What Is Depression?
Depression does not have to be a life sentence, even though a person experiencing a depressive episode might feel like it is.Many life events can leave us feeling sad or down, but depression is different than just being sad. Situational sadness becomes depression when it lasts longer than 2 weeks, when you experience it for most of the day nearly every day, when your symptoms are distressing, and when you experience a negative impact in one or more areas of your life.1–3
Depression can affect your ability to function at work, school, or home and can reduce your motivation to engage in social and recreational activities.1–3 Common symptoms of depression include:1–3
Feeling sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, or generally pessimistic.
Feeling more irritable than normal.
Not doing the things you used to enjoy because you have no interest and/or motivation.
Feeling easily fatigued or generally lacking energy.
Experiencing changes in your sleep and/or appetite.
Having difficulty thinking, making decisions, concentrating, or remembering things.
Having an increase in physical ailments with no medical reason or evidence as to why.
Thinking of death or suicide.
Depression does not have to be a life sentence, even though a person experiencing a depressive episode might feel like it is. There are treatments that have proven effective, and people with depression typically find relief from a combination of psychotherapy and medication.1,2
Between 4-8% of adolescents currently experience depression, and up to 25% will experience depression by the time they reach the end of adolescence.2The symptoms of adolescent depression manifest differently depending on the developmental stage they are in.2,6
Teenage depression, like depression in adults, has a negative impact on social, school, and family functioning.2,6 Depression during formative stages of childhood and adolescence can impact personality development.2
Unlike adult depression, depression in teenagers may present as increased irritability, instead of low mood.1 Teenage depression is also unlike adult depression because it cannot be easily treated with anti-depressants.2 In fact, medications can make depression symptoms in teenagers worsen and can increase thoughts of suicide.1,2
If you are a teenager or parent of a teenager who may be depressed, contact a teenage depression hotline to get answers about the best treatment options.
Free Hotline Numbers
If your depression has caused you to lose a job, drop out of school, lose touch with family or friends, or if you’ve noticed changes in your sleep and appetite that have not improved, contact one of these free resources to learn more about treating your depression.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
SAMHSA’s behavioral health treatment services locator is an easy and anonymous way to locate treatment facilities and other resources, such as support groups and counselors, to treat and manage depression.
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
If your depression is leading to suicidal thoughts, call the National Hopeline to connect with a depression treatment center in your area. The Hopeline also offers a live chat feature for those who don’t want to (or are unable to) call and can dispatch emergency crews to your location if necessary.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
This national hotline is another valuable resource for people whose depression has escalated to suicidal or other harmful thoughts. Their network of crisis centers provide emotional support and guidance to people in distress and are also available via a chat service and a special hotline number for the hearing impaired: 1-800-799-4889.
National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663
This resource provides brief interventions for youth who are dealing with pregnancy, sexual abuse, child abuse, depression and suicidal thoughts. They also provide referrals to local counseling, treatment centers, and shelters.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). Depression.
Bylund, D. B., & Reed, A. L. (2007). Childhood and Adolescent Depression: Why do children and adults respond differently to antidepressant drugs? Neuro