Distinguishing teen angst from depression

Stumbled upon this article and found it very interesting…do you have difficulty trying to figure out if your child is just being a moody teen or actually needs more serious help?

Most parents struggle to distinguish teen angst from depression

I think this can be so difficult for anyone to 100% know or recognize. I can remember times that as a teen myself, I thought “my world was over, this was the worst thing ever, it’s never going to get better” etc. Was I depressed, or just being a moody teen? Even * I * didn’t know and still can’t say 20 years later. Life is complex.

As a mom to my own teen & tween now, the most important thing to me is to do my best to keep the lines of communication open and check in daily. I aim to build trust, ask open ended questions, and have meaningful shares and chats. Example: just last week, I asked how their day went, and I got the standard “fine, mom”. response. Had I have left it at that, I would have thought everything was fine. But I probed a bit deeper than that and actually uncovered an uncomfortable thing that had happened to them at school that day. We talked it over and were able to resolve it. They felt better afterwards. Showing that I cared and wanted to listen really opened some doors that went a long way. :slight_smile: I’m not sure that there is a perfect answer; all we can do is to try our best and love them hard. :yellow_heart:

ETA: I agree with another commenter; I do also offer other adults / resources to go to, no questions asked! I realize some may not want to come and talk to mom. Good point that I left out!


When in doubt, enlist a professional’s help if you feel it’s appropriate. Many employers have “EAP” plans and insurance plans that offer mental as well as physical health aspects that are often overlooked for individuals under 18.

We gave my daughter the option to talk to somebody besides us in a safe space about things that might be bothering her and it ended up being a solid choice for her. It was a short term thing, and she just has it as a “back burner” option now but for us a family just knowing it’s there has been great. Like the article says, having a “go to” adult that’s somebody safe to talk to is invaluable. And that’s sometimes hard to identify and establish for us as parents, to find somebody we trust with our kids. Especially in very small families or geographically spread out ones.

Honestly when I was a kid if I had more mental health resources available I would have taken advantage of them. But it was a different time.