of Teen Depression
"I knew there was something
wrong - that if I was taller, or had different color hair,
or was more popular then I'd be happy. But the problem was
inside me. I didn't like myself and I didn't know why."
- Anonymous Teen
basic criteria for depression - sleep changes, eating changes,
lack of concentration - match in both children and adults, certain
aspects stand out in youth. Young people have a hard time coping
with everyday activities and responsibilities, difficulty in
getting along with others, and/or suffer from low self-esteem.
school or poor school performance
in eating and sleeping habits
from friends and activities once enjoyed
sadness and hopelessness
lack of concentration or forgetfulness
self-esteem or guilt
physical complaints such as headaches or stomachaches
of enthusiasm, low energy, or motivation
and/or alcohol abuse
of death or suicide
young people who exhibit additional symptoms such as insomnia,
panic attacks, and delusions or hallucinations, are at particular
risk for suicide. If you have had several of these symptoms,
and they've lasted several weeks, or cause a big change in your
routine, you should talk to someone who can help, like a psychologist,
or your school counselor!
"Sadness is a part of it,
but you can be sad without being depressed. Depression is
deeper and more encompassing."
- Judith Belushi
is a whole body illness. Clinical
Depression is a serious illness that can affect anybody, including
teenagers. It can affect your thoughts, feelings, behavior, and
overall health. It affects mood, thought, body,
and behavior. It has medical causes just as heart disease and
skin cancer do. And just like heart disease or skin cancer, depression
won't go away by itself-it is not something you can just "get
over". Depression is not a sign of personal weakness. Nor does
a person have to feel suicidal to be depressed. Research shows
that one in ten people in the United States suffer from depression,
however nearly two thirds do not get help or treatment because
- are not
- are blamed
on personal weakness
- are so
disabling that the people affected cannot reach out for help
- are misdiagnosed
and wrongly treated as medical problems.
depression isn't treated, it can get worse, last longer, and prevent
you from getting the most out of your life. Remember, you're only
a teenager once. With diagnosis and treatment, over 80% of
those suffering from depressive illness can feel better, most
within a matter of weeks.
"I'm real open about it
because I don't see it as any fault. I compare it to diabetes.
You're not embarrassed about having diabetes. It's like being
right or left-handed."
is common. It affects all age groups and all racial and ethnic
groups. It affects the rich and poor, old and young, college professor,
data processor and auto mechanic alike.
because depression is common, doesn't mean it's normal. It is
not a part of being an adolescent. It does not come part and parcel
with being a woman. Depression is not and never has been a normal
part of the aging process for men or women. It can - and should
- be treated.
4 out of 100 teenagers get seriously depressed each year.
Sure, everybody feels sad or blue now and then. But if you're
sad most of the time, and it's giving you problems with:
- your grades
- your relationships
with your family and friends
drugs, or sex
your behavior in other ways
the problem may be - DEPRESSION
good news is.... you can get treatment and FEEL BETTER SOON
can kill you, yet this is a treatable condition. It's treatable
and yet two-thirds of cases aren't even diagnosed. That's
- physician A.
is one of the most readily treatable illnesses. The most commonly
used treatments are antidepressant medication and psychotherapy,
or talk therapy. If you think you're depressed... TALK TO SOMEONE!
are concerned about depression in yourself or a friend, TALK TO
SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP. There are many people who you can talk to:
- a psychologist
parents, or a trusted family member
- a professional
at a mental health center
- Depression can affect people of any age, race, ethnic, or economic
doesn't mean that a person is weak, or a failure, or isn't really
trying... it means they need TREATMENT.
with depression can be helped with COUNSELING, provided by a professional
psychologist, and some are helped with Counseling and Medicine.
or psychotherapy, means talking about feelings with a trained
psychologist who can help you change the relationships, thoughts,
or behaviors that are causing the depression. Think about it,
you feel depressed becasue you think your life is bad. What
if you're wrong? What if you're missing all the good things around
you? What if your future holds a lot more promise than you think?
When you're depressed, you're in a rut, and you can't see anything
good. You need to talk to someone who can help you get out of
that rut! Don't wait, ask your parents, or your school counselor
for help today.
used to treat depression that is severe or disabling. Antidepressant
medications are not "uppers" and are not addictive.
When depression is so bad that you can't focus on anything else,
when it interferes with your life in an overwhelming way, medication
might be necessary, in addition to counseling. But most often,
counseling alone is sufficient.
most depressed people start to feel better in just a few weeks.
when your problems seem too big and you're feeling low for too
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
out there and you CAN ask for help. And if you know someone who
you think is depressed, YOU CAN HELP. Listen and encourage your
friend to ask a parent or a responsible adult about treatment.
If you friend doesn't ask for help soon, talk to an adult you
trust and respect-- especially if your friend mentions suicide.
Your friend's life is more important than keeping a secret!
"I have secluded myself
from society; and yet I nver meant any such thing. I have made
a captive of myself and put me into a dungeon, and now I cannot
find he key to let myself out."
who are depressed do not commit suicide. But depression increases
the risk for suicide or suicide attempts. It is NOT true that
people who talk about suicide do not attempt it. Suicidal thoughts,
remarks, or attempts are ALWAYS SERIOUS... if any of these happen
to you or a friend, you must tell a responsible adult IMMEDIATELY
....it's better to be safe than sorry.
Drugs and Depression
A lot of
depressed people, especially teenagers, also have problems with
alcohol or other drugs. (Alcohol is a drug, too.) Sometimes the
depression comes first and people try drugs as a way to escape
it. (In the long run, drugs or alcohol just make things worse.)
Other times, the alcohol or other drug use comes first, and depression
is caused by :
- the drug
from it, or
- the problems
that substance abuse causes.
you can't tell which came first... the important point is that
when you have both of these problems, the sooner you get treatment,
the better. Either problems can make the other worse and lead
to bigger trouble, like addiction or flunking school. You have
to be honest about both problems-- first with yourself and then
with someone who can help you get into treatment... it's the only
way to really get better and stay better.
YOU CAN HELP YOURSELF,
OR A FAMILY MEMBER,
OR A FRIEND
FIND TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION.
DO IT NOW!
prevent people from doing the right thing. Some common myths about
- MYTH: It's
normal for teenagers to be moody; Teens don't suffer from "real"
FACT: Depression is more than just being moody. And it can affect
people at any age, including teenagers.
- MYTH: Telling
an adult that a friend might be depressed is betraying a trust.
If someone wants help, he or she will get it.
FACT: Depression, which saps energy and self-esteem, interferes
with a person's ability or wish to get help. It is an act of
true friendship to share your concerns with an adult who can
help. No matter what you "promised" to keep secret,
your friend's life is more important than a promise.
- MYTH: Talking
about depression only makes it worse.
FACT: Talking about your feelings to someone who can help, like
a psychologist, is the first step
towards beating depression. Talking to a close friend can also
provide you with the support and encouragement you need to talk
to your parents or school counselor about getting evaluated