Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Managing your depression - teens


Depression is a serious medical condition that you need help with until you feel better. Know that you are not alone. 1 in 5 teenagers will be depressed at some point. Luckily, there are ways to get treatment. Learn about treatment for depression and what you can do to help yourself get better.

Alternative Names

Recognizing depression in your teen; Helping your teen with depression

Take Part in Talk Therapy

Talk therapy can help you feel better. Talk therapy is just that. You talk with a therapist or a counselor about how you are feeling and what you are thinking about.

You usually see a therapist once a week. The more open you are with your therapist about your thoughts and feelings, the more helpful the therapy can be.

Taking Medicine for Depression

Be involved with this decision if you can. Learn from your doctor if depression medicine might help you feel better. Talk about it with your doctor and parents.

If you take medicine for depression, know that:

  • It can take a few weeks to feel better after you start taking the medicine.
  • Antidepressant medicine works best if you take it every day.
  • You may need to take the medicine for at least 6 to 12 months to get the best effect and to lower the risk of depression coming back.
  • You need to talk to your doctor about how the medicine makes you feel. If it is not working enough, or if it is causing any side effects, your doctor may need to change the dose or the medicine you are taking.
  • You should not stop taking your medicine on your own. If the medicine does not make you feel good, talk to your doctor. Your doctor has to help you stop the medicine slowly. Stopping it suddenly could make you feel worse.

Stay in Touch with Your Depression Symptoms

If you are thinking about death or suicide:

  • Talk to a friend, family member, or your doctor right away.
  • You can always get immediate help by going to the nearest emergency room or calling 1-800-SUICIDE, or 1-800-999-9999. The hotline is open 24/7.

Talk with your parents or your doctor if you feel your depression symptoms are getting worse. You may need a change in your treatment.

Avoid Risky Behaviors

Risky behaviors are behaviors that can hurt you. They include:

  • Unsafe sex
  • Drinking
  • Doing drugs
  • Driving dangerously
  • Skipping school

If you take part in risky behaviors, know that they can make your depression worse. Take control of your behavior rather than letting it control you.

Avoid drugs and alcohol. They can make your depression worse.

Spend time with friends who are positive and can support you.

When to Call the Doctor

Talk to your parents and call your doctor if you are:

  • Thinking about death or suicide
  • Feeling worse
  • Thinking about stopping your medicine


American Psychiatric Association. Major depressive disorder. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013;160-168.

Bostic JQ, Prince JB, Buxton DC. Child and adolescent psychiatric disorders. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 69.

National Institute of Mental Health. Antidepressant medications for children and adolescents: information for parents and caregivers. Web site. Accessed December 15, 2016.

Siu AL; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for depression in children and adolescents: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2016;164(5):360-366. PMID: 26858097

Review Date:11/18/2016
Reviewed By:Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?