This guide helps you to tell the difference between normal teenage “hormonal” behaviour and true clinical depression as well as how to deal with teenage depression. It can be hard to know whether a teenager is simply feeling “hormonal” or whether they are truly depressed. This article features a teenage depression test to help figure out whether your teen is displaying the classic teen depression symptoms.
Counsellors, teachers, and parents may be looking for information on how to help a teen with depression. Or you may be a teenager yourself and wondering if you are clinically depressed and how to deal with teenage depression.
If you suspect that someone you know might be depressed, and in particular, suicidal, please take this very seriously. Here are some resources you can use right away:
Also, interspersed in this article are book recommendations on how to deal with teenage depression and how to help a teen with depression. That way, as you read the article, you will see the best books about teenage depression.
There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that no internet page can give you a solid diagnosis or tell you whether or not you are depressed. The good news is that this page can give you information about teenage depression statistics, facts about teen depression, what causes teen depression, teen depression symptoms, and which clinical teenage depression test is used most often in case you are a counsellor looking for this information (or are simply curious).
There is no substitute for getting medical advice, but this teenage depression test can give you a general idea about teen depression symptoms and severity.
This article also has a series of questions you can discuss with your teen or ask yourself if you are a teen. These are a sort of preliminary teenage depression test. There is no substitute for getting medical advice, but this teenage depression test can give you a general idea about teen depression symptoms and severity.
Teenage depression statistics
…a recent study (Mojtabai, 2016) showed that teenage depression statistics are actually getting much worse.
How many teens suffer from teenage depression? Teenage depression statistics reveal that a whole lot of teenagers are depressed. That may not seem like a surprise since most people realize it is a difficult time of life, but a recent study (Mojtabai, 2016) showed that teenage depression statistics are actually getting much worse. (TIME magazine wrote about these staggeringly high teenage depression statistics.)
Statistics on teenage depression: 12.5% of teens are depressed and teenage depression is on the rise.
Some facts about teen depression: A recent study of teen depression rates (Mojtabai, 2016) found that, between 2005 and 2014, the teen depression rates increased from 8.7% to 11.3%. The same study also found that the rate of depression in young adults, particularly those under 20 years old increased from 8.7% in 2005 to 9.6% in 2014. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in the US, the current rate of depression in adults is 6.7% (as of this writing). The NIMH puts the teen depression rates at 12.5% (even higher than the Mojtabai, 2016 study)
The teenage depression rates are almost double those of adults! It is truly unfortunate how many teens suffer from teenage depression and that much more important that parents and counselors alike learn how to deal with teenage depression.
Why are the teen depression rates so high?
What causes teen depression rates to be so high? You may wonder why teenage depression is getting worse as well as how to deal with teenage depression. I don’t know if any studies have been done on this, but here are some factors that may be boosting the teen depression rates:
- the 2008 recession may be causing feelings of hopelessness about future possibilities
- the rise of cyber-bullying
- the socially isolating effects of the internet (it might seem to bring people together, but it does not)
- over-scheduled lives (many teens today have little to no unscheduled leisure time).
More teenagers might be depressed because their families are doing poorly economically as a result of the recession. Meanwhile, cyber-bullying is on the rise, and that can take many forms. Whatever form it takes, it means that teenagers have a feeling of not being safe wherever they go because the internet is almost everywhere. Also, although it seems like the internet makes it easier to collaborate and communicate with peers, it can also be very isolating. People tend to spend less time actually together in person. Lastly, many teens simply lead incredibly over-scheduled lives where every last minute is scheduled and this can make life incredibly stressful and lead to feelings of depression and despair.
Teenage Depression in Girls vs. Teenage Depression in Boys
…teenage depression statistics show that teenage depression rates are much higher in girls (19.5%)…
The teenage depression statistics show that teenage depression rates are much higher in girls (19.5%) vs. boys (5.8%). This is a truly staggering difference. The question is, what causes this difference, and is it a real difference, or is it a reflection of the different ways girls and boys communicate? It has been found in adults that the difference in depression rates may not be as high as previously expected, but that men express their depression differently from women. Could the same sort of thing be happening in the case of depressed adolescent boys?
19.5% of teenage girls are depressed.
Either way, the depression rate of 19.5% in teenage girls is incredibly high. It is so high that if you suspect your teenage girl is depressed, it is probably worth it to get a professionally administered teenage depression test to find out the severity of the situation and get treatment.
However, before you do get an official teenage depression test, these are the most common signs of depression in teens:
Teenage depression test
Let’s face it. Teens are hormonal and so, sometimes, they are moody or temperamental. However, if you notice changes in personality, mood, or behaviour that persist over time (say two weeks or longer), this could be a sign that there is a bigger problem. As you read the following, when you’re trying to decide whether your teen is depressed or “just being a teenager,” think about the length of time these symptoms have been occurring and how bad they are as well as how different your teen is from their “normal” selves. Most importantly, if you suspect your teenager is depressed, get a professional opinion. And not all professionals are created equally, so you might need to see more than one. Make sure you see someone both you and your teen are comfortable with.
