13 Red Flags of Teen Depression

depressed female soaking in bathtub

by Andrea Smith | Andrea Smith is a mother of two living in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. She finds joy in knitting and wine.


This pandemic has caused many of us to question our sanity, our moods, and whether we were experiencing bouts of mild depression. But what about our teens? Have we checked in on them and how do we know what the red flags of teen depression are?

Teens go through anxious times, pandemic or not. Their hormones run amuck and as such, it can be easy to fall into a dark spot. Depression manifests differently in young people. With that said, you still need to know what signs. you’re looking for. Parents need to know that teens experience emotions, beyond moodiness.

So, let’s take a look at the 13 Red Flags of Teen Depression. 

#1 Irritability

A distinct red flag is irritability. This is challenging knowing how to overcome or keep it in check. 

#2 Angry Outbursts

It is common for a depressed youth to have an angry outburst. They may be angry or hostile.

#3 Aches and Pains

If your teen experiences headaches or stomach aches and a doctors cannot determine the answer, the cause may be depression. 

#4 Withdrawal from Friends and Family

Depression comes with your teen maintaining some friendships or forming new ones. But they usually pull away from their parents. 

#5 Slipping Grades

 With depression, there’s also low energy and concentration. Their grades may drop, or a good student may be frustrated with schoolwork. 

#7 Loss of interest in activities

If you have an active teen and suddenly they avoid extracurricular activities or they show less enthusiasm for sports or hobbies. While it doesn’t necessarily mean depression, loss of interest in extracurricular activities could be a symptom.

#8 Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Consuming drugs and alcohol is a serious red flag. It’s their coping mechanism to self-medicate and a cry for help. 

#9 Running away

 Running away is another sign that your teen is having negative thoughts. 

#10 Smartphone addiction

Yes, it is real. Research shows that despondent teens easily immerse themselves in their phones. Their need is obsessive, using a smartphone to escape their problems. Are they using headphones to listen to music or watch videos? Are they always checking for texts?  Do they experience extreme anger or mood swings if their phone is taken away? All of these could be signs of smartphone addiction and could mean deeper feelings of depression.

#11 Reckless behavior 

Reckless Behavior is related to depression. This is dangerous and high-risk behavior and includes binge drinking, unsafe sex, and reckless driving.

#12 Violence

Victims of bullying are depressed. They lash out and become violent. 

#13 Crying bouts

Persistent crying can also be an indication. It’s because their despondent mood overwhelms them. 

How to Help 

Don’t yell or shout. This is a tough time, and you can’t hope that this depression will fade. You must act. Communication is the key. But perhaps they would be comfortable talking to a professional, counselor, or mental health professional. You are still there for support. Open the conversation with a gentle approach explaining that you noticed these signs. Don’t talk at them and understand they might be unresponsive.

Of course, they might become defensive, but you cannot lecture or criticize them. Then ask them to share. They may seem silly but acknowledge their reality. Perhaps they won’t  be responsive but you should be patient and express to them that you are willing to listen when they are ready. Even if they are denying this troubling pattern, trust your gut. 

The Takeaway 

Sadly, most depressed teens never receive help. We know everyone needs help. The next time you notice any of the above,  remember they are signs you shouldn’t ignore. There’s no immediate solution, but if you work together, your love will guide them. Don’t feel pressure to medicate your child. Your teen needs to be involved in the decision on how you seek treatment. Be understanding and don’t assign blame.


Author Photo of the article, "13 Red Flags of Teen Depression"

Andrea Smith | Author

LinkedIN: dresmith31

Twitter: @JeopardyQueen

website: Da Write Gurl


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