In 2007, 8 percent of teens said they had experienced depression. 10 years later, in 2017, that statistic went up to 13%. Depression in teens is such an issue in today’s society because not only does it keep getting worse, but more importantly, not enough is done about it.

Believe it or not, it was previously thought that depression was only an occurrence among adults. Although we now know this is false, depression is still often overlooked among college students, high schoolers, or even younger. As rates of both depression and suicide continue to rise, it is important to both understand the issue, and learn to recognize it.

To understand the issue, we need to look at the statistics and realize just how big the problem is. According to, around 20 percent of teens experience depression by adulthood. Of this 20 percent, 10 to 15 percent suffer symptoms at any one point in time. And these statistics only scratch the surface. That’s because what starts as depression can lead to suicide. According to, every 100 minutes a teenager takes their own life. In fact, suicide is the third leading cause of death among those aged 15-24. One of the most worrying statistics, however, is that it’s believed only 30 percent of teens who are experiencing depression are being treated for it. This statistic shows how big of a problem depression being overlooked truly is.

So, how do you recognize symptoms of depression? Among teens, it’s not easy. While it’s true some teens may exhibit extreme symptoms and endure severe depressive episodes, it can be harder to recognize in most cases. A study from social indicators research showed that symptoms like having trouble focusing, lack of appetite, restlessness or irritability, and having trouble sleeping are all common symptoms of depression that are more commonly overlooked. 

The reason for this is that being a teen is an especially emotionally difficult point in one’s life, so symptoms of depression such as these are often written off as the result of hormones. Another problem is that during high school many teens will withdraw from family life. Teens may stop talking to family all together, or simply see them less as a result of having less time. Whatever the reason, parents often allow their teens to have more space, because it’s usually normal for teens to exhibit this behavior.

The unfortunate result of this is that teens lose a confidant in their parents, who often could be the only ones who could recognize symptoms, because teens are much less likely to open up to friends about such mental health issues, and even if they do, their peers are unlikely to know how to get their friends the help they need. This ties into yet another reason that teen depression is more often than not left unnoticed: insecurity about mental health. Especially among teenage boys, who often feel social pressure to show less emotion or emotional weakness, teenagers will keep to themselves about mental health issues because they are in denial, or feel like they don’t want to be a burden to those around them. 

But we cannot let social norms mean those who need help don’t get it because they’re embarrassed about their mental health problems. We cannot let social norms stop us from extending a helping hand to someone who needs it because we don’t know them that well, or we could be wrong and they could be fine.

A key way to being able to recognize depression is knowing how not to overlook it. What that means is when your peers seem withdrawn, if something life-changing happens to them, or if they just look like they could use some reassurance, don’t write it off. Don’t figure they just had a bad day, make an effort to let them know they’re cared about. At worst, you’re giving someone who didn’t really need it a compliment. To solve this problem, we need to be open and accepting. Nothing should be taboo. Nothing should be awkward. It’s a matter of life of death, and if someone needs you, they have no shame. Just be there for them.