Depression in Teenagers

Amanda Hall, M.A.
Wishing Star Associates

Depression is a common mental health challenge that can affect people of any age. In Canada, one out of every five children or youth will experience a period of depression by the time they are 18. (Blisker, M et al, 2005). Depression can be like wearing a set of dark glasses; all the information that youth take in is coloured by their negative perceptions about themselves, their family and friends, and the world around them, leaving them with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.  When left untreated, depression can develop into suicidal thoughts and desires. Due to the unique developmental challenges of adolescence, depression can often be misdiagnosed.  Parents often wonder if the moodiness or shifts in behaviour they witness in their teen are just part of a phase or if they are indicative of something more serious. Common symptoms of adolescent depression include:

  • Irritability
  • Isolation
  • Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities
  • Low motivation
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • School avoidance
  • Poor sleep habits
  • Poor eating habits
  • Poor hygiene
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Drop in grades
  • Substance use
  • Persistant boredom

Therapy can provide youth and children with the tools they need to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, to challenge negative thinking patterns, and to provide a safe place to express their feelings.  Therapy can also help with the social problems that can occur alongside the symptoms of depression.

Things you Can do to Help a Teenager with Depression:

  • Be curious about the meaning behind their behaviours, try to avoid jumping to conclusions
  • Reach out to them and let them talk about their feelings
  • Ask directly about possible suicidal thoughts


In case of emergency, contact 9-11 or the Kids Helpline (24/7) at 1-800-668-6868.

If depression persists for longer than two weeks, contact a professional. Your family doctor, a Registered Clinical Counsellor, or a Registered Psychologist can all help. If you feel your child may be suffering from depression, or if you would like more information on this topic, please contact The Wishing Star at 778-294-8732.

This blog posting is not a form of psychological counselling, advice, therapy, or assessment and should not be used as such by any individual. This blog posting is provided only as an article intended to encourage thought and discourse. For specific psychology related services, please contact an appropriate healthcare provider.