At a Glance: Signs of Depression in Your High-Schooler

By Peg Rosen

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It’s important to take signs of depression seriously. If you’re concerned your teen may be suffering from depression, use this chart to help identify potential symptoms.

39Found this helpful
At a Glance: Signs of Depression in Your High-Schooler

About 1 in 10 teenagers will be diagnosed with depression by age 18. Those numbers are even higher for teens with learning and attention issues. Here are some warning signs that may show your child has a problem.

Loss of Joyfulness
What it looks like: You invite your child out to the mall for a day of shopping, but she turns you down. Even free clothes won’t lure her from her room these days.
Why it matters: Red flags for depression include low energy, social withdrawal, and loss of interest in favorite pastimes.

Unexplained Aches and Pains
What it looks like: She’s tired and achy and often says she doesn’t feel well enough to go to school. But repeated tests and visits to the doctor show that she’s physically OK.
Why it matters: Depression can take the form of physical symptoms, especially in young people.

Extreme Despair
What it looks like: Your child seems to have given up on her schoolwork and keeps saying how sad and worthless she feels.
Why it matters: A teen who talks about feeling hopeless or misunderstood for an extended period of time may have or be at risk for depression. And any mention of suicide should always be taken very seriously.

Change in Daily Habits
What it looks like: You’ve started to find empty pints of ice cream and candy wrappers hidden in your child’s closet. That may explain why she’s been gaining weight.
Why it matters: Eating or sleeping more—or less— than usual is a common symptom of depression.

Self-Destructive Behavior
What it looks like: You can’t understand why your child is wearing long sleeves, even though it’s July. Finally, you discover she’s hiding cut marks on her arms.
Why it matters: Cutting, sexual promiscuity, substance abuse and other self-damaging behaviors can be a depressed teen’s way of crying out for help or distracting herself from her emotional pain.
Graphic of At a glance: Signs of depression in your high school child
Graphic of At a glance: Signs of depression in your high school child

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About the Author

Portrait of Peg Rosen

Peg Rosen writes for digital and print, including ParentCenter, WebMD, Parents, Good Housekeeping and Martha Stewart.

Reviewed by

LPortrait of aura Tagliareni

Laura Tagliareni, Ph.D., is a pediatric neuropsychologist in New York City and a clinical instructor at NYU Langone Medical Center.

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