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Symptoms of Depression

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What Are the Symptoms of Depression in Teens?

It is common for teens to occasionally feel unhappy. However, when the unhappiness lasts for more than two weeks, and the teen experiences other symptoms of clinical depression, then he or she may be suffering from adolescent depression.

It is estimated that depression affects as many as one in every 33 children and one in eight adolescents. If you believe your teenager is suffering from depression, you should seek help from a qualified health care professional.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Depression Symptoms in Teens.

How Is Depression Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of depression often begins with a thorough history and physical exam by a doctor. Because certain viruses, medicines, and illnesses can also cause symptoms of depression, your doctor will want to know when your symptoms started, how long they have lasted, and how severe they are. He or she will ask whether you have had similar symptoms of depression before and about past treatments you may have received.

Your family history of depression and other mental illnesses is very important, as is any history of drug or alcohol use. Although there is no "depression test" that a mental health expert can use to diagnose symptoms of depression, there are certain features, which he or she will look for in order to make the proper diagnosis of depression.

How Are Symptoms of Depression Treated?

If a physical cause for the symptoms of depression is ruled out, your doctor may begin an initial treatment himself or herself, or else refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional for further evaluation and treatment. This mental health specialist will determine the best course of treatment. That treatment may include medicines (such as antidepressants), psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

Is Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) Used to Treat Symptoms of Depression?

Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT is a viable treatment option for patients with symptoms of depression who do not improve with medicines for depression or who suffer from extremely severe forms of depression. ECT is specially viable when symptoms involving suicidal behavior or psychosis are severe and require urgent treatment. 

When Should I Seek Help for Symptoms of Depression?

If symptoms of depression are negatively affecting your life -- such as causing difficulties with relationships or work issues or causing family disputes -- and there isn't a clear solution to these problems, then you should seek help. Talking with a mental health counselor or health care professional can help prevent things from getting worse, especially if these symptoms of depression persist for any length of time.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts or feelings, you must seek help immediately.

In addition, it's important to understand that feeling depressed does not mean you have a depressive illness. Depression as a medical illness involves not only changes in mood, such as persistent sadness or feeling down or blue, but also changes in sleep, energy, appetite, concentration, and motivation.   If you have physical symptoms such as these and  find  yourself feeling depressed much of the time for days or weeks on end, seek medical help.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on August 21, 2014
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