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Published: July 13, 2017
Eric Mason

Depression in Adolescence

Depression in Adolescence



Psychological development of depression

Pre school children- depression rare

Age 6-8- May feel sad without “cognitive reasons”


Child “intuits” feelings and cannot give

Reasons for them.

Persistent negative moods rare


Adolescence – mentally more developed and the adolescent will seek a “cause” for unhappy and negative feelings and moods.  The negative feelings may affect self-esteem and feelings of self worth.


Adolescence is also a time of change in how the person obtains positive feelings.  During this stage of development, the youth is forced to obtain self esteem and meaning from (peer) relationships and activities that are outside the family.


This transition is rarely a smooth one.

Adolescents are faced with self worth being based on new criteria, and they have little experience in how to project success and failure.  Hence, overreaction to events is frequent.  S/he may be overly elated at a success and overly upset over a bad grade, relationship or event on a ball field.


Overreactions are common, which is one reason suicide is a higher risk for this group.

A social rebuff is a catastrophe

A bad grade means that you won’t get into college.



Signs of depression in Adolescence


Low self esteem and guilt

Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, giving up easily on tasks

Difficulty with relationships


Social Isolation


Frequent complaints of such things as headaches, stomachaches.

Poor concentration

Persistent boredom, low energy










More significant signs:

Frequent sadness, crying

Major change in eating or sleeping habits


Running away or efforts to run away from home


Any suicidal attempt should be taken very seriously. If it is attention seeking or a “cry for help”, if the conditions are not resolved, other attempts are likely.




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