What Does Depression Really Feel Like To A Teen?

Although there have been many studies conducted about depression as a whole, studies on general symptoms that could be seen in people, and especially how it manifests in daily situations, people suffering from depression still experience it in unique ways.  We aren’t going to talk about causes, symptoms or treatments, but instead, try our best to know and understand teen depression in its purest and most relatable forms. 

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We’re going to put ourselves in the case of someone dealing with depression, to empathize, do away with misconceptions and hopefully be of help in the most real way possible.

“I Am So Confused”

It shouldn’t come as unfamiliar that the word ‘confused’ is associated with something as complex as depressive disorder. It’s confusing because first, to a teen genuinely suffering from it, the misconceptions and stigma that comes with the illness can surely get the best of you. It doesn’t help that social media could be a very toxic place for teenagers. As Brie Shelly, MS, LMHC, RYT explains, “The rise and growing significance of social media has caused an influx of mental health concerns, such as low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Now is the time to start paying attention to how social media is influencing your life choices and mental health.”


A basic definition of depression is that it is an illness or a disorder that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. On a surface level, the mere fact that it causes irregularities in your thoughts should help us see that if depression is confusing for people in the outside, the more it is for people who experience it.

The best thing you can do is not to ask. Don’t ask about the depression because it causes much distress for someone to come up with the answers to tell you. Instead of being invasive, be present and willing to listen. Teenage years are some of the most sensitive, so the same is required when dealing with an illness.

“I Feel Bad In All Definitions Of The Word”

Let’s start with the most basic. Not known to many, depression can manifest through physical effects. Can you just imagine how difficult it must be to be weighed down by your emotions and feel it physically, too? Well, that’s certainly what people have to go through. “Just like our feelings give us information about our needs, so do our bodies through physiological feedback,” says  Eliza Chamblin, LCSW


A teen might find themselves spacing out during class, or never having the feeling of tiredness and sleepiness go away. It can be that one some days, for no apparent reason, they would just be unable to get up from the bed. They could be experiencing insomnia, or days when they cry before even realizing it.

Without depression, self-esteem is something that all teenagers need to deal with, and this is heightened by the illness. Show them love when they might question their self-worth. Encourage them to be passionate when they seem apathetic to things they used to be excited about.

“Nothing Is Going Right For Me”

“Mental health issues can be caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors, and can have a minor or major impact on a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” Christina L. Gmyr, LMHC, NCC said. If there’s one word that could best encapsulate the feeling of living with depression, it’s the word ‘debilitating.’ You will find that people living with depression will lose a sense of ambition, hopefulness, and optimism in general. It’s easy to get frustrated because as a friend, your advice and your friendship doesn’t seem to be helping, but remember that it’s an illness and not an attitude.


This becomes especially important when thoughts of suicide come about. Remind them of brighter things, like plans for the future, significant family events, and anything they can look forward to.


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Do your best to encourage your friend to seek professional help. If they are not interested, give them resources to help lift their spirits. The most important thing is for them to feel like they aren’t alone, and your presence is the best help you can give.