If your child is between ages 12 and 18, ask the doctor about screening (checking) for depression – even if you don't see signs of a problem.
Why do I need to get my teen screened for depression?
More than 1 in 10 teens show some signs of depression. Depression can be serious, and most teens with depression don’t get the help they need.
The good news is that depression can be treated with counseling or medicine. When you ask the doctor about screening for depression, find out what services are available (like therapy or counseling) in case your teen needs follow-up care.
What is depression?
Teen depression can be a serious mental health problem. If your child is depressed, she may:
- Feel sad or irritable (easily upset) most of the time
- Lose interest in favorite activities
- Have aches and pains for no reason
- Sleep too much or be unable to sleep
- Eat too much or have trouble eating
- Use drugs or alcohol
- Think about death or suicide
It’s normal for teens to have mood swings, and it can be hard to tell if your child is just feeling down or if she’s depressed. That’s why it’s so important for all teens to be screened for depression.
Learn more about depression in teens:
What causes depression?
Depression can happen to anyone. It’s not your fault or your teen’s fault. Some experiences may make it more likely that a teen will develop depression, like:
- Dealing with a big loss, like a death or divorce in the family
- Living with someone who is depressed
- Having another mental health problem, like anxiety or an eating disorder
- Feeling stressed at school or at home
- Having a family history of depression
Teen girls are more likely to get depressed than teen boys.
What happens during a depression screening?
The doctor will ask your teen questions about his feelings and behaviors. This may include asking how often your teen:
- Feels hopeless or sad
- Has low energy or feels tired during the day
- Has trouble paying attention at school
- Eats too much or has trouble eating
Screening for depression usually takes about 5 minutes. It can be done as part of your teen’s yearly checkup.
What if the doctor finds signs of depression?
If your child is showing signs of depression, the doctor will:
- Refer your teen to a therapist or doctor with special training in helping young people with emotional or behavioral problems
- Talk about medicines or other treatments that could help your teen with depression
- Order tests to check for other health problems
Make sure to include your teen when you make any decisions about treatment.