Adult vs. Teenage Depression Facts: How Different Are the Signs?

Both adults and teenagers are susceptible to depression.

Even though there are similarities between the two, there are also distinct differences.

Knowing teenage depression facts can help you, as a parent, better understand how depression may affect your teen.

Adult vs. Teenage Depression Facts: Similarities

First, let’s look at the similarities between depression in adults in teens.

This includes, for example:

  • Feeling sad or empty inside
  • Irritability
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling guilty
  • Believing that you are worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide and death
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Difficulty sleeping

These are important signs to recognize, regardless whether or not it is an adult or teenager who is suffering from depression. Remember, if you are worried that someone you know is in immediate danger, get help quickly.

Adult vs. Teenage Depression Facts: Differences

Changes in Behavior

One way that teenagers differ from adults when it comes to depression is their behavior.

That may involve:

  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Claiming they are sick
  • Behavior issues at school/getting into trouble
  • Having a negative attitude

It’s important to note whether or not you are seeing changes in your child’s behavior. This is especially true if they used to be more motivated at school and had a more positive perspective.

Sometimes it is hard to notice the changes until you take a step back and get a bigger perspective.

Reasons for Depression

Another difference between adults and teens is why teens experience depression. Teenagers have many stressors in their lives that can be a depression source.

For example:

  • School/academics – Experiencing pressure to perform and get good grades, either from themselves or parents.
  • Bullying – Being picked on or harassed by other students.
  • Peer pressure – Feeling that they need to look or act a certain way in order to be accepted.

Although experiencing pressure and not being socially accepted are issues faced by adults, they manifest themselves much differently in teens.

Parental Divorce and Life Changes

Another way that teens are susceptible to depression is due to divorce. When parents separate, it creates a dramatic and usually unwelcome change in the lives of teenagers. All of a sudden what was once a certainty, even taken for granted, is now gone. Thus, your teen must deal with a “new normal” that they were not expecting.

Other dramatic life changes that can cause depression include developing a major illness or the death of a family member.

Hormonal Changes

Being a teenager also means experiencing hormonal fluctuations. Teenage bodies are changing from adolescence to adulthood, both physically and biochemically. This can be confusing and frustrating for teens as they deal with these changes.

Also, as they experience puberty, they may begin to compare themselves to their peers. If they don’t think that they are somehow meeting what they think is ideal, that can also be a depression source.

What Can Parents Do?

Just knowing the teenage depression facts mentioned above is a good start. What is also important is knowing your teen and having a relationship with them.

Talk with your teen, and let them know you want to understand them as a person. Support your teen by listening to them and their concerns. Avoid judging them or comparing your childhood to theirs, as everyone is different. Be conscious of how major life changes can affect our teen.

In addition, be mindful of any family history of mental illness and whether that could have an impact on your child.

Obviously, although both adults and teens experience depression, there are some differences. This short list of teenage depression facts makes it clear that teens struggle with stressors from both the outside and within. However, by having a relationship with your teen and being aware of the signs, you can better support your child if they face times of depression.

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