To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, physicians generally look for a depressed mood or a lack of interest in hobbies or recreational activities. In teens, these signs might show up as changes in their grades, a disinterest in friends, or out-of-character irritability. If at least one of those symptoms is present, additional criteria are assessed.

Additionally, five out of following seven symptoms are required for diagnosis:

  • changes in sleep
  • guilt feeling
  • low energy level
  • lack of focus or  concentration or task completion
  • loss of  appetite or excessive appetite
  • lack of  motivation
  • suicidal thoughts

If any of these symptoms are experienced nearly every day for  2 weeks or more and it interferes with the functioning on a daily basis, then its necessary to meet your doctor

Signs of depression include:

  • Feeling persistently sad, anxious, or empty
  • Experiencing hopelessness or pessimism
  • Struggling with irritability
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Losing interest in hobbies or activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Body image issues
  • Lack of self esteem& self confidence
  • Struggling with fatigue or lack of energy
  • Moving and/or talking more slowly than usual
  • Feeling restless
  • Struggling with concentration, memory, and/or decision-making
  • Experiencing unexplained changes in appetite or weight
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide
  • Unexplained aches or pains that don’t go away when treated

While at least some of these symptoms generally have to be present for several weeks or months before an accurate diagnosis can be made, sometimes, even just 2 weeks’ worth of symptoms is enough to consider a diagnosis.

There is a range of options for treating mental illness in teens, including:

  • Identifying stressors, such as not getting enough sleep, skipping meals, or generally lacking a day-to-day routine—and remedying them
  • Counselling, which is often paired with medications
  • Prescribing psychiatric medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are “commonly used, very safe, and highly effective for depression, anxiety, and social phobias,” he says.

Mental illness is preventable. However, many parents come late to the doctor as there is a perceived denial that there is nothing wrong with my child and due to stigma associated with mental health problems. Remember, mental health problems start early in teens and can be prevented if detected early. Talking to your teenager and allowing them to ventilate their emotions without being judged or labeled is very important.