(Note: A teenager does not necessarily have to have all of these teen depression symptoms to qualify as having depression.)
So, here is a basic teenage depression test:
- Does he/she feel sad or hopeless?
- Does he/she display anger, irritability, and/or hostility?
- Does he/she cry often?
- Has he/she withdrawn from family life or from friends (or both)?
- Has he/she lost interest in activities that were previously considered enjoyable?
- Has his/her school performance deteriorated?
- Has his/her appetite increased or decreased noticeably?
- Have his/her sleeping patterns dramatically altered — sleeping all the time or not at all?
- Does he/she seem restless or agitated?
- Does he/she feel worthless?
- Does he/she feel excessive feelings of guilt?
- Has he/she lost enthusiasm and/or motivation?
- Is he/she lethargic/fatigued most of the time?
- Does he/she have difficulty concentrating?
- Does he/she have unexplained aches and pains?
- Does he/she have thoughts of death or suicide?
Depression is a major psychological disorder and it is very important to get professional help.
If the answer to several of the above questions was “yes” then it is important to get psychological assistance as soon as possible. As well, it will be important to learn some strategies on how to deal with teenage depression. Depression is a major psychological disorder and it is very important to get professional help. Also, when you are depressed, you may feel helpless and hopeless and as though no one could possibly understand or help you, but that is the depression talking — help is available!
You might be interested in reading about: the official ICD-10 and DSM-5 depression symptoms.
The RADS-2 Teenage Depression Test
…a good test, but there’s no substitute for actually having a professional sit down with the individual adolescent and actually talk to them.
The most common teenage depression test that therapists use to diagnose depression is the RADS-2, which stands for Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale, Version 2. Osman et al. (2010) state that that the RADS-2 score provides a reliable interpretation of how severe depression is, but also point out that the RADS-2 manual recommends an interview-based process to ensure reliability and validity of the report. In other words, the test is a good test, but there’s no substitute for actually having a professional sit down with the individual adolescent and actually talk to them.
The RADS-2 is an official psychological test that is meant to be given and scored by qualified therapists only. For therapists: You can get the RADS-2 Test here. (Sneak peek at the test — it is copyrighted, but it seems someone put it online — this might disappear at any time: The RADS-2. It really is important to get this test administered by a professional because you may not fully understand what the different scores in different areas may mean, but it is interesting to have some idea what the test looks like.
How to deal with teenage depression: how to respond to a depressed teenager
Take suicidal threats or ideation very seriously.
Take suicidal threats or ideation very seriously. Even if you suspect your teen is just being melodramatic, it is very important to take this seriously. Some potential warning signs that yout teen may be suicidal:
- He/she jokes about suicide or says he/she would be better off dead.
- He/she makes cryptic comments about not being around.
- Writing stories or poems about death and dying.
- He/she starts giving away his/her possessions.
- He/she seeks out the means to commit suicide (pills or razor blades, etc.)
- He/she has been very unhappy but suddenly cheers up for no apparent reason. This warning sign is often missed because it seems like a relief, but often when people make the decision to end their lives, their mood lifts. So this should be very concerning.
If you suspect that your teen might be suicidal, the best thing to do is to have a quiet talk with them and ask them directly, “Have you been feeling suicidal?” Research has shown that asking this question will NOT give them the idea to commit suicide. Instead, it sends them the message that you care and that this is something you can speak openly about.
Often, parents may feel like their child has changed into a different person when he or she becomes a teenager. It is important to remember that this is both true and untrue. On the one hand, your child is on the journey towards becoming an adult, and that is a tremendous change. However, despite the anger, vitriol, rebellion, etc. that your angry teen may be hurling at you, remember the child they once were because, inside, they are still that child.
When you speak to your teen, it is important to try to listen non-judgmentally. Ask questions. Help your teen feel that he/she is really being heard by you.
Teenagers don’t usually mean to be mean to their parents…
What many parents do not realize is that when teenagers say or do horrible things, it often comes with the heat of passionate hormones that have created emotions that they have difficulty understanding or controlling. It has very little to do with how they actually feel about their parents. In other words do NOT take anything your teenager says to you personally. Hold them accountable for hateful speech, but don’t drink it into your soul.
…when parents take what teens say personally, they often get hurt and start to distance themselves from their teens. Then the teens feel isolated and like no one understands them.
This is an important point because when parents take what teens say personally, they often get hurt and start to distance themselves from their teens. Then the teens feel isolated and like no one understands them. And this can make life more difficult.
So… try not to take it personally…
It is better, as a parent, teacher, counsellor, etc. if you can try very hard not to take anything personally. Punish bad behaviour including verbal abuse, but don’t take it personally.
Read one or more books on parenting teens.
