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Health Information For Teens
It’s natural to feel sad, down, or discouraged at times. We all feel these human emotions, they’re reactions to the hassles and hurdles of life.
We may feel sad over an argument with a friend, a breakup, or a best friend moving out of town. We might be disappointed about doing poorly on a test or discouraged if our team can’t break its losing streak. The death of someone close can lead to a specific kind of sadness — grief.
Most of the time, people manage to deal with these feelings and get past them with a little time and care.
Depression is more than occasionally feeling blue, sad, or down in the dumps, though. Depression is a strong mood involving sadness, discouragement, despair, or hopelessness that lasts for weeks, months, or even longer.
Depression affects more than a person’s mood. It affects thinking, too. It interferes with the ability to notice or enjoy the good things in life. Depression drains the energy, motivation, and concentration a person needs for normal activities.
Here are some of the things people notice with depression:
Negative thinking. People with depression get stuck in negative thinking. This can make people focus on problems and faults. It can make things seem bleaker than they really are. Negative thinking can make a person believe things will never get better, that problems are too big to solve, that nothing can fix the situation, or that nothing matters.
Negative thinking can be self-critical, too. People may believe they are worthless and unlovable — even though that’s not true. That can lead people with depression to think about harming themselves or about ending their own life. Negative thinking can block our ability to see solutions or realize that a problem is actually temporary.
Poor concentration. Depression can make it hard to concentrate and focus. It might be hard to do schoolwork, pay attention in class, remember lessons, or stay focused on what others say.
Physical problems. Some people with depression have an upset stomach or loss of appetite. Some might gain or lose weight. People might notice headaches and sleeping problems when they’re depressed.
People with depression may not realize they are depressed. Because self-critical thinking is part of depression, some people might mistakenly think of themselves as a failure, a bad student, a quitter, a slacker, a loser, or a bad person.
Because depression can affect how a person acts, it might be misunderstood as a bad attitude. Other people may think the person isn’t trying or not putting in any effort. For example, a negative or irritable mood can cause someone to act more argumentative, disagreeable, or angry. That can make the person seem difficult to get along with or cause others to keep their distance. Low motivation, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of “why bother?” can lead someone to skip classes or school.
Some people with depression have other problems as well. These can intensify feelings of worthlessness or inner pain. For example, people who cut themselves or who have eating disorders or who go through extreme mood changes may have unrecognized depression.
When depression is recognized and treated, it often clears the way for other problems to get treated, too.
Depression can get better with the right attention and care — sometimes more easily than a person thinks. But if it’s not treated, things can stay bad or get worse. That’s why people who are depressed shouldn’t wait and hope it will go away on its own.
If you think you might be depressed, talk to a parent or other adult about getting the right help. The right help can mean doing all of these things:
A doctor can check for any health conditions that might cause symptoms of depression. For example, hypothyroidism can cause a depressed mood, low energy, and tiredness. Mono can make a person feel tired and depressed.
Having meetings with a counselor or therapist is called talk therapy. Talk therapy can help people overcome depression. Talk therapy works by helping people to:
Overcoming depression might include talk therapy, medication, or both. A therapist might also recommend daily exercise, exposure to daylight, or better ways of eating. A therapist might teach relaxation skills to help someone get a good night’s sleep.
Many people find that it helps to open up to parents or other adults they trust. Simply saying something like, “I’ve been feeling really down lately and I think I’m depressed” can be a good way to begin the discussion.
If a parent or family member can’t help, turn to your school counselor, school nurse, or a helpline.
Let friends and other people who care about you offer their support. They can:
Try these simple actions. They can have a powerful effect on mood and help with depression:
Focusing on positive emotions and being with positive people can help, too. Do yoga, dance, and find creative self-expression through art, music, or journaling. Daily exercise, meditation, daylight, and positive emotions all can affect the brain’s activity in ways that restore mood and well-being.
Depression can be treated if you take the right steps:
If you feel depressed, you need to reach out for help and support. Read our tips for teens on talking to parents about depression.
Getting help with emotions or stress is the same as getting help with a medical problem like asthma or diabetes. This article explains how therapy works and how it can help with problems.
Visit our stress and coping center for advice on how to handle stress, including different stressful situations.
Severe depression can cloud a person’s thinking and lead some people to think that life isn’t worth living. But severe depression can be treated. Find out what to do and how to get help in this article for teens.
There’s no one reason why people get depressed – many different things can play a role. Find out more about the things that can trigger depression.
If you need mental health care but don’t think you can afford it, you’re not alone. Get tips on finding low-cost or free mental health care in this article for teens.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects some people and appears at the same time each year.
It’s important to take action against depression – it doesn’t just go away on its own. In addition to getting professional help, here are 5 ways to feel better.
Sometimes after experiencing a traumatic event, a person has a strong and lingering reaction known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Getting treatment and support can make all the difference.
Bipolar disorders are one of several medical conditions called depressive disorders that affect the way a person’s brain functions. Find out more about bipolar disorder.
Have you heard that people who talk about suicide won’t go through with it? That’s not true. Read this article to learn some of the other warning signs that a person is considering suicide.
It can be hard to understand, but people who cut themselves sometimes do it because it actually makes them feel better. They are overflowing with emotions – like sadness, depression, or anger – that they have trouble expressing.
We all feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions or situations sometimes. Here are the warning signs of suicide and ways to get help.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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