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This content is from an educational collaboration between WebMD Editorial and

Could your teen be depressed? Although we are learning more about depression, it's hard to know if a teen is depressed -- irritability and moodiness tend to be features of normal adolescence.

What is teen depression?

Depression is a medical condition that causes psychological and physical symptoms. Depression can happen at any age, including the teen years.

About 1 in 5 teens has suffered with depression at some point. But many depressed teens do not get the right treatment. When teen depression goes untreated, the outcome may be serious, and result in:

  • Poor performance at school
  • Troubled relationships
  • Increased rates of substance abuse
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Increased rates of physical illness
  • Increased rates of suicide attempts and completions

What are the symptoms of teen depression?

The most common symptom of depression is sadness for no apparent reason most of time. Yet, teens with depression may have signs of extreme irritability, exaggerated reactions, anger, or anxiety instead.

Depressed teens often have physical complaints, such as stomachaches or headaches. These symptoms may cause absences from school or poor school performance.

Teens with depression may have changes in sleep habits with unexplained crying. They may become extremely sensitive to rejection or failure. Other symptoms may include:

  • Feeling helpless
  • Anger
  • Withdrawal from activities
  • Avoidance of peers
  • Apathy
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Slow or rapid movement
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Substance abuse
  • Difficulty with authority
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

How is teen depression diagnosed?

A depression diagnosis is based on the symptoms and the duration of symptoms. Also, the doctor will consider how the symptoms impact the teen's behavior and life.

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