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Depression Management for Adolescents



is a medical condition that causes feelings of sadness or hopelessness that do not go away. Depression may cause you to lose interest in things you used to enjoy. These feelings may interfere with your daily life.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Appetite changes, or weight gain or loss
  • Trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Feeling restless, irritable, or withdrawn
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless, discouraged, or guilty
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering things, doing daily tasks, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US), or ask someone to call if:

  • You think about harming yourself or another person.
  • You tell someone you want to harm yourself or another person.

Call your doctor or therapist if:

  • Your symptoms do not improve.
  • You have new or worsening symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


Your healthcare provider will help you and your family develop a plan for your treatment. He or she will ask you to make plans for coping at home, school, and around friends. The plan may include an emergency contact in case you feel like hurting yourself or others. It may also include regular exercise, good nutrition, and any of the following:

  • Antidepressant medicine may be given to improve or balance your mood. You may need to take this medicine for several weeks before you begin to feel better. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects or problems you have with your medicine. The type or amount of medicine may need to be changed.
  • Therapy can help you learn to cope with your thoughts and feelings. This can be done alone or in a group. It may also be done with family members. Therapy and antidepressant medicines are often used together to treat depression or prevent it from coming back later. Healthcare providers can help you find the kinds of medicine and therapy that work best for you.


  • Get regular physical activity. Try to get at least 1 hour of physical activity every day, such as going for a walk. Physical activity can improve depression and help you sleep better.
    Walking for Exercise
  • Get enough sleep. Create a routine to help you relax before bed. You can listen to music, read, or do yoga. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Sleep is important for emotional health.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. A healthy meal plan is low in fat, salt, and added sugar. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about a meal plan that is right for you.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use drugs. Alcohol and drugs can make your symptoms worse.

The following resources are available at any time to help you, if needed:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)
  • Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE)
  • For a list of international numbers:

Follow up with your therapist or doctor as directed:

Follow-up visits are a way for healthcare providers to learn if your depression is getting better. Providers will also monitor your medicine if you take antidepressants. Tell them if the medicine is helping and about any side effects or problems you are having. The type or amount of medicine may need to be changed. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Depression Management for Adolescents (Ambulatory Care)

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.