What Are the Causes of Sadness in Teens?

The teen years are a time of increasing freedom and exploration. However, the changes to the teenage mind and body, and new pressures and responsibilities, might lead to sadness and unexpected shifts in mood. Frequent sadness might also be a symptom of psychological distress.


The teenage years are filled with changes. Bodies and minds change as do relationships and family dynamics. All of these changes can overwhelm a teenager and cause feelings of sadness. Although teenagers might seem to strive for more independence with approaching adulthood, they might also fear them. It is important to remain supportive as teenagers sort out the changes they are facing and adjust to their new bodies and a new sense of self.


Puberty brings changes to the mind and body that can cause sadness in some teens. The teenage years are characterized by a significant increase in sex hormones 1. Girls are subjected to increases in estrogen and progesterone. Teenage boys see a typical testosterone increase of 10 times the levels present before puberty. These hormonal shifts can cause emotional changes and turmoil.


Stress is a frequent source of sadness. Teens might face a tremendous amount of stress as they begin to carve out their place in the world. College and career decisions can be difficult and overwhelming. Teenagers often face pressure from parents, peers and even themselves to gain admittance to the school of choice. Conflicts with peers and parents can also be a consistent source of stress during the teen years. The newly found freedoms and responsibilities that come with being a teenager can also cause stress, sadness and loneliness. As decisions that were once made by parents and other caregivers become the responsibility of a teen, a sense of sadness and loss is a natural reaction.


It is not rare for a teenager to be sad. Unfortunately, sadness is quite common but it is important to ensure that frequent or intense sadness is not symptomatic of a deeper problem. Sadness can occasionally indicate depression. Some symptoms of depression include sadness, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, memory loss, fatigue, difficulty with concentration and decision-making, sleep disturbances and appetite changes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. It is critical that you seek professional help for a teen suffering from depression. A psychologist or psychiatrist should evaluate any teenager believed to be exhibiting signs of this serious illness.

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