Adolescent depression is a disorder occurring during the teenage years marked by persistent sadness, discouragement, loss of self-worth and loss of interest in usual activities.
Depression can be a temporary response to many situations and stresses. In adolescents, depressed mood is common because of the normal maturation process, the stress associated with it, the influence of sex hormones and independence conflicts with parents.
It may also be a reaction to a disturbing event, such as the death of a friend or relative, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend or failure at school. Adolescents who have low self-esteem, are highly self-critical and who feel little sense of control over negative events are particularly at risk to become depressed when they experience stressful events.
True depression in teens is often difficult to diagnose because normal adolescent behavior is marked by both up and down moods. These moods may alternate over a period of hours or days.
Persistent depressed mood, faltering school performance, failing relations with family and friends, substance abuse and other negative behaviors may indicate a serious depressive episode. These symptoms may be easy to recognize, but depression in adolescents often starts very differently than these classic symptoms.
Excessive sleeping, change in eating habits, even criminal behavior (like shoplifting) may be signs of depression. Another common symptom of adolescent depression is an obsession with death, which may take the form either of suicidal thoughts or of fears about death and dying.
Information provided by the National Institutes of Health.