Information for parents and carers
Adolescence is a time of change and it can be hard to tell the difference between “normal teenage behaviour” and depression and anxiety. However, about one in four 16–24-year-olds have depression and one in twenty-five 13–17 year olds will experience anxiety. If your son or daughter shows signs of these conditions, getting help early can improve their wellbeing as well as helping to stop the problems happening again when they become adults.
Depression and anxiety among adolescents
There are many myths about depression and anxiety in young people, but the reality is that feeling sad, irritable or anxious most of the time is not a “normal” part of adolescence.
Everybody feels sad or down sometimes, but depression is more than short-term sadness. It’s a medical condition that causes persistent changes to a person’s thoughts, mood, behaviour and physical health. It also affects his or her enjoyment of life.
Feeling anxious occasionally is also normal, for example before an exam. However, an anxiety disorder is far more intense and can go on for weeks or months, affecting health and day-to-day activities. There are many types of anxiety disorder and the symptoms vary.
Many different factors can contribute to depression and anxiety in young people. When it happens, it’s no-one’s fault. The important thing is that depression and anxiety are identified and treated early — left untreated, they can lead to underachieving at study or work, misuse of alcohol and drugs, and an increased risk of suicide.