces the risk of depression, improves creativity, and lifespan too. It's all backed up by scientific research. 


Mindfulness suggests focusing on the present moment. Most of the time, we tend to be either in the future or the past, anxious and worrying. And the byproduct of this is overthinking, which is bad for your mental health, as it is believed to be one of the beginning signs of depression and many other traumatic mental conditions. By training your mind to be in the moment, you can feel more at ease. Mindfulness is the source of all happiness. There are several ways to train your mind to be mindful. You can choose from a wide variety of activities like sketching, painting, embroidery, listening to music, reading a book, doing puzzles, or simply taking a walk, with the main goal being calming your mind. As stated by Eckhart Tollee, "Wherever you are, be there totally."


Depression is often accompanied with relatively lower confidence and self-esteem levels. Mentally, it can be agonizing and excruciating. One of the best ways to boost your self-confidence and self-esteem levels is by saying affirmations. There's a famous proverb which concludes that your thoughts become your reality. Even the law of attraction underscores the above statement. When you practice affirmations, your subjective mind, the subconscious mind accepts your suggestion, and manifests it into reality. Provided, you firmly believe what you say. Practice affirmations early in the morning and right before getting to bed. For, the subconscious works best, then. 


We all have our own fears. Face your fear. For, it's the best way to overcome it. Don't hide in a rabbit hole. Unlike what many people say, your fear gives you strength and when you face it, look into it's eye. It doesn't matter if you win or lose. For, facing your fear in itself, is a tremendous victory. If you've overcome your fear, you can overcome anything. Moreover, when you face your fear, you achieve a sense of self-worth and confidence compared to which nothing seems invincible. As stated by Eleanor Roosevelt, "Do one thing everyday that scare you the most."


Lastly, I advise you to opt for meditation. When it comes to mental trauma and disorders, meditation is the best antidote. It cleanses you from within by identifying the root cause of your trouble. Often in life, the hitch lies within our own mind. Meditation helps in healing yourself. The best part is that it is quite easy. Just find a suitable space, calm and serene one preferably, sit comfortably in a relaxed position, close your eyes, and still your mind. That's it. Simple isn't it?

How to help?

Depression is often an isolating and lonely experience.  It can feel difficult, anxiety-provoking, or shameful for the teen to share and discuss their symptoms.  Giving the adolescent the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without being judged and letting them know that they are not alone are powerful first steps.  Don’t minimize their experience, tell them that “everyone is depressed”, or tell them that they need to “just” fight their depression.  Ask how you can help. According to Emilie Mason, Public Relations Manager at the Anglo-American School of Sofia It’s important to establish a good relationship with the teen and make them feel understood. Listen to what they have to say, ask questions, make them feel like they’re in a comfort zone with you. Show them that you understand what they’re going through and maybe give some examples of your life when you’ve felt the same way. Once they’ve opened up, you can start to gently suggest solutions to their problems. 

Certain stressors can worsen depression symptoms.  In particular, interpersonal conflict such as fighting with parents or rejection by peers often have an especially negative impact on mood.  Limiting criticism, arguments, and conflict with adults and forging positive peer relationships.

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It may be important to address mind and body complaints by attending to negative thought patterns and ways this impacts behaviors and emotions. It is also important to validate and process their emotional experiences and provide self-soothing and emotional regulation strategies when feeling depressed. If you know a teenager who is depressed, it's important to approach them from an open, listening, and nonjudgmental stance. Refrain from problem-solving strategies. Be a witness to their pain and ask how you can be a support to them. If a teenager tells you they are suicidal, believe them.

I hope my article, 'Teenage and Depression: How to deal with teen depression', is of assistance. Subscribe to my newsletter to get all updates delivered straight into your inbox. The best is yet to come. 

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