Did you know that most teens with depression aren’t receiving any treatment for the condition?
There are a lot of reasons why teens aren’t getting the mental health treatments  they need and deserve. Some of it is a misunderstanding. After all, a lot of us grow up being told that getting the teenage blues is normal, and not necessarily a sign that there is a treatable condition that explains our moods.
Teens may not always feel comfortable talking about what they’re feeling and thinking – especially if they grow up somewhere where mental health struggle is stigmatized.
In some cases, teens might not get the help they deserve because they, or their families, don’t realize that depression doesn’t have to have a cause, and some people get depression even without an explainable reason – including endogenous depression.
Here’s what you need to know to about endogenous depression in teens . We’ll talk about what endogenous depression is, how it can be different than other forms of depression, and how it can be similar. We’ll also talk about treatment options for teens so you have somewhere to start if you suspect your teen has depression, or if they’ve been recently diagnosed with endogenous depression.
What Is Endogenous Depression?
First, lets talk about depression a little more generally, and then we’ll talk about endogenous depression specifically.
So, the first thing you need to know is that depression is relatively common among teens and that major societal events, like the Covid-19 pandemic, can increase the rate of depression among teens.
That means that right now, teens may be at greater risk of depression than they normally would be, and parents and communities should be aware of that risk.
The next thing you need to know is that there is more than one type of depression and that depression and other mental health disorders can sometimes look very similar from the outside. That’s why it’s so important, especially for teens, to get a professional diagnosis from a mental health care provider, not a general practitioner.
GP’s are great, but they don’t have the experience or specialized knowledge needed to make an accurate diagnosis of a lot of mental health problems, especially since teens often have slightly different symptoms and presentations of those disorders compared with adults.
Not all depression is endogenous depression, and not all endogenous depression is the same or will respond to a cookie-cutter treatment. That’s okay, but you should be prepared that finding the right treatment, especially for teens, can sometimes be complicated.
Now that you have a little more of a baseline for this conversation, let’s talk about what endogenous depression is.
First, the term endogenous depression is a little outdated, and it’s not an official diagnostic term. But it can still be a useful way of framing a conversation about depression, or for understanding depression as it exists in people.
Endogenous depression refers to depression that comes ‘from within’, which basically just means that there isn’t an obvious stressor or trauma that can explain why someone has become depressed
For a while, endogenous depression was considered different from exogenous depression , or depression with a clear external cause, but today depression and depression treatment are more focused on the symptoms rather than causes.
So, someone with endogenous depression is likely to be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, or MDD. People who previously would have been diagnosed with exogenous depression might now also have an MDD diagnosis, or they could be diagnosed with anxiety, or PTSD, or a range of other disorders. Actually, endogenous depression can turn out to be one of those other disorders too – depending on what symptoms people are experiencing.
Depression, including endogenous depression in teens, can be temporary or chronic. Clinical depression  of any type need to last at least two weeks to meet the criteria of a disorder, so just feeling sad for a few days isn’t necessarily an indication that a teen has depression.
It’s perfectly natural to be depressed as a response to certain circumstances or situations in life. That doesn’t always mean that a disorder is the cause, but sometimes those situations can trigger a more long-lasting depression.
One of the ways to understand endogenous depression is that it is depression which is caused by something in the body, like a chemical imbalance or poor nutrition, rather than depression which is caused by ongoing chronic stress.
No form of depression, endogenous or otherwise, is more or less valid than any other kind. Having endogenous depression, or depression without an obvious cause doesn’t mean that you or your teen are broken, that you are less than people who don’t have depression, or that your mental health challenges are any less valid than anyone else’s.
How Is Endogenous Depression Different For Other Forms Of Depression?
In short, it really isn’t. Your experience of depression is likely to be very similar regardless of whether you have an endogenous case of depression or an exogenous case.
That said, you may respond differently to treatments than someone who has identifiable causes of depression, or someone who needs stress management as much as other treatments of depression. Not everyone will need medication, and not everyone will need talk therapy, but many of the best approaches to treating endogenous depression can include both.
The other thing to remember is that your initial diagnosis and your final diagnosis may not be the same. Because depression can come and go in phases, or you and your care providers may realize that your symptoms indicate a different disorder, or a combination of disorders, it is very common for a mental health diagnosis to change over time.
Equally important, you’ll almost never start with a major depressive disorder diagnosis. Because MDD is one of the most long-lasting forms of depression, most people will start with another diagnosis and then, as their symptoms continue for a more prolonged period, it will become clear that they are dealing with MDD as opposed to seasonal depression or one of the other intermittent or temporary forms of the disorder.
What Are The Symptoms Of Endogenous Depression?
There are a lot of potential symptoms of endogenous depression, and it’s generally not just feeling low all or most of the time. Here are some of the common symptoms of endogenous depression we see in teens:
- Feeling consistently sad
- Feeling worthless
- Feeling empty
- Excess sleep
- Feeling slowed down
- Stomach aches, body aches, headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feeling paralyzed
- Appetite changes
- Changes in weight
- Difficulty remembering, or remembering events inaccurately
- Thoughts about death or dying
- Suicidal ideation or attempts
- Self-harm – or thinking about self-harm
There may be other symptoms of depression, and you don’t need to have all of these symptoms to have depression, and many of these symptoms may not be obvious from the outside.
One important thing to remember when it comes to depression in teens is that if your teen, or anyone else, tells you that they think they might be depressed – believe them. That way you’ll be much better able to explore what they are feeling, determine if treatment is called for, and find good treatment options that work for you and your teen.
Is Endogenous Depression In Teens Treatable?
Yes! It’s really common for teens with depression or another mental health disorder to feel like something is just inherently wrong with them. They might feel like other people don’t understand them and the way they feel, or like they are experiencing something unique and inescapable.
It’s important to honor those feeling, but also to remind your teen that while their experience of depression is unique, the disorder itself probably isn’t and can be treated.
All mental health disorders are treatable. The amount of relief people get from treatment can vary, and it can take time to find the right treatment options for your needs. But even the most intense and severe forms of teen depression are treatable, whether it’s endogenous depression or another mental health disorder.
Mental health is like physical health. You can have more challenges when it comes to mental health, you may need treatments and medications to make your symptoms easier to manage, but you aren’t less than because you have depression, just like you don’t matter less if you have a cold or even a chronic condition like diabetes.
Looking For A Little More Mental Health Support For Your Teen?
Being a teenager is hard enough. Being a teenager dealing with mental health struggles is even harder.
If you think your teen could benefit from more intensive mental health care and treatment, in a teen-centered space where the unique challenges facing teens are well understood, we can help.
BasePoint Academy specializes in mental health and substance use problems specifically in teens. Being a teenager is a pivotal point for a lot of people, but your body and brain aren’t the same as an adult’s body and brain, and teen mental health treatment should be designed with those differences in mind.
We can help your teen better understand themselves and what they are experiencing, and develop coping mechanisms specific to them and the challenges they are facing right now.
If you want to learn more about our mental health programs or schedule a complimentary assessment for your teen, contact BasePoint Academy. We’re here to help.
 American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Stress in America™ 2020: A national mental health crisis. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2020/report-october on 2023, February 23
 Brown, M. Psych Central. (2021, May 10). Teenage depression: Facts and statistics. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/depression/teenage-depression-facts#facts on 2023, February 23
 Schimelpfening, N. Verywell Mind. (2022, July 21). Differences of endogenous and exogenous depression. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-endogenous-depression-1067283 on 2023, February 23
 Schimelpfening, N. Verywell Mind. (2022, August 24). What is clinical depression? Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-clinical-depression-1067309 on 2023, February 23