Read one or more books on parenting teens. It’s funny how, often, as parents, we read books on how to have a good pregnancy, and how to take care of our one year old, two year old… but then we stop reading by the time the teen years roll around. The teen years are a whole new ball game, and it is essential that you understand how to be a good parent to a teen, which involves a different set of skills from being a good parent to a toddler or a small child.
In addition to the best books about teenage depression, below are some recommendations for parenting books to help you deal with teens.
Suggestions for parenting books to help you deal with teens:
How to deal with teenage depression: how to treat teen depression
One could write an entire book on how to treat teen depression. Seeking proper psychological assistance is a very important part of how to help a teen with depression. However, there are some basic strategies that can help treat depression in teens as well as adults:
- Sunlight – sunlight (or a sunlight lamp) can increase vitamin D levels and cause a decrease in teen depression symptoms.
- “Sleep hygiene” – This means going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning. It can be challenging when a person is depressed, but doing this has been shown to reduce feelings of depression.
- Regular exercise – Some studies have shown that regular exercise, combined with a nutritious diet program, for at least 30 minutes five times per week for ten weeks can be as efficient as talk therapy or anti-depressant medication. If the teenager is willing to try this strategy, this can be a way to treat the depression even if you don’t really know how to deal with teenage depression.
- Eating nutritiously – Following the USDA’s nutritional guidelines or the Canada food guide and ensuring that one is eating a balanced diet and getting adequate nutrients is essential to good mental health. In particular making sure that one is eating regularly, eating healthy (non-junk) foods, not eating to excess, and getting all the food groups are important. You can help your teen with this by preparing nutritious and delicious meals and snacks.
- Get your doctor to check for vitamin deficiencies such as B12 deficiency (as this can cause teen depression symptoms).
- Get your doctor to check your thyroid as being hypothyroid can also cause teen depression symptoms.
In addition to the above, here is some more information about how to deal with teenage depression:
- teens, like adults, should maintain a balance between activities that are “work” and those that are “fun”
- they could find a creative outlet: art, writing, music, dance, etc.
- socialization is important, preferably in person, with trusted individuals. It is important to avoid social isolation. You can make time for your teen. Watch a movie together, go to a sporting event, or do whatever the two of you enjoy doing. Remind your teen how much you love and value them.
- see a doctor, psychologist, counsellor, psychiatrist, pastor, or therapist to work on any issues that may have triggered the depression. It is important that the teen does not see this as a punishment or as meaning that they are “crazy” or “unmanageable”.
Also, reading about things that work for adult depression can help you figure out how to help a teen with depression. Click here for a detailed article describing depression as well as a depression treatment plan.
A depression workbook for teens:
Additionally, your doctor may prescribe medication to help with depression recovery. Current evidence suggests that medication is most effective for people who suffer from the most severe levels of depression.
While this page offers a preliminary teenage depression test, and some advice on how to deal with teenage depression, it is important to seek the advice of a medical professional.
Teen depression symptoms are not to be taken lightly or ignored even if it might be upsetting to acknowledge. While this page offers a preliminary teenage depression test, and some advice on how to deal with teenage depression, it is important to seek the advice of a medical professional. It may feel overwhelming, but once you have some idea how to deal with teenage depression, things can improve.
How many teens suffer from teenage depression? A lot. Teenage depression statistics reveal that the rate of teen depression in the USA is extremely high at 12.5% compared to the rate of adult depression of 6.7%. It has been on the rise since 2004. For teenage girls, the depression rate is an astonishing 19.5%! There are some basic questions you can ask as a preliminary teenage depression test. The official teenage depression test most often used by counsellors is called the RADS-2.
If you suspect that someone you know might be depressed, and in particular, suicidal, please take this very seriously. Here are some resources you can use right away:
This article offers some advice on books about parenting teens. It also offers some basic advice on how to help a teen with depression — in particular, mild to moderate depression in teens — this can be summed up as: fresh air, sunlight, exercise, regular sleep, and eating right. While this may sound simplistic, a lot of research actually backs it up. For mild to moderate depression, taking these steps alone may be as effective as talk therapy and/or medication. However, there is no substitute for medical advice on how to deal with teenage depression. In your teen’s case, medication may be more appropriate, and it is important to get your teen the help they need!
Remember to take any and all threats of suicide seriously always!
Krefetz, D. G., Steer, R. A., Gulab, N. A., & Beck, A. T. (2002). Convergent Validity of the Beck Depression Inventory-II With the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale in Psychiatric Inpatients. Journal Of Personality Assessment, 78(3), 451-460.
Osman, A., Gutierrez, P. M., Bagge, C. L., Fang, Q., & Emmerich, A. (2010). Reynolds adolescent depression scale-second edition: a reliable and useful instrument. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 66(12), 1324-1345. doi:10.1002/jclp.20727
Mojtabai, R., Olfson, M., & Han, B. (2016). National Trends in the Prevalence and Treatment of Depression in Adolescents and Young Adults. Pediatrics, 138(6), 9.