Mental Health

Depression

According to Mental Health America, one in every five teens has clinical depression. Teenagers are naturally moody at times so teenage depression is often overlooked. There is also a difference between serious depression and sadness.

All humans feel sadness – usually a reaction to an event or situation. Depression is much more than that. Depression is a long-term illness (at least two weeks) that often has no cause.

Symptoms of depression:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or hopeless
  • Loss of interest in old hobbies
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Anger and irritability
  • Insomnia (not sleeping enough) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
  • Extreme fatigue and loss of energy
  • Withdrawal from certain people – but not everyone
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Frequent crying
  • Substance abuse
  • Poor academic performance
  • Lack of concentration
  • Thoughts of death and suicide

Risk factors for depression:

  • Brain chemicals – too much or too little of certain chemicals can cause depression
  • Family history
  • Life events – death or divorce, etc
  • Some medications have negative side effects that cause depression

How can I feel better?

  • Maintain relationships with your family and friends, and talk to them about your feelings
  • Seek help if you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out – teachers, coaches, and doctors can help you
  • Ask your parents to schedule an appointment for you to talk with a therapist
  • Stay social – even when you really do not want to, staying social will help you feel better
  • Do not hang out with friends who are bad influences – friends who are drinking, doing drugs, or skipping school are not the people who will make you feel better
  • Physical exercise and a nutritious diet
  • Avoid drinking and drugs

What can I do to help a depressed friend?

  • Talk to your friend – say you notice he/she is not acting like themselves and ask how you can help
  • Be a good listener and do not judge
  • Encourage them to talk to an adult
  • Maintain the friendship even during the tough times that will follow
  • If you suspect your friend is suicidal tell an adult immediately

(references: KidsHealth, Suicide Prevention Research Center, Mental Health America, National Institute of Mental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)