If your child is between ages 12 and 18, talk to a doctor about screening (testing) for depression. More than 1 in 10 teens have some signs of depression.
Depression is serious, but it can be treated with counseling or medicine. Most teens with depression don’t get the help they need.
Talk to your teen’s doctor about screening for depression, even if you don’t see signs of a problem. Find out what services are available (like therapy or counseling), in case your teen needs follow-up care.
What happens during a depression screening?
The doctor will ask your teen questions about her feelings and behaviors. The doctor may ask her how often she:
- 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 is depression?
Teen depression is a serious mental health problem. If your child is depressed, he 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. It can be hard to tell if your child is just feeling down or if he’s depressed – that’s why it’s so important to have your teen 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 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 and behavioral problems
- Talk about medicines or treatments that could help your teen with depression.
- Order blood tests to check for other health problems
Make sure to include your teen when you make any decisions about treatment.