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Signs and symptoms of depression

Depression can change the way people think, feel, and behave. Everyone’s experience is different — but many people describe feeling deeply unhappy, over a long period of time, without knowing why.

It’s not always easy to recognize depression in yourself or someone else, but there are common symptoms to look out for:

 

  • Feeling sad, blue, tearful, hopeless, guilty, anxious, or irritable
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Problems concentrating, focusing, making decisions, or remembering
  • Loss of pleasure in activities you usually enjoy
  • Feeling life isn’t worth living or having thoughts of death or suicide

Hope and help for depression

Fortunately, many people get better when they have the right support. If you think you may be depressed, take our self-assessment.

Depression in children and teens

Growing up isn’t easy — family problems, peer pressure, isolation and issues around race, sexuality and gender identity can be overwhelming. Family conflicts over differences in values, ideas and behaviors can make it even harder. Ups and downs are normal — but if you know a child or teenager who might be depressed, talk to them about it. And if you’re a young person who’s struggling, find your words and ask a trusted adult for help.

Signs of depression in kids and teens

It can be especially challenging for younger people to talk about depression. Symptoms can be different in kids and teens — so it’s important for adults to know what to look for:

 

  • Trouble concentrating or decline in grades
  • Frequently getting in trouble at school
  • Being consistently down, negative, and/or irritable
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Talking about suicide in person or on social media
  • Signs of self-harm (cutting, burning, etc.)
  • Social isolation, rejecting or losing friends
  • Talking about or trying to run away from home
  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, or a change in appetite

Talking to kids about depression

You may have to try more than once. If they shut you out at first, keep trying to start the conversation. Be gentle but persistent about sharing your concerns and let them know you’re always there to listen.

 

Honor their feelings. You can’t talk someone out of feeling depressed. Resist the urge to say things like, “things aren’t that bad,” or “you’ll grow out of it,” even if their problems seem silly or small to you.

 

Trust your instincts. If they say they’re fine but you know something isn’t right, it’s important to get them talking. If not with you, then with another trusted adult like a teacher, counselor, or pediatrician.

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