Depression in Young Adults: What You Need to Know

Teenagers are often described as “moody” for a reason. During the teenage years, as a child’s body and brain continue to develop, it can cause a wide variety of emotions. On any given day a teenager may experience feelings of happiness, sadness, stress, types of anxiety, frustration, and even depression.

However, teen depression goes far beyond just moodiness. While we all may experience sadness throughout our lives, depression in young adults can go far beyond the occasional feeling of “down in the dumps.” Depression in young adults is a serious mental health condition that, when not properly addressed can lead to issues such as substance abuse, addiction, and even suicide.

Luna Recovery Services in Houston, Texas offers an adolescent treatment program designed to help parents of teens and young adults better understand depression, and help them identify possible warning signs.

Understanding Teen Depression

depression in young adults

As we touched on in the introduction, teen depression goes far beyond typical teen moodiness. It is a serious mental health condition that is highlighted by long-lasting feelings of grief and sadness, often lasting weeks at a time.

Whether it’s teens or adults, it is important to remember that depression is not a temporary emotion. It is a medical condition and just like other medical conditions requires treatment. When left untreated, depression can negatively impact a teenager’s emotions, behaviors, and overall well-being.

Prevalence of Teen Depression in Young Adults

According to Mental Health America, roughly 15% of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 reported suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the past year. According to the same study, the state of Texas largely mimicked this nationwide average with roughly 14.6% of adolescents suffering from at least one major depressive episode (363,000 adolescents).

Below are some additional facts and figures about the prevalence of teen depression both in the state of Texas and around the United States:

  • Over 2.5 million adolescents suffer from severe major depression
  • Of those over 2.5 million adolescents over 60% did not receive proper mental health treatment
  • According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) between 2009 and 2019 the rate of adolescent depression increased from 8.1% to 15.8%
  • Over that same 10-year period girls suffered from depression at a higher rate than boys
  • Depression is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions in children along with ADHD, anxiety disorders, and behavioral problems

Signs and Symptoms of Depression in Young Adults


Recognizing the signs and symptoms of teen depression is crucial for early detection and intervention. Being able to spot signs of depression in your teen or young adult can allow you to get them the help they need before conditions worsen.

Below are some common signs and symptoms of teen depression:

  • Persistent sadness or low mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Changes in appetite and weight (significant weight loss or gain)
  • Changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or excessive sleeping)
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Irritability, agitation, or restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches without any underlying medical cause
  • Increased sensitivity to rejection or criticism
  • A decline in academic performance
  • Substance abuse or engaging in risky behaviors
  • Expressing feelings of being misunderstood or unloved
  • Loss of motivation or purpose
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

It is important to note that the presence of one or more of these symptoms does not automatically indicate depression. However, if these symptoms persist for an extended period and significantly affect a teenager’s daily life and well-being, it is essential to seek professional help, such as the Adolescent Mental Health Treatment program at Luna Recovery.

Risk Factors and Causes of Depression in Young Adults

Teen depression can arise from a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. While like many other mental health conditions, genetics can play a major role in the development of depression, some of the other common causes and risk factors of teen depression include:

  • Bullying – While bullying is pretty common amongst kids it can have a significant negative impact on the self-esteem of the person being bullied. Repeated bullying can lead to intense feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, both signs of depression
  • Co-occurring mental and physical health conditions – Many teens that suffer from depression also suffer from co-occurring conditions such as substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, or ADHD
  • Past or present trauma – Experiencing trauma at a young age can increase the risk of the development of mental health conditions such as depression or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Lack of support – Whether the lack of support is coming from friends, family, or both, teens who feel as though they don’t have a support system are more likely to develop depression.

Is My Teen Depressed?

It can be challenging for parents to distinguish between typical teenage mood swings and depression. However, certain indicators can help differentiate between the two. If your teenager’s behavior becomes increasingly severe, persists for an extended period, and interferes with their daily life, it may be a sign of depression.

If you are concerned that your teen may be suffering from depression it is important to consult with their primary care physician or a treatment professional. Oftentimes they can perform assessments to determine if your child is suffering the depression and the severity of the depression, and offer recommendations for treatment options that will best fit their needs.

Suicide and Depression in Young Adults

Depression is a significant risk factor for suicide among teenagers. It is vital to take any talk or thoughts of self-harm or suicide seriously. It is not uncommon for depressed individuals to feel hopeless, trapped, or overwhelmed.

Educating yourself about the warning signs of suicide and being proactive in seeking help can be life-saving for your teenager. Some potential warning signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide, either directly or indirectly
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Increased isolation and social withdrawal
  • Giving away prized possessions or making final arrangements
  • Engaging in reckless or risky behaviors without considering the consequences
  • Expressing feelings of being a burden to others
  • Increased anger, irritability, or agitation
  • Dramatic changes in mood, such as sudden calmness after a period of depression
  • Loss of interest in plans or goals
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Drastic changes in sleeping patterns (insomnia or excessive sleeping)
  • Displaying impulsive or self-destructive behaviors
  • Preoccupation with death, dying, or suicide in their artwork, written materials, or online posts
  • Seeking access to lethal items (such as firearms or medications)
  • Previous suicide attempts or self-harm incidents

Depression and Social Media Use

In today’s digital age, social media plays a significant role in the lives of young adults. While it offers various benefits, excessive or negative use of social media can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Cyberbullying, unrealistic comparisons, and constant exposure to curated lives can have detrimental effects on a teenager’s mental health. It is important to encourage healthy social media habits and open discussions about its potential impact.

How To Talk With Your Child About Depression

Approaching the topic of depression with your child can be challenging, but open and supportive communication is essential. If you are looking to talk to your child about depression, here are some important things to consider:

You want to make sure that your child feels comfortable having what could potentially be an uncomfortable conversation with you. A great way to do that is to make sure you promote an environment where you listen and don’t judge or lecture. The best thing you can do, especially early on in the conversation is to make sure your teen knows that you are there for them 100%.

Oftentimes with teenagers what is depression may be confused as just them being “moody”. Educating yourself on the signs of depression can help when the time comes to talk to your child. If your child feels that you have an understanding of what they are going through they may feel more comfortable confiding in you.

Treatment for Depression in Young Adults

depression in teens

Effective treatment for depression in young adults often involves a combination of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Luna Recovery offers a comprehensive Adolescent Treatment Program designed to address the unique needs of teenagers struggling with depression. Our program incorporates evidence-based therapies, psychiatric support, and a supportive environment to promote healing and recovery.

Luna Recovery’s Adolescent Treatment Program Can Help

At Luna Recovery, we understand the challenges faced by young adults dealing with depression. Our Adolescent Treatment Program combines compassionate care with evidence-based treatments to help teenagers overcome depression and regain a sense of well-being. To learn more about our specialized program and how we can help your teenager, contact us today.