Adolescent depression

Alternative Names

Depression – adolescents; Teenage depression

Definition of Adolescent depression

Adolescent depression is a disorder that occurs during the teenage years, and involves ongoing sadness, discouragement, loss of self-worth, and loss of interest in usual activities.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Depression can be a temporary response to many situations and stresses. In adolescents, depressed mood is common because of:


Overall, depression can change or distort the way adolescents see themselves and their lives, as well as the people around them. Adolescents with depression usually see everything more negatively, and are unable to imagine that any problem or situation can be solved in a positive way.

Signs and tests

True depression in teens is often difficult to diagnose, because normal adolescents have both up and down moods. These moods may alternate over a period of hours or days.


Treatment options for adolescents with depression include supportive care from a medical provider, talk therapy, and possibly antidepressant medications. It is important that treatment be tailored to the adolescent and the severity of his or her symptoms. Families often participate in the treatment of adolescent depression.

Expectations (prognosis)

Depressive episodes usually respond to treatment. Early and appropriate treatment of depression in adolescence may prevent further episodes. However, about half of seriously depressed teens are likely to have continued problems with depression as adults.


Fred K. Berger, MD, Addiction and Forensic Psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/14/2010

Depression in children

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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