Coping with Depression, Teen

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Managing Depression, Teen

Managing Depression, Teen

Depression is a mental health condition that can affect your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. You may feel down, blue, or sad, or you may be irritable and moody. If you have been diagnosed with depression, you may be relieved to know why you have felt or behaved a certain way. If you are living with depression, there are ways to help you relieve your symptoms and feel better.

How to manage lifestyle changes

Experiencing depression is not easy. It can lead to you feeling stressed. Experiencing too much stress can cause you to feel more depressed, and lead to drinking alcohol, drug use, and suicidal thoughts.

Managing stress

Stress is your body's reaction to life's demands. You can have stress from good things, such as a vacation, or difficult things, such as a hard test. Stress that lasts a long time can play a part in depression, so it is important to learn how to manage stress.

Try some of the following approaches for reducing your tension and helping to manage stress (stress reduction techniques):
  • If you play an instrument, take some time to play it, or listen to music that helps you feel calm.
  • Try using a meditation app.
  • Do some deep breathing. To do this, inhale slowly through your nose. Pause at the top of your inhale for a few seconds and then exhale slowly, letting yourself relax. Repeat this three or four times.
  • Exercise regularly, especially outdoors if you are able.
  • Talk to a mental health professional, family, friends, or a support group.

Other approaches to stress reduction include the following:
  • Take frequent breaks during times of stress.
  • Get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid negative self-talk.
  • Limit screen time, especially before bed.
  • Set a sleep schedule.


Antidepressants are often prescribed by a health care provider. When used together, medicines, psychotherapy, and stress reduction techniques are often the most effective treatment.

Medicines take time to work. You may not notice the full benefits of your medicine for 4–8 weeks.

Do not stop taking your medicine. Talk to your health care provider and have a plan to lower your dose safely if you need to stop taking your medicine.


A teen talking with a mental health care provider.

Relationships are important to people throughout their lives. Friends and family can be great resources to help you deal with the difficult feelings you get from depression. Make time to talk to them. You may also want to talk with a therapist to help you manage your depression.

How to recognize changes

Everyone responds differently to treatment for depression. Recovery from depression happens when your symptoms have decreased or gone away, and you may:
  • Have more interest in doing activities.
  • Feel hopeful again.
  • Have more energy.
  • Have fewer problems with eating too much or too little food.
  • Have better mental focus.

If you find your depression does not change, you may still:
  • Have problems sleeping or waking, feel tired all the time, or have trouble focusing.
  • Have changes in your appetite. You may lose or gain weight without trying.
  • Have constant headaches or stomachaches.
  • Want to be alone or avoid interacting with others.
  • Lack interest in doing the things you usually like to do.
  • Feel angry or irritated most of the time.

Follow these instructions at home:


Two teens walking a dog outside.
  • Spend time with trusted friends who help you feel better.
  • Get some form of activity each day, such as walking, biking, or any movement activity you enjoy.
  • Practice self-calming and other stress reduction techniques.


  • Get the right amount and quality of sleep.
  • Do not use drugs. Do not drink alcohol.
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean protein. Limit foods that are high in solid fats, added sugars, or salt (sodium).

General instructions

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Tell your health care provider about the positive and negative effects you are having from your medicines.
  • Keep all follow-up visits. It is important for your health care provider to check on your mood, behavior, and medicines. Your health care provider may need to make changes to your treatment.

Where to find support

Talking to others

Support may include:
  • Suicide prevention, crisis prevention, and depression hotlines.
  • Teachers, counselors, coaches, or religious community members.
  • Parents or other family members.
  • Trusted friends.
  • Support groups.

Therapy and support groups

You can locate a counselor or support group from one of these sources:

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You stop taking your antidepressant medicines, and you have any of these symptoms:
    • Nausea.
    • Headache.
    • Light-headedness.
    • Chills and body aches.
    • Not being able to sleep (insomnia).
  • You or your friends and family think your depression is getting worse.
  • You use alcohol, drugs, or tobacco or nicotine products.

Get help right away if:

  • You feel suicidal and are planning suicide.
  • You are drinking or using drugs excessively.
  • You are cutting yourself or thinking about it.
  • You are thinking about hurting others and are making a plan to do so.

Get help right away if you feel like you may hurt yourself or others, or have thoughts about taking your own life.
  • Call 911.
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 988. This is open 24 hours a day.
  • Text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.