Although depression is a serious mental health problem and, unfortunately, common, today it is especially worrying in adolescents, where it is considered that between 5% and 10% could receive this diagnosis.

Depression is characterized by a feeling of constant sadness and loss of interest when carrying out various activities, making it difficult to have a normal life and carry out regular activities. This affects the way in which the person who suffers from it thinks, feels and behaves, and can cause emotional, functional and physical problems. However, its symptoms among adolescents can be very different from those of adults.

Adolescence is a stage of life crisis, with emotional dysregulation and a misalignment of consciousness, and therefore , is one of the stages of greatest risk for the onset of depression. This depression can be motivated by peer pressure, expectations imposed on them, or body changes. Although for many teenagers this feeling of sadness is temporary, sometimes it can hide something much more important.

How can we distinguish depression in adolescents?

Emotional changes

  • Feelings of sadness: for example, crying spells for no apparent reason.
  • Anger or frustration.
  • Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness.
  • Changing mood: generally, the adolescent is irritated.
  • Loss of interest in carrying out common activities.
  • Loss of interest or conflicts with friends and family.
  • Low self-esteem: lack of self-esteem, or even guilt.
  • Fixation on theirmistakes, self-blame or exaggerated self-criticism.
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection or failure, and great need for approval.
  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions, remembering things…
  • Recurring thoughts about death or suicide.

Behavior changes

  • Loss of energy.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Consumption ofalcohol and/or other substances.
  • Agitation or restlessness.
  • Slowness when speaking, thinking or moving.
  • Headaches or complaints about them.
  • Social isolation.
  • Poor performance or absences from school.
  • Reduction in hygiene or care for personal appearance.
  • Behavioral changes: irritability, disturbance, etc.
  • Self-harm.
  • Suicide attempts or planning of the same.

If we suspect that the teenager is suffering from one or more of these changes, it is best to talk to him about his feelings and the things that may happen to him at home or at school. In addition, it would also be necessary to communicate this to the adolescent’s doctor, and even carry out an evaluation to detect depression.

What causes depression?

Depression can be caused by a multitude of factors, but there are some that tend to be common:

  • Brain chemistry: When neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) are abnormal or deficients, the functions of the nervous system change and can give rise to depression.
  • Hormones: hormonal changes may be involved in the cause of depression.
  • Inherited traits: Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also suffer from it.
  • Stressful events in childhood: Certain traumatic events during childhood can cause changes in the brain, making a person more susceptible to depression.
  • Learned negative thinking patterns: For adolescents, depression may be related to learning to feel frustrated or hopeless rather than capable.

Risk factors

In addition to the common causes, there are certain risk factors that influence when developing this disease:

  • Personal problems: obesity, bullying, or academic problems.
  • Family conflicts or dysfunctional families: especially when violence occurs at home.
  • Adjacent diseases: suffering from other mental health diseases, continuous pain or other chronic physical diseases.
  • ADHD: suffering from learning deficiencies or attention deficits.
  • Certain personality traits: low self-esteem, dependency, excessive self-criticism or pessimism.
  • Abuse of alcohol, nicotine or other substances.
  • Diverse sexuality: being different in an environment that rejects it.

Can depression be prevented?

Actually, we cannot say for sure that there is a way to prevent depression. However, there are some strategies that canhelp us. For example:

  • Healthy habits: promoting certain behaviors, such as a healthy diet, exercise, or building positive relationships< /strong>, can help improve the adolescent’s behavior.
  • Safety and protection: in this case, it is important to initiate or improve communication with the adolescent, in the way could be more comfortable for him, and always without pressuring or forcing the situation or himself.
  • Stress control : we can help the adolescent to increase her resilience and improve her self-esteem . Learning or promoting relaxation, understanding and adaptation techniques is very important during these ages.
  • Support: seek and offer support from friends and family.
  • Treatment and safety plan: at the first sign of the problem, we must go to a professional to avoid the most serious situation. In addition, we must strictly follow the recommendations of said professional.

What treatments are available for depression in adolescents?

Generally, depression in adolescents can be treated with psychotherapy or talk therapy, or a combination of these and medications >.


Talk therapy, also called psychological support, is able to help understand and control feelings and mood. To do it, you have to go to a therapist, and clearly express your emotions. There are two specific types that can help more easily:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: This type of therapy helps identify and change negative thoughts and develop skills to cope with problems and change patterns of behavior.
  • Interpersonal therapy: the objective of this therapy is to improve social relationships. It helps to understand and work on problematic relationships, and change behaviors that may cause problems. In addition, it is able to explore the problems adjacent to depression.


Sometimes it is necessary to use certain medications in addition to psychotherapy. If following this type of treatment, it is important to visit the medical professional frequently. However, it must be taken into account that certain medications can cause side effects in adolescents, and for this reason, especially during the first days, it should be studied. the behaviorof the adolescent.


Copyright © 2023 Psicología Ítaca. All rights reserved