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  • Writer's pictureLiz Morrison, LCSW

The Truth About Teen Depression: A Guide to Finding Support With Therapy for Teens

Updated: May 9

American teens are struggling. They’re dealing with a lot: fear of violence and bullying in school, policies that negatively impact them and make their school experience more difficult, social media, and horrifying global events at the tips of their fingers, to name a few.


These factors combined with normal adolescent brain development and hormonal changes can create and exacerbate mental health problems like depression. However, it’s normal for young people to go through stages of moodiness, rebellion, and behavioral changes. So how do you know if your child is dealing with teen depression and needs help, or if they’re just being a typical temperamental teen? 


By learning the signs that a teenager needs help for depression, you can understand how to best support your kid. Learning when to intervene and seek therapy for teens for your child can prevent major mental health crises and bring healing to the whole family. 

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Why Are Today’s Teens Depressed?


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, levels of US teen depression have been on the rise in recent years. Every ethnic and gender group reported higher rates of persistent sadness and hopelessness. Tragically, suicide attempts continue to creep up every year. 


Why this downturn in mental health? There are a lot of likely factors at play. Some known causes include:


  • The impact of social media on kids’ developing brains

  • Intense pressure to perform and do well academically

  • Distressing global events like politics and climate change

  • Fear of violence and bullying in school

  • Laws or school policies that threaten teen identities 

  • Trauma (such as family of origin or bullying) and collective trauma (such as the Covid pandemic)


While the reasons vary, it’s clear that today’s teens are more depressed, lonely, and anxious than in recent history.

Teen Depression Statistics


Surveys conducted in 2021 among high schoolers across the United States showed the following statistics: 

  • Nearly 90% of Gen Z youth reported struggling with mental health issues on a regular basis.

  • 25% of girls and 12% of boys made a suicide plan.

  • Suicide attempts among both Black and White students increased. 

  • 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ students attempted suicide in the last year, and around 50% of the same community reported persistent feelings of hopelessness and despair.

  • At least 20% of girls experienced sexual violence.

  • 25% of LGBTQ+ students experienced bullying at school, and nearly 30% were electronically bullied.

  • Girls, students of color, and LGBTQ+ students were least likely to feel connected and safe at school.

  • 7% of high school students were threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.

  • White students (especially girls) were more likely than Black or Asian students to drink alcohol or use illicit drugs


Mental health struggles among young people aren’t going away on their own. These harrowing rates of suicide, suicide attempts, and feelings of sadness and isolation show that teens everywhere, especially marginalized groups, need more robust mental health support.


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Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Teens


It can be difficult to accurately assess your child’s mental health. Most teens aren’t forthright with their inner feelings and moods. So how can you tell if your child is experiencing normal swings of adolescence or something more distressing?


Here are nine symptoms of depression among adolescents, according to the DSM-IV:


1.    Depressed mood or irritability

2.    Substantially decreased interest or pleasure in activities they used to enjoy

3.    Weight loss, poor appetite, or weight gain

4.    Problems with sleep, including insomnia, hyposomnia (sleeping more than usual), and regular fatigue

5.    Psychomotor retardation (slower bodily movements)

6.    Decreased energy

7.    Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt

8.    Difficulty concentrating and focusing, or inability to make decisions

9.    Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), or suicidal ideation, plan, or attempt


Some of these signs are noticeable to you as a parent, but others aren’t. For instance, you may not know if they’re having difficulty concentrating or feeling worthless. Keep an eye out for these common (and visible) red flags that may indicate poor mental health in your child.

  • Avoiding social situations with friends and family

  • Abnormal academic issues, such as slipping grades or getting into trouble at school

  • Unexplained body aches or pains

  • Declining hygiene practices, such as not brushing teeth, not brushing or washing hair, not doing laundry, etc.

  • Change in appearance, including marked weight loss or gain

  • Strange sleeping patterns, including napping a lot during the day or being unable to fall asleep at night

  • Excessive irritability or temperamental mood

  • Use of alcohol or drugs (this is often a coping mechanism to deal with unwanted feelings and emotions)


Seeking support for your teen is vital when these signs and symptoms last more than a few weeks or continue to worsen. Early intervention provides crucial support and can even save your teen’s life. 

Treatment for Teenage Depression in New York


Therapy for teen depression can help your child learn skills and tools to better understand and cope with depression. As a group practice that specializes in depression and other mental health issues among children, teens, and young adults, Liz Morrison Therapy is here to help your whole family access effective depression treatment. Therapy can help your teen learn how to:

  • Challenge and reframe negative thoughts and beliefs

  • Build self-compassion

  • Increase self-worth and self-esteem

  • Explore and address the origins of their depression

  • Cultivate emotion regulation techniques

  • Recover from co-occurring disorders they’ve developed to cope with depression, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, or self-harm practices


If you want to support your teen in getting the depression treatment they need, feel free to get in touch with us for a free 15-minute phone consultation. We can answer any questions you have, see whether we’re a good fit, and start working toward a better future today.

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Help Your Teen Overcome Depression With the Help of Therapy for Teens in New York City, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and anywhere else in the state of New York!

Join us in the fight against your teen’s depression! Take the first step towards healing and empowerment by seeking therapy for teens. Together at Liz Morrison Therapy, we can equip them with the tools and support they need to overcome challenges and embrace a brighter tomorrow. Follow these three simple steps to get started:

1. Contact us to schedule an appointment for Therapy for Teens

2. Begin meeting with a skilled teen therapist

3. Start seeing positive changes in your teen!

Other Services Offered at Liz Morrison Therapy

At Liz Morrison Therapy, we offer services for the whole family. So in addition to helping your teen cope with their depression in therapy for teens, our services also include Parenting Support for those looking to create healthy relationships with their children to help them live their best lives, Young Adult Therapy for individuals looking for support, guidance, and real-world strategies to help them deal with their struggles, and Anxiety Therapy for those wanting to cope with their anxiety in healthy ways. For more about us check out our Blogs and FAQs


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