Treatment for Depression in Teens

What is Adolescent Depression?

Teenagers must endure some of the most stressful years of life development.  The surge of hormone release, maturation, and stress creates a cocktail for anxiety and depression.

Although many of us have seen depression for adults, depression looks different with children and teens.  Specifically, teens who struggle with depression can appear irritable, defiant, or aggressive, rather than the typical hopelessness or helplessness seen in adulthood.

Depression is one of the most common disorders in the U.S., with approximately 1 in 10 people suffering from clinically significant symptoms (Compton, Conway, Stinson, & Grant, 2006; CDC, 2010). 

Symptoms of depression might include (DSM-5):

  • Bouts of anger
  • Lack of focus or attention
  • Loss of hope
  • Helplessness
  • Feeling down or sad
  • Sleep or appetite changes
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Thoughts of suicide or death*
  • Isolation or loneliness

* If you or your teen is experiencing thoughts of suicide, contact the suicide hotline immediately (1-800-273-8255), or call 911. 

Many teens struggle with symptoms of depression, which makes this disorder one of the most common causes of disability in the United States (CDC, 2010).  For example, a teen with depression may struggle to focus in class, thereby decreasing academic performance, thereby resulting in inability to attend college or get a well-suited job. 

Teenagers are learning important lessons about socialization, independence, and work ethic.  As such, difficulty meeting those standards may result in difficulty at school, at work, and with the family.  Many parents notice teens begin to withdraw or become confrontational during episodes of depression, and so detection of these warning signs is critical.

If you or your teen struggle with symptoms of depression, please contact me as soon as possible.  Depression is highly treatable and can be quickly managed through psychological services.


Treatment for Depression

Psychotherapy is the safest and most effective treatment option for teens with depression (Barth et al, 2013; Beard et al, 2016).  With younger children, parents are often involved in the treatment process to expedite the child’s progress.  Although therapy for teens may also involve the parent, we will discuss the boundaries of sharing so that teens may share freely with the therapist. 

Careful assessment is essential to the process for treating depression in teens.  Depression and anxiety can look very similarly in teens, but the treatment is different. 

As a Cognitive Behavioral psychologist, I focus on your teen’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to their depression.  As your teenager progresses in therapy, they will learn to:

  • Develop trust with parents
  • Communicate feelings of distress in a healthy manner
  • Decrease thoughts of suicide
  • Identify problematic ways of thinking
  • Feel more socially connected
  • Improve self-esteem

If you or your teen struggle with symptoms of depression, contact me as soon as possible to schedule your first session. 

To read about how depression affects adults and children, check out the Treatment of Depression in Adults and Treatment of Depression for Children pages to learn more.


Interested?  Let’s Connect!

If you are interested in therapy services, please contact me as soon as possible. I would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have about my practice. 

It is never too late to receive treatment.  I believe I can help make a difference in your child’s life.  Together, we can get them one step closer to optimal health. 


Read About Dr. Montgomery

Want to learn more about me? 

Click on the About tab to find out more about my credentials and get a better sense for who I am.

I help people and their families in the Newport Beach area, but I also work with folks from Irvine, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Rancho Santa Margarita, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, Anaheim, Orange, Tustin, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, Dana Point, Fountain Valley and more.


Want to Learn More? 

Want to learn more about therapy, assessment, and mental illness?  

Check out the tabs above, or click on the links below:



Barth, J., Munder, T., Gerger, H., Nüesch, E., Trelle, S., Znoj, H., ... & Cuijpers, P. (2013). Comparative efficacy of seven psychotherapeutic interventions for patients with depression: a network meta-analysis. PLoS medicine10(5), e1001454.

Beard, C., Stein, A. T., Hearon, B. A., Lee, J., Hsu, K. J., & Björgvinsson, T. (2016). Predictors of depression treatment response in an intensive CBT partial hospital. Journal of clinical psychology72(4), 297-310.

Carter, J. D., McIntosh, V. V., Jordan, J., Porter, R. J., Frampton, C. M., & Joyce, P. R. (2013). Psychotherapy for depression: a randomized clinical trial comparing schema therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. Journal of affective disorders151(2), 500-505.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC. (2010). Current depression among adults-United States, 2006 and 2008. MMWR. Morbidity and mortality weekly report59(38), 1229.

Compton, W. M., Conway, K. P., Stinson, F. S., & Grant, B. F. (2006). Changes in the prevalence of major depression and comorbid substance use disorders in the United States between 1991–1992 and 2001–2002. American Journal of Psychiatry163(12), 2141-2147.

Cuijpers, P., Sijbrandij, M., Koole, S. L., Andersson, G., Beekman, A. T., & Reynolds, C. F. (2013). The efficacy of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy in treating depressive and anxiety disorders: A meta‐analysis of direct comparisons. World Psychiatry12(2), 137-148.

Honyashiki, M., Furukawa, T. A., Noma, H., Tanaka, S., Chen, P., Ichikawa, K., ... & Caldwell, D. M. (2014). Specificity of CBT for depression: A contribution from multiple treatments meta-analyses. Cognitive therapy and research38(3), 249-260.

Pehrson, A. L., Leiser, S. C., Gulinello, M., Dale, E., Li, Y., Waller, J. A., & Sanchez, C. (2015). Treatment of cognitive dysfunction in major depressive disorder—a review of the preclinical evidence for efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors and the multimodal-acting antidepressant vortioxetine. European journal of pharmacology753, 19-31.