Depression Amongst Teens


Ella Jimenez


Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common mental illness that affects the way you think and the way you act. More than 264 million people worldwide suffer from this illness. There are many symptoms, such as loss of interest in past enjoyed activities, change in appetite and sleep, difficulty thinking or concentrating, and many more. Now, with COVID-19 bringing extra concerns to the average person’s daily life, we saw a major increase in symptoms of depression during April – June 2020.  During late June, 40% of people reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse. Before the pandemic struck, only 18.1% of Americans struggled with depression. 

Healthy Youth Survey data in Thurston County (2018)

Depression is also extremely common in teenagers. Issues such as hormonal changes, pressure in school, and the effects of social media can make young people more susceptible to developing depression. COVID-19 has also caused a spike in teen depression. Due to the lack of structure, as well as the inability to socialize, the struggle of online school has taken a major toll on most students. 

Personally, dealing with depression during the global pandemic has been an extremely tough struggle. As I attempt to put my mental health first, everything else falls short. My personal responsibilities seem literally impossible, and my sadness never goes away. It’s hard to enjoy doing things I once loved, especially things like learning and interacting with others. I also eat too little and sleep far too much. I never want to get out of bed. It’s also impossible for me to focus on anything I’m doing; I have the attention span of a goldfish. My memory is terrible, I can’t recall important things that I heard minutes before. 


This is my last semester as a 4.0 student. Normally, I would freak out having a B grade in a class. But now, I’m failing three classes and I’m still trying my hardest. Online classes are incredibly hard for me. Because of this pandemic, I’ve learned that I value social interaction and in-person learning more deeply than I would have thought. I feel that I definitely took my time in school for granted. I would do anything to go back in time and stop the spread of the virus. Online school is one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever had to overcome, and I’m unsure if I’ll be able to. All I want anymore is to pass my classes, and my depression gives me the feeling that I won’t be able to do even that. 


Jordan Stray, a counselor at Tumwater High School, says that “as a result of coronavirus, racial injustices, and many other factors, there has been an increase of students experiencing symptoms of depression”. To her, these symptoms include unusual sadness or irritability, loss of interest they once enjoyed, changes in academic performance, and shifts in sleep patterns. She says that although medical experts continue to debate the “causes” of clinical depression, things such as trauma, death of a loved one, major events (like the global pandemic), genetics, and substance abuse can increase someone’s chance of depression.


Mrs. Stray also wants to make sure that students with symptoms of depression are equipped with some protective steps. These can include having a plan for managing stress, taking care of your daily basic needs (getting enough sleep, eating, changing clothes, drinking water, and getting outside) and reaching out to your community of trusted individuals when things are hard. She also states that “one of the most valuable things to do during this incredibly uncertain time is trying to create structure and little pockets of ‘normalcy’ throughout your day.” 


For parents, she also recognizes that teens are very in-tune with the way their families talk about mental illness. She hopes parents stay conscious of how they talk about such topics when students are around. Students want to know they are loved and cared for no matter what they say. She advises parents to know the signs are symptoms that students with depression may be experiencing. Lastly, she tells parents to “ask the questions, and have the conversation”. 


There are many different resources that you can use when you are in need. These include but are not limited to:


  • School Counselors
  • Other trusted adults
  • Crisis Lines
    • The Crisis Clinic of Thurston & Mason County Teen Help Line (360) 586-2800
    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
    • Trevor Project (crisis line for LGBTQ+ youth 1-866-488-7386
    • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741


Works Cited

Depression. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2021, from

Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2021, from

Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic – United States, June 24–30, 2020. (2020, August 13). Retrieved January 11, 2021, from