Depression in Children and Adolescents

What is Depression?

Depression is feeling sad, hopeless, and/or inadequate.  In children and adolescents, these feelings may be accompanied by disruptions in behavior.  Depression is widespread but can be unique to the individual.  Genetics are involved to an extent, but environmental factors can also increase the risk or provoke the onset of depression.

Common Causes of Depression in Adolescents:

Stress can often be a huge trigger for depression in adolescents.  Children can become depressed when they feel peer pressure from their classmates, or experience a disturbing event.  The development of relationships, romantic and platonic, can also cause susceptibility to depression in adolescents.  Fear of failure or divorce/separation of parents also triggers feelings of depression.

Warning Signs:

Disrupted sleep patterns Cranky or “out of sorts”
Solitude or rebellion Negative personal feelings or speech
Sad thoughts of death or suicide Signs of self-harm
Suddenly leading a new lifestyle Aches and pains
Loss of appetite Overwhelming feelings of guilt or shame


Checklist for Adolescent Depression

During the past week:

I do some things slowly.

My future seems hopeless.

It is hard for me to concentrate on reading.

I no longer find joy in life.

I have difficulty making decisions.

I have lost interest in the things I used to enjoy.

I feel sad or unhappy.

I am agitated, restless, or irritable.

I feel tired a lot of the time.

It takes much effort for me to do simple things.

I feel that I deserve to be punished.

I feel like a failure.

I feel lifeless – more dead than alive.

I sleep too little, too much, or have broken sleep.

I spend time thinking about ending my life.

I feel depressed even when good things happen to me.

Without trying to diet, I have lost or gained weight.


If you or someone you love is experiencing depression, call Genesis Counseling Center at 757-827-7707 to schedule a diagnostic interview and create a treatment plan.

Other helpful tips:

  • Seek help.  A mental health professional is necessary to determine the severity of depression and coordinate ways to help.  See a professional counselor or psychiatrist.
  • If you are a parent, be cautious of making assumptions that you know what is really going on with your child.
  • Open the lines of communication by talking with your child.
  • Try to learn where the problem lies:  explore your child’s experiences with school pressure, too many extracurricular activities, and friends.
  • Make yourself available, even if it is difficult or inconvenient.
  • Show support by listening and offer your child physical affection.
  • Read a book on teens, take a workshop, or make an appointment to consult with a therapist for youth at Genesis Counseling Center.


Additional Resources

Mental Health America: Depression

National Institute for Mental Health: Depression

National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255

Teenage Suicide Fact Sheet

Researched and written by LaKeisha Jones

Edited 2017 by Sarah Warner, MS