Child and Teen Mental Health

Teens & Depression

In Ventura County, the 2015-16 California Healthy Kids Survey reports that 1 in 3 teens in 11th grade felt "so sad or hopeless almost every day for two weeks or more that [they] stopped doing some usual activities." 

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, over 12% of teens aged 12 to 17 "had at least one major depressive episode" in the previous year.

Concerned about your teen? Learn the signs. And listen.

There are many reasons teens could seem depressed, from bullying to drug abuse to schoolwork being stressful. It's normal for teens to have ups and downs in mood due to hormones and life changes. How can you tell the difference between what's normal and problems including depression? “Pay attention to worry signs." But keep in mind, "what parents should do is mostly listen, that should be 90 percent of the conversation," says Dr. Benjamin Shain, head of the child at adolescent psychiatry division at NorthShore University Health System in a recent New York Times article.

Tips for listening:

  • Ask open ended questions
  • It may be easier to talk and listen while driving or running an errand
  • Don't lecture or judge
  • Make time to talk regularly

Signs of Teen Depression

  • Persistent sadness or negative mood
  • Not coping with daily activities
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating
  • Complaining more than usual about physical problems
  • Trouble concentrating​

If symptoms seem serious and are affecting everyday life, it's time to reach out for help. Start with your healthcare provider. See additional resources on this page and the links below.

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Sources: "Is a Teen Depressed, or Just Moody?", New York Times, Feb. 13, 2017
California Healthy Kids Survey, Ventura County Office of Education