Identifying and Treating Teen Depression

Teenage years are an especially difficult juncture of personal growth, and external stresses can make things even more challenging for teens and young adults

Teenage years are an especially difficult juncture of personal growth, and external stresses can make things even more challenging for teens and young adults. Teen depression and suicide are challenges far too many families face, and our team at NAMI San Fernando Valley is here to help empower parents, educators, and concerned members of our community to turn the tide  through comprehensive suicide prevention training.

Whether you are a parent, a loved one, or someone who is ready to make a difference, understanding the information surrounding teen suicide in the San Fernando Valley can help you understand the importance of suicide prevention training. 

Key Teen Depression in California Statistics 

Teen depression is a growing problem in California, where the statistics surrounding this often untreated mental health condition are frightening:

  • In 2017, 32% of California High School Students reported feeling sad or hopeless for 2 weeks or more [1]. 
  • The California Health Care Foundation estimates that in 2015 alone, 1 in 9 female high school students in California attempted suicide [2].
  • Nationwide, the numbers are also startling. From 2005 to 2017, the rate of adolescents reporting symptoms of major depression increased by 52% [3]. 
  • It is estimated that up to 60.1% of teens who have experienced at least one major depressive episode do not receive treatment [4].

When left untreated, whether in teens or adults, depression and its symptoms do not simply vanish. Untreated clinical depression is linked to physical health problems, increased risk of substance abuse, and increased risk of suicide. Knowing the signs of depression and knowing what to do can help change or even save a life. 

Signs of Depression in Teens

For decades, teenagers have been notorious for their moodiness and grumpy episodes. But teenage depression is more than a moody child, it is a diagnosable mental health disorder that requires professional support for effective recovery. The first step is identifying the signs and symptoms of teen depression.

Common signs of depression in teens include:

  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Increase of risk-taking behaviors
  • Sudden loss of personal hygiene care
  • A noticeable drop in school performance, such as lower grades 
  • Changed eating habits, whether eating considerably more or less than normal
  • Withdrawal from loved ones such as family members or common friend groups
  • Mood changes such as increased irritability
  • Changed sleep habits
  • Newly developed issues with concentration
  • Increased sluggishness
  • Ignoring responsibilities at school, work, or at home

These are the more common symptoms of depression in teenagers and adolescents, but there are other less common symptoms teens may exhibit. If you suspect your child, student, or friend is depressed, it’s important to reach out to them and connect them with valuable resources for treatment so they can get the help they need to address this treatable medical condition. 

How to Treat Teen Depression

Treating depression in teenagers will vary from person to person, as the mechanism of this condition will vary from one person to the next. In many situations, major depression in teenagers is caused by external factors such as instability at home, untreated learning disabilities, and substance abuse. Chemical imbalances within the brain and negative thought patterns can also cause teenage depression [5]. It is important to recognize that with the right treatment and determination, teen depression is a treatable condition.

Therapy and medication are the most effective tools in fighting teen depression. Depending on the teen’s factors of their depression, a combination of the two may be the most effective for treatment. Medication can help address the chemical imbalances within the brain that contribute to depression while therapy can help teens rework negative thought patterns or other challenges that may perpetuate depression. 

Preventing Teen Suicide 

Youth suicide rates are on the rise throughout the country [6], and untreated depression can often lead down a dark road. At NAMI San Fernando Valley, we are committed to helping empower our community to make actionable changes in the lives of children and teens.  We are proud to help save lives with our Youth Program for Suicide Prevention Training

If you are ready to help save a life, sign up today.


1- HHS - California Adolescent Mental Health Facts

2- California Health Care Foundation - 2018 Edition — Mental Health and Substance Use: A Crisis for California’s Youth

3 - American Psychological Association - Mental Health Issues Increased Significantly in Young Adults Over Last Decade

4 - National Institute of Mental Health - Major Depression 

5- Stamford Children’s Health - Understanding Teen Depression 

6- PBS - Youth Suicide Rates are On the Rise in the US



HelpLine: (818) 994-6747

email: [email protected]

Mailing Address: 11100 Sepulveda Blvd. Ste 8 PMB 392., Mission Hills, CA 91345


Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or email.

Created with NationBuilder