Being sad and having a low mood occasionally is part of every teenager’s life. However, teenagers with depression appear persistently sad and moody. Teenagers with depression often complain of being bored and appear to have low energy. They feel worthless useless or guilty.

Teenagers which show the following signs that last longer than 2 weeks should seek an appointment with their health care team, either their GP, a Counsellor or Psychologist:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Eats a lot more or a lot less than normal
  • Has a hard time paying attention
  • Showing self-injury and self-destructive behaviour
  • Report frequent health issues such as headaches or stomach aches
  • No interest for daily activities or hobbies
  • No energy and always tired
  • Feelings of anger and frustration

Depression can interfere with a teenager’s academic performance. It can cause difficulty concentrating and a lack of motivation. It can lead to increased absences from school. Many teenagers with depression have problems fitting in at school or getting along with other their peers. They often isolate themselves from peers and their family which can cause their depression to get even worse. Depression in teenagers can see them engage in risk-taking behaviours such as unprotected sex or drug and alcohol abuse.


If the depression is severe you should take your teenager to a counsellor or Psychologist for treatment. Sometimes a teenager may be referred to a psychiatrist. If your teenager refuses to attend the appointments, you should still attend the appointments to gain knowledge and support on how you can help your teenager. Medicating is always a concern but, in some cases, medication combined with therapy is more beneficial than therapy alone. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for teenagers with depression. A mental health professional can develop a therapy plan that works best for the teenager and family.

As teenagers are more accountable and aware of their behaviour, you as the parent may not be part of the treatment sessions, your respect to their privacy is paramount. Although extremely difficult for parents, let your teenager share therapy sessions with you when they are ready.  Your support and respect will be a great benefit to your teenager. 

Parents can also do the following activities to help their child:

  • Eating healthy and cooking nutritious meals for your teenager is important and in addition to getting the right treatment leading a healthy lifestyle can play a major role
  • Help your teenager learn relaxation strategies such as deep breathing and mindfulness
  • Join your teenager in doing physical activity such as going for a walk together
  • Encourage your teenager to talk about their feelings. Be supportive of them so that they will feel comfortable in confiding in you

Questions for Health Care Team:

  • What do I look for?
  • What is my teenager’s treatment options?
  • What side effects can my teenager expect from taking medication?
  • How can I help my teenager in their day to day activities?
  • Will the parents be involved in therapy?
  • How soon should we expect improvement?

It is really difficult to see you teenager feeling sad and upset for a long time. It can affect other family members as well. It is important for parents to look after their own health and well-being. Parents should reach out and seek help from a counsellor or doctor to talk it through.

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Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter
and those who matter don’t mind”
- Dr. Seuss

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Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].