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Every young person is faced with countless challenges during adolescence.

Teenagers are forced to navigate difficult life lessons, all while experiencing surging hormones, physical changes, complex emotional situations, sometimes enduring paralyzing internal and external pressures. Although difficult, adolescence is a period for self-discovery as teenagers yearn for autonomy while maturing into adulthood. It is normal for young people to experience strong emotions, both positive and negative. Learning ample tools to help effectively process and integrate a wide variety of situations, emotions, and experiences is essential. It is normal for young people to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and upset, at times, but when those emotions become debilitating, he or they may be struggling with more than just typical teenage angst and may benefit from expert support.

What Is Teenage Depression?

Depression, clinically referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), and is characterized by persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities. The symptoms of depression can vary from mild to severe. Some common symptoms of teen depression can include the following examples, provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Irritable
  • Hopelessness
  • Crying spells
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Irrational feelings of anger and/ or frustration
  • Conflict with family and friends and/ or social isolation
  • Seeks excessive external validation and reassurance
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Compromised memory 
  • Decision making difficulty
  • Loss of energy
  • Sleep disturbances (e.g., insomnia, sleeping too much)
  • Substance abuse
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Changes in appetite
  • Random body aches and pains
  • Lacks personal hygiene
  • Self-harming behavior (e.g., burning, cutting, excessive piercing, etc.)
  • Suicidal ideation

The combination and severity of symptoms that manifest will be specific and unique to each adolescent. Teenage depression will affect how a young person thinks, feels, and behaves. Findings from the National Institute of Mental Health in 2017, report nearly 3.2 million adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17 had experienced at least one major depressive episode. If left untreated it can result in long-lasting emotional, functional, and physical consequences.


Obtaining an accurate diagnosis (concluded with results from a medical exam with blood work, and psychological evaluation) is essential to the recovery process for any mental health illness, including depression. There is no single treatment plan that is entirely effective for every teenager that struggles with depression, as each teen is unique. Quality treatment centers will develop tailored treatment plans that include a multidisciplinary approach. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) underscores common components that may make up one’s treatment plan for MDD, which typically include a variety of psychotherapeutic approaches and medication. Some of the common therapeutic modalities incorporated into a teenager’s treatment plan for depression could include one or more of the following: cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, family therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), and mind-body activities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the two medications that can be used for the treatment of teenage depression, which include Lexapro (generically: escitalopram) and Prozac (generically: fluoxetine). The treatment plan for teen depression will consider the nuanced mental health needs of the individual teenager and will be customized accordingly. Further, the specifics of a teen’s treatment plan will depend on the severity of his or her symptoms. In most cases integrating a combination of both psychotherapy and medication into one’s treatment plan yields the most successful long-term results.

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At {Upwell Advisors}, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at [email protected] We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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