Four teens sitting around with sad faces demonstrating teen depression

The Youth Mental Health Dilemma: Statistics on Teen Depression

By: Kristina Murr

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Teen depression is a pressing concern for parents and guardians. According to the National Library of Medicine, depression is the main cause of illness and disability in the world. As a parent or guardian, two of the most important things you want for your child are for them to be healthy and happy. Unfortunately, some adolescents can struggle with depression.

Although depression can indeed look the same at all ages, it’s also important to note that it can show up in different ways for children and teenagers.

Let’s discuss some statistics on adolescent depression, signs to look out for, and how you can help the children in your life.


Understanding Teen Depression

Depression is defined as a mood disorder that can lead to depressive symptoms impacting emotional, mental, and physical well-being. It can have a significant impact on adolescent development and can affect school and work relationships. Adolescent depression can also impact relationships and underlying health conditions, including asthma.

Studies show that adolescents who have had a major depressive episode within the past year can be at a greater risk of suicide. They can also be more likely than others their age to begin abusing drugs and alcohol, which could lead to substance abuse disorders.

Statistics on Teen Depression

Teens with depression

It’s estimated that around 5 million adolescents from ages 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2021.

While this number may seem high and scary, it’s important to note that this number represents around 20% of children in that age group.

Difference between genders

29.2% of females experienced a major depressive episode compared to just 11.5% of males.


Breaking Down the Numbers on Teen Depression

For adolescents, the correlation between depression, suicide, and substance abuse is important to take note of and be cognizant of. According to the CDC among adolescents from 12 to 17 years old included in the study:

  • 36.7% struggled with persistent sadness or hopelessness feelings
  • 4.1% suffered from substance abuse disorder
  • 1.6% were abusing alcohol
  • 3.2% used illicit drugs
  • 18.8 considered attempting suicide
  • 15.7% made a plan to commit suicide
  • 8.9% attempted to commit suicide

Signs and Symptoms of Teen Depression

It’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of depression because it can have lasting impacts if it’s left untreated. Some things to be on the lookout for include:

How to Be Supportive

One of the biggest things you can do for your child is to be encouraging. This includes supporting them to have positive relationships and encouraging them to stay connected to others.

You can also explain depression to them in a way that is not judgemental and makes sense to them. It’s important to help them understand not only their feelings but also that there are solutions available.

It’s also important to address myths and stigma surrounding depression. Many believe that depression is someone who is lazy and is crying all the time. In reality, it can be someone who is struggling to socialize, sleep, eat, or maintain personal hygiene.

And while it may seem selfish–it’s just as important to take care of yourself and the rest of your family. While it may feel as though this is only happening to one person, it can also impact other members of your family if they see their loved one suffering.

Fortunately, there are resources and ways to help your adolescent who may be struggling with depression. While there’s not one official way to help, there are options available, including speaking to a licensed and trained mental health professional.

Remember, you’re not alone and neither is your adolescent. There are resources available to help. Reach out today to learn how therapy can help.

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