What Are the Causes of Depression in Adolescence?

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  • Written By: M.C. Huguelet
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 30 March 2020
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While the teenage years are emotionally difficult for many, some adolescents find themselves stuck in a lingering state of sadness or despair that is more than a mere case of the teenage blues. There are many possible causes of depression in adolescence. In some cases, depression can be caused by conflict or change in a teen’s home environment, while in other cases, it may result from academic or social pressures. Sometimes, depression in adolescence is related to a psychological or physical condition, such as bipolar disorder or a disability. Those who suspect an adolescent may be suffering from depression should take steps to help him manage his condition.

Some cases of depression in adolescence are caused by stressors within a teen’s home environment. The death of a relative or family friend may trigger feelings of depression, for instance. A teen may also become depressed due to ongoing conflict between his parents or to the separation of his parents. Further, a home environment in which a teen does not feel safe, supported, or valued may also lead to depression.


Depression in adolescence may also be linked to social or academic pressures. For instance, a teen may become depressed because he feels that he does not fit in with his peers, because he has broken up with a significant other, or because he is confused or anxious about his sexual orientation. A teen who feels that he is expected to get good grades or to excel at a sport or other extracurricular activity may also experience depression.

In some cases, adolescent depression may result from an underlying mental or physical condition. For example, an individual who suffers from an anxiety disorder or a hormonal imbalance may enter a period of depression during his teen years. The existence of a physical disability, such as cerebral palsy, may also bring on depression in a teen, possibly because he begins to feel increasingly different from his peers during this time.

No matter the cause of an adolescent’s depression, if left untreated, his condition may put him at risk for self-destructive behaviors or even suicide. Consequently, those who believe that a teen in their life may be suffering from depression should make an effort to help him manage his condition. Parents, family members, and close friends might try speaking directly to the teen about his feelings and possibly arranging counseling. Those who feel they are not close enough to the teen to intervene directly may want to consider voicing their concerns to one of his parents or teachers.



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