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Supporting teens with low mood and depression

The teenage years can be confusing and challenging. Changes to their bodies and brains can result in quick or confusing mood changes. They may swing from feeling over the moon to down in the dumps, for no apparent reason. And this is perfectly normal. But if your child seems to be consistently down, and if this low mood is affecting their daily life and stopping them doing the things they used to enjoy, this could be a sign of depression.

Low mood and depression can be triggered by life events and challenges, but sometimes it won’t have an obvious cause at all.

Having your child diagnosed as depressed can be very difficult for parents. But the important thing to remember is that lots of young people go through periods of low mood or depression and, with the right approach, love and support, they come out the other side. 

When to be concerned about depression

It can be hard to tell the difference between symptoms of depression and normal teenage emotions. However, it could be a sign of something more significant if:

  • your teen’s feelings of sadness, tearfulness, worry or anger don’t seem to go away, and
  • these feelings are stopping them getting on with their day-to-day life for a number of weeks, and
  • there are changes to their sleep and appetite.
Sad teen girl looking at her mobile phone

Sad teen girl looking at her mobile phone

Here are some signs to look out for:

  • becoming very withdrawn from family and friends and not wanting to go out or see people
  • finding it hard to concentrate, and/or losing interest in activities
  • not wanting to do things they used to enjoy
  • feeling irritable, angry or frustrated
  • feeling tearful, miserable, lonely or hopeless
  • feeling empty or numb
  • feeling less confident, or being very hard on themselves
  • sleeping more or less than usual
  • eating more or less than usual
  • feeling tired or lacking in energy
  • having no motivation
  • not looking after themselves properly (for example, not washing or cleaning their clothes)
  • starting to self-harm
  • experiencing suicidal thoughts.

If your teen is experiencing one of more of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re depressed. But it’s definitely a good idea to talk to them about it, particularly if the symptoms don’t seem to be going away.

What to do if your teen seems depressed

Last updated: 8 Jan, 2024