Managing your depression - teens

Also known as: Recognizing depression in your teen and Helping your teen with depression


Depression is a serious medical condition that you need help with until you feel better. Know that you are not alone. 1 in 5 teenagers will be depressed at some point. Luckily, there are ways to get treatment. Learn about treatment for depression and what you can do to help yourself get better.

Take Part in Talk Therapy

Talk therapy can help you feel better. Talk therapy is just that. You talk with a therapist or a counselor about how you are feeling and what you are thinking about.

You usually see a therapist once a week. The more open you are with your therapist about your thoughts and feelings, the more helpful the therapy can be.

Taking Medicine for Depression

Be involved with this decision if you can. Learn from your doctor if depression medicine might help you feel better. Talk about it with your doctor and parents.

If you take medicine for depression, know that:

  • It can take a few weeks to feel better after you start taking the medicine.
  • Antidepressant medicine works best if you take it every day.
  • You may need to take the medicine for at least 6 to 12 months to get the best effect and to lower the risk of depression coming back.
  • You need to talk to your doctor about how the medicine makes you feel. If it is not working enough, or if it is causing any side effects, your doctor may need to change the dose or the medicine you are taking.
  • You should not stop taking your medicine on your own. If the medicine does not make you feel good, talk to your doctor. Your doctor has to help you stop the medicine slowly. Stopping it suddenly could make you feel worse.

Stay in Touch with Your Depression Symptoms

If you are thinking about death or suicide:

  • Talk to a friend, family member, or your doctor right away.
  • You can always get immediate help by going to the nearest emergency room or calling 1-800-SUICIDE, or 1-800-999-9999. The hotline is open 24/7.

Talk with your parents or your doctor if you feel your depression symptoms getting worse. You may need a change in your treatment.

Avoid Risky Behaviors

Risky behaviors are behaviors that can hurt you. They include:

  • Unsafe sex
  • Drinking
  • Doing drugs
  • Driving dangerously
  • Skipping school

If you take part in risky behaviors, know that they can make your depression worse. Take control of your behavior rather than letting it control you.

Avoid drugs and alcohol. They can make your depression worse.

Spend time with friends who are positive and can support you.

When to Call the Doctor

Talk to your parents and call your doctor if you are:

  • Thinking about death or suicide
  • Feeling worse
  • Thinking about stopping your medicine


American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013.

Bostic JQ, Prince JB. Child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 69.

Clark MS, Jansen KL, Cloy JA. Treatment of childhood and adolescent depression. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86:442-448. PMID: 22963063

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Antidepressant medications for children and adolescents: information for parents and caregivers. Available at: Accessed October 31, 2014.

US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening and treatment for major depressive disorder in children and adolescents: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. Pediatrics. 2009;123:1223-1228. PMID: 19336383

Review date:
December 07, 2016
Reviewed by:
Fred K. Berger, MD, Addiction and Forensic Psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Copyright Information A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2008 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.