Depression is more than just a bad mood.
While it is normal to feel discouraged and frustrated during adolescence, when we are depressed, we feel trapped in our own minds.
Depression in youth is more difficult to identify, because, as a teenager, you are already going through so many changes – and the social, academic and family pressures that teens go through can make a low mood seem justified.
If you are wondering if you might be experiencing depression, here are are 5 things to look for:
You feel lower than you have felt before, and the feelings are sticking around. Emotions such as guilt, anxiety, anger, hopelessness, loneliness, and shame are typical in depressed people. Unlike “bad moods,” which can come and go, these feelings persist beyond two weeks.
You feel numb. Many people who experience depression do not find their emotions to be intense – rather, they feel numb, flat and foggy. Their most noticeable depression symptoms are lack of motivation and no energy.
Your body feels different. You may experience headaches or general aches and pains that you can’t explain. You may feel tired all the time or have problems eating or sleeping. You may unexpectedly gain or lose weight.
Your thoughts are harsh. It seems like there is a running commentary in your head of self-criticism. You might find that you think negatively about many things and people. Additionally, you may have a hard time concentrating. Depressed people find themselves saying: “why bother?” and “what’s the point?” When things become really bad, you might even have suicidal thoughts.
Your behaviour has changed. You might be withdrawing from others, crying easily, or showing less interest in sports, games, or other fun activities that you normally enjoy. You might over-react and have sudden outbursts of anger or tears over minor issues.
Do any of these sound familiar? You’re not alone: at least one out of eight teenagers struggles with depression. Sometimes, the cause of depression is a mystery, while other times it can be linked to something going on in a teenager’s life. Family conflict, bullying, social politics, pressures in school and shame about sexual orientation are all known contributors to depression in youth.
Teens who struggle with depression can experience other serious problems, such as poor grades, skipping classes, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Depression is treatable. However, it might not go away on its own. When you feel helpless and powerless, keep in mind that these are a few things that you can do.
Ask for help!
Maybe you’re holding out to see if you start to feel better without any help. The fact is that an untreated episode of depression can stick around for months. Talk to an adult that you trust. A parent, a teacher, a school counsellor, coach, or your doctor. Tell them how you’ve been feeling, and let them know that you think you might be depressed. Depression can be treated, and treatment such as medication or counselling is often effective. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help right away. Suicidal thoughts are usually associated with problems that can be treated, believe it or not. Reach out to someone you trust to let them know that you need help – and if you don’t feel comfortable telling someone you know, you can always contact your local crisis centre.
Don’t believe everything you think. When we’re depressed, our thoughts are harsh. We call ourselves names (loser, failure, ugly, stupid…). We find faults in everyone and everything. These thoughts seem accurate, but in fact, depression distorts our perceptions. Thoughts ≠ truths.
Exercise. Any type of movement that gets your heart pumping can help your mood. Walking, dancing, really anything! If you’re finding it hard to motivate yourself, try the 5-minute experiment. Aim to exercise for 5 minutes! If you decide to prolong it, great – but if not, even 5 minutes is helpful! When we are feeling depressed, we sometimes assume that we are beyond help. If you feel this way, we encourage you to reach out. You are worth it!
September 15, 2017