Teenage depression can look very different from adult depression. The following symptoms are more common in teenagers:
· Irritable or angry mood – Irritability is often the predominant mood. A depressed teenager may be grumpy, hostile, easily frustrated, or prone to angry outbursts.
· Unexplained aches and pains – Depressed teens frequently complain about physical ailments such as headaches or stomach aches.
· Extreme sensitivity to criticism – Depressed teens are plagued by feelings of worthlessness, making them extremely vulnerable to criticism, rejection, and failure. This is a particular problem for “over-achievers.”
· Withdrawing from some, but not all people – While adults tend to isolate themselves, teenagers usually keep up at least some friendships. However, teens with depression may socialize less than before, pull away from their parents, or start hanging out with a different crowd.
Teens may also “act out” in an attempt to cope with emotional pain. This is seen in:
· Problems at school. Depression can cause low energy and concentration difficulties. At school, this may lead to poor attendance, a drop in grades, or frustration with schoolwork in a formerly good student.
· Running away. Many depressed teens run away from home or talk about running away.
· Drug and alcohol abuse. Teens may use alcohol or drugs in an attempt to “self-medicate” their depression.
· Low self-esteem. Depression can trigger and intensify feelings of ugliness, shame, failure, and unworthiness.
· Internet addiction. Teens may go online to escape from their problems. But excessive computer use only increases their isolation and makes them more depressed.
· Reckless behavior. Depressed teens may engage in dangerous or high-risk behaviors, such as reckless driving, out-of-control drinking, and unsafe sex.
· Violence. Some depressed teens become violent.
Teen depression is also associated with eating disorders and self-injury.