Can Teen Depression Be Treated?

For many teens, the teenage phase of their lives is filled with turbulence. People often speak of the dramatic tendencies of teenagers, their attraction to risks, and their sensitivity to situations. Indeed, teenagers can be moody, engage in risky behavior, and act out occasionally. It’s easy to dismiss these things as typical teen behavior. However, sometimes they can be signs of a mental health condition, such as depression. Teen residential treatment may be the best option. About 1.1% of kids between the ages of 10 to 14, and 2.8% of kids between the ages of 15 to 19 experience depression, according to the WHO. 


Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders affecting teenagers. It is a serious disorder that, if left unaddressed, can lead to suicide. In fact, it is a major cause of teenage suicides. Fortunately, there are several methods of treating teenage depression. Keep on reading to find out more.

Signs and Symptoms of Teen Depression 

Teen depression is more than occasional moodiness. Its signs and symptoms manifest as changes in the behavior and emotions of teens that affect their academic and social lives and relationships with others. 

Changes in behavior 

Changes in behavior in depressed teens include:

  • Lethargy 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Poor academic performance
  • Engaging in reckless behavior
  • Self-harm such as cutting
  • Isolating from loved ones
  • Drug abuse

Changes in emotions 

  • Irritability
  • Apathy 
  • Low self-worth
  • Feelings of hopelessness 
  • Extreme self-criticism 
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Inability to 
  • Anxiety 
  • Feeling helpless
  • Low self-esteem 


If a teenager is experiencing several of these things, then there is a possibility that they have depression. However, a visit to a qualified mental health professional for a proper diagnosis is recommended. It is only after a diagnosis that treatment can begin.

Diagnosing Teen Depression

It can be difficult to diagnose depression in teenagers because it may be mistaken for rebellious or emotional teen behavior. If a teenager has multiple symptoms of depression that last for weeks, a medical professional should be consulted.


To diagnose depression, a mental health professional may physically examine a patient to determine if their depression results from a physical condition. A psychological evaluation is also conducted, where a professional speaks to the teen to understand their thoughts and feelings. This evaluation also reveals the presence of other mental disorders. They may also speak to people around the teen. 


The examination and evaluation not only help professionals know if teenagers have depression, but they also help them know the degree of depression and how to treat it.  

Causes of Depression

Certain factors that contribute to the development of teenage depression include:


  • Traumatic childhood events: Traumatic events in one’s childhood, such as the loss of a parent or physical or sexual abuse, may trigger depression in later years. 


  • Chemical imbalances in the brain: Low levels of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the nervous system), such as dopamine and serotonin, can lead to depression. Serotonin controls anxiety, appetite, sleep, and mood, and dopamine is responsible for the feeling of pleasure.


  • Genetics: People with a family history of depression are more likely to develop depression.

Treating Teenage Depression 

Teenage depression is a serious health condition that requires treatment. No single treatment method exists because what works for one teen might not work for another. Hence, depression is treated based on its severity (mild, moderate, or severe) and what works best for the patient.


The following are some treatments for teenage depression:


  • Medication: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressants used to treat depression in people aged 10 to 21. While there are seven Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved SSRIs, only two are approved for use in teens: escitalopram (Lexapro) and fluoxetine (Prozac). These drugs may have side effects, including dizziness, diarrhea, insomnia, and headaches. According to the FDA, in rare cases, they may increase thoughts of suicide in the first few months of use; patients placed on SSRIs should be monitored during this time.


  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy involves visiting a board-certified mental health professional for treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are psychotherapy forms used to treat depression.


CBT is a popular form of psychotherapy. It is geared toward helping teens identify negative thoughts and feelings about themselves and replace them with positive ones. IPT helps patients by guiding them to identify problems in their relationships and communicate and relate better with close friends and family.


A combination of medication and psychotherapy tends to be effective in treating or managing depression. However, in certain cases, one form of treatment might be enough. Patients should consult with a mental health professional to find the best treatment method.

Who Is at Risk of Developing Depression?

The risk of developing depression is higher in some teenagers. Here are some of the teens who are at risk of becoming depressed:


  • LGBTQ+ teens due to guilt regarding their sexuality or stigma from the outside world
  • Teens suffering from a chronic illness that has a large presence in their lives
  • Teens with a family history of depression
  • Teens who have been sexually, physically, or emotionally abused
  • Teens with other mental health conditions such as anxiety or bipolar disorder 
  • Teens who are bullied
  • Teens with body image issues
  • Teens from troubled homes

Helping Teens With Depression 

While treatment is necessary for teens with depression, support can also help them feel better. Loved ones can help teens cope with depression by being there for them. Here are some ways that loved ones can provide support to depressed teens:


  • Patience: Depression can’t be cured within a short time. Teens can become irritable and lash out. When loved ones treat them with patience when this happens, it reassures them that they are with them every step of the way.
  • Encouraging eating and sleeping: Insomnia and a loss of appetite are symptoms of depression;
  • Encouraging but not forcing them to spend time with others. 
  • Encouraging exercise: Exercise releases endorphins and provides a distraction from depressive thoughts.
  • Reassurance: Teens can benefit from the reassurance that they have worth and don’t need to be perfect.


Depression can be frustrating, both for teens experiencing it and their loved ones. It is important that teenagers receive treatment. Supporting them is important, but loved ones of depressed teens should also pay attention to their mental well-being. They can provide sufficient support only if they’re emotionally healthy themselves.

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].