Understanding Teen Depression:
Helping Yourself and Your Friends

Teen depression is real, common, and serious. Educating yourself about it can make it understandable, treatable, and manageable.

Depression is real

It isn’t a phase. You aren’t just being moody. Teen depression is a real disorder and should be treated like any other medical condition.

Depression is Common

You aren’t alone. Nearly 20% of young people will be impacted by depression before adulthood. It shouldn’t be stigmatized, and no one should feel isolated.

Depression is serious

While depression is common, it also can be very serious. Teens should know that they can, and should, get help for it.

What should I know about adolescent depression?

You may be concerned you or a friend might be struggling with depression. Those who are can sometimes feel like they are alone, unloved, and trapped in the shadows. We believe teens can learn to help themselves and others by raising awareness, raising attention, and raising their voices. If you are thinking, “I am a depressed teenager,” we have resources for you.

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Getting involved with Erika’s Lighthouse was an amazing way for me and other teenagers to understand that depression was not something to be ashamed of, but rather a topic we must further discuss. Everyone deserves good mental health, and organizations like this one are giving hope to those who need it. I will always be grateful for being a part of this organization that continues to impact many teenagers.

Edgar Avalos

Teen Participant , Rolling Meadows High School

What if I think I have adolescent depression?

The only people who can tell you if you have adolescent depression are licensed mental health workers and doctors. But they won’t know unless you talk to them. If you are feeling like you might be struggling, talk to any of the following people to connect you to help:

  • Your parents
  • Your teachers
  • School mental health workers
  • A trusted adult, including your coach, mentor or someone else in your community

Talking about it is the first step toward getting help. There is nothing to be ashamed of. You have nothing to lose in starting the conversation. You have your whole life to gain.

What Are Signs of Depression?

Depression looks different for everyone, but there are common hints. If you or a friend are experiencing any of these symptoms that are different than your “normal,” please connect with someone you can trust. Symptoms might include:

  • Change in mood: depressed or irritable
  • Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities
  • Significant weight change or change in appetite
  • Change in sleep: sleeping too much or too little
  • Change in activity: feeling sped up or slowed down
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Negative self-perception: feeling worthless or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Unable to think clearly: diminished ability to think, concentrate or indecisiveness
  • Suicidality: thoughts of death or suicide or acts of self-harm

How Can I Become An Advocate?

There is a lot you can do to help Get Depression Out of the Dark, including:

  • Use our Teen Empowerment Materials in your school
  • Start an Erika’s Lighthouse Teen Club
  • Check out our Depression Toolbox
  • Be a friend to someone who needs support

From organizing a school campaign to extending a hand of kindness to someone, you can make a difference in a life. Let’s work together.

Erika’s Lighthouse Programs: Designed with you in mind.

Worrying that you or someone you love has depression can be overwhelming. You are not alone. Hope and help is possible and it all starts with a little education.

Depression Toolbox