Teen Depression

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Understanding Depression Slideshow

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What are complications of teen depression?

Teen depression is a risk factor for developing a number of other mental-health symptoms and disorders. Teens with depression are more likely to engage in self-mutilation. That the number of teens who engage in that behavior is increasing is thought to be partially due to its being promoted by trends in music and media, including social media that features self-mutilating behaviors. Adolescents with depression are also at risk of having poor school performance, early pregnancy, and engaging in alcohol and other drug abuse. As adults, people who suffered from depression during adolescence are at risk for job disruptions, as well as family and other social upheaval during adulthood.

What is the prognosis of teen depression?

Depression can be quite chronic, in that 85% of people who have one episode of the illness will have another one within 15 years of the first episode. A bit over 50% of teens who are part of research studies on depression treatment significantly improve. About 12% will relapse in the first year, and about 60% of teens who suffer from clinical depression will suffer with a recurrence of it during adulthood. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States in people over 5 years of age.

Adolescent depression is associated with a number of potentially negative outcomes, including problems at school, work, in their relationships, and with drugs. Certainly the worst potential outcome of depression, suicide is the third leading cause of death in teens.

Is it possible to prevent teen depression?

Attempts at prevention of teen depression tends to address both specific and nonspecific risk factors, strengthen protective factors, and use an approach that is appropriate for the teen's developmental level. Such programs often use cognitive behavioral and/or interpersonal approaches, as well as family based prevention strategies because research shows that these interventions are the most helpful.

The inverse of most risk factors, protective factors for teen depression include having the involvement of supportive adults, strong family and peer relationships, healthy coping skills, and skills in emotion regulation. Children and adolescents of a depressed parent tend to be more resilient when the teen is more able to focus on age-appropriate tasks in their lives and on their relationships, as well as being able to understand their parents' illness. For depressed parents, their children seem to be more protected from developing the illness when the parent is able to demonstrate a commitment to parenting and to relationships.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/11/2015

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