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  • Marianne Breadner

Depression And Teenagers

Often youth have periods of feeling down and they, or their parents, may question if they are depressed. It is normal for teens to have their “blue” periods but depression is more pervasive and lasts for at least 3 or 4 weeks without a break. Youth may find it hard to enjoy normal activities, attend school, and may feel numb or apathetic. Depression often first surfaces during adolescence due hormonal changes and maturation of the brain. Depression and anxiety may both be present and if there is a family history of either, this may make a teen more genetically predisposed as well.

Diagnosis of clinical depression can be sought through your family doctor. It is important to remember that depression is not necessarily chronic and treatment can be effective. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be highly successful in dealing with depression and anxiety. CBT focuses on changing thoughts that then change feelings and behaviours. There are tools and even some apps that can help teens use CBT to deal with their depression. Once youth have developed strategies to cope with their depression they feel more competent and in charge of their emotions.


In some cases medication may be needed with depression and it is important to deal with a doctor that feels competent dealing with this in teens. If there is concern of suicidal thinking or self harm it is crucial to seek a medical assessment as soon as possible…often the emergency department is a good choice as they have linkages to medical resources and crisis services. It is important to remember that depression is treatable and can be dealt with using the proper resources.

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