Adolescent Depression

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Adolescent Depression Treatment in Orange County, CA

Depression in adolescents is more common than people believe. Due to developmental changes in the teenage years, it can be more common among adolescents than adults.

Most young people will experience challenges related to their changing bodies, new social relationships, and educational challenges. However, young people at risk for adolescent depression may have more difficulty coping with these changes and become easily isolated.

According to the National Child Health Survey, more than 3.8 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This proportion was 15.7% of the population aged 12 to 17 in the United States. The incidence of depressive episodes was greater among adolescent females (23.0%) than males (8.8%).

Factors Causing Depression In Adolescents

Many factors can contribute to the development of depression in adolescents, such as:

Hormonal changes are believed to contribute to mood disturbances in young people.

Studies show that adolescents with major depression had abnormal serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels compared with the control group. These neurotransmitters play a role in the regulation of moods and emotions. Decreases in brain volume have also been associated with adolescent depression.

Adolescent depression is commonly found among family members of people who suffer from the disorder. If a parent has experienced a mood disorder such as major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, there is a 10% chance that the child will inherit this disorder.

Studies have shown that teenagers who engage in early sexual behavior often experience higher levels of stress, leading to increased depression. Additionally, adolescents who become sexually active at a young age are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use, leading to depression.

An unsupportive social network can increase stress for teenagers if they do not have adequate support. Studies show that lack of social support is often associated with increased depression. Teenagers who are isolated from friends and family may be more likely to develop depressive symptoms.

Those who experience bullying or peer victimization are at an increased risk of developing depression.

Sexual or physical abuse can significantly impact a teenager's mental health. If the abused person is unable to seek help, they may develop depression due to these experiences.

Teenage unemployment has been associated with increased depressive symptoms. Studies have shown that unemployed teens are at an increased risk of developing depression.

Many factors can contribute to the development of depression in adolescents, such as:

If you are concerned that your teen may be suffering from adolescent depression, look for the following warning signs.

If your teen is showing changes in their eating habits, such as skipping meals or replacing breakfast with unhealthy snacks, they may be acting due to depressive symptoms.

If your teen is spending less time with friends and family or seems distant from those around them, they may be suffering from depression.

If your teen has been acting out due to depression, they may experience an overall decline in school attendance and performance. 

If you notice your teen actively avoiding getting dressed or grooming when they used to take pride in their appearance, it may be a sign of depression.

How To Diagnose Depression in Adolescents

If you suspect that your teen is suffering from depression, it is important to consult a doctor as soon as possible. Your physician can perform several different tests and examinations to determine whether or not your child is suffering from adolescent depression.

An adolescent may need to meet with a psychiatrist for additional evaluation in some instances. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the standard reference mental health providers use to diagnose depressive disorders.

Physical Exam

A doctor may perform a physical exam to determine if any medical conditions could be causing your teen’s depressive symptoms.

Psychiatric Evaluation

This involves meeting with a psychiatrist or psychologist who can provide more information on the severity of the depressive symptoms. A psychiatrist can provide additional evaluation for your teen.

Questions a psychiatrist may ask include:

Psychological Evaluation

A mental health professional may perform personality testing to understand how depression impacts your teen. Personality tests can help a mental health professional determine if the teen has a pessimistic outlook, feels guilty or worthless, and lacks focus.

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Treating Depression In Adolescents

If your teen has been diagnosed with adolescent depression, there are several ways to be treated. The kind of treatment that will be recommended will depend on the severity of your teen’s condition.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants are the most commonly recommended medications for treating adolescent depression.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, helps people learn to identify and correct negative thought patterns and can also help alleviate depressive symptoms in teens.

Stress Management

It is important to teach your teen stress management techniques that they can use throughout their life. Stress has been shown to contribute to depression. So your teen needs to learn healthy ways to deal with the stress in their life.

Psychoeducation Group Sessions

A psychoeducation group session is beneficial for teens because it allows them to interact with other adolescents who are experiencing depression.

Depression in adolescents is a serious condition that must be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. If you notice changes in your teen’s mood, it’s important to see a mental health professional so they can be evaluated for depression.

Enhance Health Group Helps Adolescents Fight Depression For a Better Life

Adolescence is a trying and challenging time in life that can often be associated with symptoms of depression.  To treat depression in adolescents, medication, therapy, and group sessions can be used to help relieve depression symptoms.

At Enhance Health Group, we specialize in providing quality mental health services to help adolescents with depression lead healthy, productive lives. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, contact us today for a consultation in Orange County.