Teens, Kids, and Depression

July, 2008

Depression is real and can affect anyone

  • 7-14% of kids in this country have been depressed before the age of 15.
  • Lots of teen and kids with depression (60-80%) do not get the help they need. 
  • Up to 20% of teenagers can experience depression at some time.
  • Girls are often affected by depression more often than boys.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression can make you feel many different ways.  It is not just about being sad.  Read the list of symptoms below to learn more.

Depression can feel like:

Problems with my Emotions
Anxiety, sadness (especially if you are sad all day everyday), feeling sad more in the morning than later in the day

Problems with wanting to do things
Loss of interest in things I usually like to do, hopeless, helpless, feeling like I would be better off dead, wanting to try drugs or drinking alcohol, wanting to hurt myself in some way

Problems with my thinking
Difficulty concentrating, worthlessness, guilt, low self-esteem, memory problems, difficulty with problem solving

Problems with what I am feeling
Isolated, easily angered or agitated, taking risks that I know are not smart, crying all the time, getting very upset if I don't do something right

Problems with my day to day life
Sleeping too much or trouble falling or staying asleep, appetite change, weight change, energy loss, feeling jumpy or agitated all the time, doing poorly in school

Problems with my body
Lots of stomachaches, headaches, or body pains

If you are feeling any of these symptoms or are afraid that you may be depressed, talk to a parent, doctor, or other trusted adult.

Some things happening in your life may make it easier for you to feel depressed

  • Death of a family member or friend
  • Stress in school or at home
  • Feeling isolated and alone a lot of the time
  • Exposure to violence
  • Feeling anxious or angry all the time
  • Physical/emotional/ sexual abuse
  • Using drugs or drinking alcohol
  • Not getting along with parents
  • Parents are not there for you, not supportive
  • Same sex sexual orientation

The good news is that depression can be treated

There are many ways to help you feel better if you are depressed.  The first step is to talk to a doctor, parent, or trusted adult, as they will help you get the help you need. 

Some ways that depression can be treated:

• Talk therapy
• Family therapy
• Therapy to help you learn how to control your feelings and actions
• Medication


Everyone has unique talents, strengths, interests, and future potential, even if you are feeling depressed, there is hope for the future.

Lean on your family or a favorite other adult (such as a teacher) for help and support.  They care about you and want to help.

Don't be afraid to reach out to friends or get involved with a new activity that you enjoy.  Being with friends and fun activities can make you feel better.

Other websites to visit

Experience Journal: Pediatric Depression

Talk Listen: A project of the Boston Public Health Commission

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I would like to thank the following for their generous support, without whom this web site and training program would not exist: The Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation, The Alden Trust, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Project INTERFACE (Newton Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Education), the Locke Educational Fund at Newton- Wellesley Hospital, Aetna Health Plan, the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center,  and the families of my medical practice. 

I hope you find this site useful and encourage any comments.

- Dr. Howard King, M.D.