Symptoms of Depression in Adolescence

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There is a marked increase in the incidence of depression in the teenage years, with a peak of onset at age 15. In this age group, twice as many girls are affected as boys.

Depression in teens can be masked by outstanding school performance, school leadership, and “ideal behavior”. Depressed adolescents who cannot rely on popularity or academic performance to disguise their condition may try to avoid any attention at school. Behaviors or symptoms of depression in adolescence teens include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty; crying
  • Appearing lethargic, slow-moving, sleepy; conversely, inability to control hyperactivity
  • Extreme sensitivity in interpersonal relationships; highly reactive to rejection or criticism; and “dropping” friends they’re having problems with
  • Irritability, grouchiness; may find comfort in sulking and cannot be cajoled into a better mood
  • Overreacting to disappointment or failure; can take months to recover from setbacks
  • Feeling restless and aggressive; antisocial actions including lying to parents, cutting school, shoplifting
  • Thinking they are different, no one understands, and believing “everyone” looks down on them
  • Increasing isolation from family and schoolmates;
  • Shifting down to an out-of-the-mainstream peer group or “hanging out” exclusively with one friend
  • Self-destructive behaviors may include cutting; at high risk of “self-medicating” with drugs and/or alcohol
  • Ignoring their appearance
  • Experiencing morbid imaginings and thoughts of death

Do you recognize these symptoms of depression in adolescence in your classroom? How do you deal with it?

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Recognizing Early-Onset Mental Health Disorders in Children

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