Know the Signs

The teen years can be tough on parents/caregivers and teens themselves. These years are the flash point between “dependence” and “independence,” and bring significant changes and uncertainty. When experiencing unusual feelings or behaviors, difficult relationships and common struggles, how can we know if teens are ‘just being teens,’ or if there is truly cause for concern?

LEAD Pittsburgh’s website is meant to be a resource to raise awareness of the signs of teen anxiety and depression. Use the links provided to connect to other organizations and services to expand your knowledge and gain additional insights into your teen’s well-being. Your care and loving support can help make a difference for your teen.

An important first step is to know and recognize common signs of teen depression, and note the duration (at least 2 weeks) and severity of symptoms.

Early recognition of signs which are negatively impacting the day-to-day life of your teen, and providing appropriate support may make it possible to interrupt the progression of symptoms into something more serious.

The following information (below, and linked in the sidebar with permission from—”Parent’s Guide to Teen Depression”) is a place to start:

Common Signs of Depression to Watch For

  • Irritability, anger or hostility; Increasing aggression and outbursts
  • Withdrawal from some, but not all friends and family
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Intensifying feelings of shame, failure and unworthiness
  • Downturn in school performance, attendance and grades
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Sadness, hopelessness, tearfulness
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Turning to risky behaviors; Self-injury
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Common Signs of Anxiety to Watch For

(from WiseSova –

  • avoids social situations like hanging out with friends
  • asks to not go to school
  • often has headaches, belly aches, or trouble falling asleep
  • can have panic attacks
  • gets into arguments with you about changing their routine or trying something new

Many people can feel stressed or worried at times. When it gets in the way of them living the life they want to live and completing their goals is when it becomes a problem.