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Dealing with Teen Depression

No matter how despondent life seems right now, there are many things you can do to start feeling better today. What is teen depression?
Dealing with Teen Depression
No matter how despondent life seems right now, there are many things you can do to start feeling better today.

What is teen depression?


The teenage years can be really tough and it’s perfectly normal to feel sad or irritable every now and then. But if these feelings don’t go away or become so intense that you feel overwhelmingly hopeless and helpless, you may be suffering from depression.

Teen depression is much more than feeling temporarily sad or down in the dumps. It’s a serious and debilitating mood disorder that can change the way you think, feel, and function in your daily life, causing problems at home, school, and in your social life. When you’re depressed, you may feel hopeless and isolated and it can seem like no one understands. But depression is far more common in teens than you may think. The increased academic pressures, social challenges, and hormonal changes of the teenage years mean that about one in five of us suffer with depression in our teens. You’re not alone and your depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw.

Even though it can feel like the black cloud of depression will never lift, there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself deal with symptoms, regain your balance and feel more positive, energetic, and hopeful again.

If your negative feelings caused by depression become so overwhelming that you can’t see any solution besides harming yourself or others, you need to get help right away. Asking for help when you’re in the midst of such strong emotions can be really difficult, but it’s vital you reach out to someone you trust—a friend, family member, or teacher, for example. If you don’t feel that you have anyone to talk to, or think that talking to a stranger might be easier, call a suicide helpline. You’ll be able to speak in confidence to someone who understands what you’re going through and can help you deal with your feelings.

Whatever your situation, it takes real courage to face death and step back from the brink. You can use that courage to help you keep going and overcome depression.
There is ALWAYS another solution, even if you can’t see it right now. Many people who have survived a suicide attempt say that they did it because they mistakenly felt there was no other solution to a problem they were experiencing. At the time, they couldn’t see another way out, but in truth, they didn’t really want to die. Remember that no matter how badly you feel, these emotions will pass.

Having thoughts of hurting yourself or others does not make you a bad person. Depression can make you think and feel things that are out of character. No one should judge you or condemn you for these feelings if you are brave enough to talk about them.

If your feelings are uncontrollable, tell yourself to wait 24 hours before you take any action. This can give you time to really think things through and give yourself some distance from the strong emotions that are plaguing you. During this 24-hour period, try to talk to someone—anyone—as long as they are not another suicidal or depressed person. Call a hotline or talk to a friend. What do you have to lose?
If you’re afraid you can’t control yourself, make sure you are never alone. Even if you can’t verbalize your feelings, just stay in public places, hang out with friends or family members, or go to a movie—anything to keep from being by yourself and in danger

Why am I depressed?

Despite what you may have been told, depression is not simply caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be cured with medication. Rather, depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. Since the teenage years can be a time of great turmoil and uncertainty, you’re likely facing a host of pressures that could contribute to your depression symptoms. These can range from hormonal changes to problems at home or school or questions about who you are and where you fit in.

As a teen, you’re more likely to suffer from depression if you have a family history of depression or have experienced early childhood trauma, such as the loss of a parent or physical or emotional abuse. Teens typically rely on their friends more than their parents or other adults, so you may find yourself in the position of being the first—or only—person that your depressed friend confides in. While this might seem like a huge responsibility, there are many things you can do to help:
Get your friend to talk to you. Starting a conversation about depression can be daunting, but you can say something simple: “You seem like you are really down, and not yourself. I really want to help you. Is there anything I can do?”

You don’t need to have the answers. Your friend just needs someone to listen and be supportive. By listening and responding in a non-judgmental and reassuring manner, you are helping in a major way. Encourage your friend to get help. Urge your depressed friend to talk to a parent, teacher, or counselor. It might be scary for your friend to admit to an authority figure that they have a problem. Having you there might help, so offer to go along for support.

Stick with your friend through the hard times. Depression can make people do and say things that are hurtful or strange. But your friend is going through a very difficult time, so try not to take it personally. Once your friend gets help, they will go back to being the person you know and love. In the meantime, make sure you have other friends or family taking care of you. Your feelings are important and need to be respected, too. Speak up if your friend is suicidal. If your friend is joking or talking about suicide, giving possessions away, or saying goodbye, tell a trusted adult immediately. Your only responsibility at this point is to get your friend help and get it fast. Even if you promised not to tell, your friend needs your help. It’s better to have a friend who is temporarily angry at you than one who is no longer alive.


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