Depression Home > Types of Depression in Teens

Major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disorder are among the most frequently diagnosed types of depression in teens. Teenagers with major depression have symptoms similar to those of adults with major depression -- including, but not limited to, sadness, irritability, and indecisiveness. A child or adolescent who has dysthymia may be depressed for most of the day, on most days, and for several years. A teenager with bipolar disorder has cycles of mood changes, alternating between mania (a severe high) to depression (a severe low).

An Overview of Types of Depression in Teens

There are a number of different types of depression that a person can experience. Several of them start during the teenage years. The most frequently diagnosed types of depression in teens include:
Another type of depression seen in teens is known as reactive depression.

Major Depression

Major depression is identified by a combination of symptoms that interfere with the ability to work, study, sleep, eat, and enjoy activities that were once pleasurable (see Symptoms of Depression). Such a disabling episode of depression may occur only once, but more commonly occurs several times in a lifetime. Major depression can occur for the first time during the teenage years.
In teenagers, an episode of depression lasts on average from seven to nine months and has many signs of depression similar to those in adults. Teenagers with depression can be:
  • Sad
  • Irritable (which may lead to aggressive behavior)
  • Indecisive (which may be accompanied by having problems concentrating)
  • Pessimistic, or even hopeless, about the future.
They may also:
  • Lose interest in activities that used to please them
  • Criticize themselves and feel that others criticize them
  • Feel unloved
  • Think that life is not worth living (thoughts of suicide may be present)
  • Lack energy or motivation
  • Neglect their appearance and hygiene.
Major depression is also known as:
  • Clinical depression
  • Unipolar depression
  • Major depressive disorder.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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