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Helping Your Teen Cope with Depression

For anyone going through depression, especially a teen, it can feel lonely and suffocating. However, the truth is that teens going through depression are not alone. In fact, they are in good company. According to recent data, over 13 percent of teens in the United States between 13 and 24 have experienced a major depressive episode. At some age levels, it was more than 18 percent. And, those are only the ones that reporting their depression. 

Learn more about depression in teens and what it can feel like for a teen coping with a major depressive episode. 

Causes of Teen Depression

According to the Mayo Clinic, the causes of teen depression are mostly unknown, but it may involve several factories including,


Depression is more common in teens who have a family history of depression. 

Brain Chemistry

When neurotransmitters (your brain’s messengers) are abnormal or impaired, nerve receptors and systems change, leading to depression.


Teens are going through hormonal changes, and as hormones change, they may become imbalanced, triggering depression. 

Childhood trauma

Many teens who experience depression have endured a traumatic event, such as abuse, loss of a parent, or negligence. These events may cause changes in the brain, increasing the risk of depression. 

Patterns of negative thinking

Depressed teens report patterns of helpless thinking and victim mentality instead of learning the coping skills to face the challenges of adolescence head-on. 

Risk Factors of Teen Depression

Additionally, there are risk factors that may increase a teen’s risk for depression. They include, 

  • Negative self-esteem
  • Witnessing violent acts, such as physical or sexual abuse
  • Being the victim of violent acts, such as physical or sexual abuse
  • Experiencing other mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, a personality disorder, anorexia, or bulimia
  • Having a learning disability 
  • Chronic illness
  • Substance abuse 
  • Being LGBTQA in an unsupportive environment

Treating Teen Depression

Identifying depression in teens is challenging because many symptoms of depression in teens overlap with normal teen behavior. However, when your teen loses interest in activities that once brought them joy or if they seem incapable of handling challenging emotions, it’s time to seek help. 

If your teen begins to have suicidal ideations or threatens suicide, seek emergency medical care immediately. Call a mental health professional or the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) or use its webchat on suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat. Never ignore comments about suicide, even if said jokingly. 

To find a therapist, you can use the Psychology Today search tool

Your teen can defeat the inner voice of depression.  They can learn how to manage everything life sends their way. They can learn to communicate better with family and improve their relationships. They can heal. 

Embark is the most trusted name in teen and young adult mental health treatment. We’re driven to find the help your family needs. If you’re looking for support, contact us today!

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Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health

Embark Behavioral Health is a leading network of outpatient centers and residential programs offering premier mental health treatment for preteens, teens, and young adults. Dedicated to its big mission of reversing the trends of teen and young adult anxiety, depression, and suicide by 2028, Embark offers a robust continuum of care with different levels of service and programming; has a deep legacy of over 25 years serving youths; works with families to adjust treatment in real time to improve results; treats the entire family using an evidence-supported approach; and offers the highest levels of quality care and safety standards. For more information about Embark or its treatment programs, including virtual services, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), therapeutic day treatment programs, also known as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), residential treatment, and outdoor therapy, visit embarkbh.com.