Depression In Teens
Being a teenager can be tough and everyone does feel sad sometimes. Occasional sadness is normal but feeling hopeless and sad most of the time for a couple of weeks or longer is not normal. Depression in teenagers (ages 13-17) is serious and should not be overlooked.
Clinical depression is more than just a feeling of being sad or “blue” for a few days. It is an intense feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and anger or frustration that lasts much longer. Depression symptoms make it hard for teenagers to function normally and do their normal activities. If you are experiencing signs of depression, talk to a trusted adult, teacher, or medical professional about depression. There is help available and you do not have to suffer since depression is treatable.
Teenagers ask yourself the following questions to see if you might be experiencing depression:
- Do you often feel sad, anxious, worthless, or even “empty”?
- Have you lost interest in activities you used to enjoy?
- Do you get easily frustrated, irritable, or angry?
- Do you find yourself withdrawing from friends and family?
- Are your grades dropping?
- Have your eating or sleeping habits changed?
- Have you experienced any fatigue or memory loss?
- Have you thought about suicide or harming yourself?
If you answered yes to the above questions you must discuss these depression symptoms with a trusted adult, a school nurse, or a school counselor. It’s okay to talk about how you feel especially when you are not feeling well mentally or physically.
Depression Symptoms in Teenagers
Depression symptoms look different for everyone and not everyone will have all the signs and symptoms. You might be experiencing all or just a few depressive symptoms. The main thing is to identify that you are feeling this way and to seek help before your symptoms worsen.
The following are emotional changes that you might experience:
- Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason
- Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters
- Feeling hopeless or empty
- Irritable or annoyed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
- Loss of interest in, or conflict with, family and friends
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure, and the need for excessive reassurance
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak
- Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
The following are behavioral changes that you might be experiencing.
- Tiredness and loss of energy
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Changes in appetite — decreased appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Use of alcohol or drugs
- Agitation or restlessness — for example, pacing, hand wringing or an inability to sit still
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Frequent complaints of unexplained body aches and headaches, which may include frequent visits to the school nurse
- Social isolation
- Poor school performance or frequent absences from school
- Less attention to personal hygiene or appearance
- Angry outbursts, disruptive or risky behavior, or other acting-out behaviors
- Self-harm — for example, cutting or burning
- Making a suicide plan or a suicide attempt
How do I get help if I have depression?
Please, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to a trusted adult. If you are having symptoms that have lasted for more than two weeks contact a doctor, school counselor, school nurse, a trusted adult, or parent/guardian. All teenagers experience ups and downs however, if you find yourself struggling or managing your feelings with drugs or alcohol, or if life seems overwhelming, then seek help now at Sobair Professional Counseling and Life Coaching.
What Causes Me to Feel This Way?
Teenagers are at an increased risk of developing depression. Risk factors for developing depression include having problems that negatively impact self-esteem, self-confidence, peer pressure, fitting-in, bullying, or academic problems.
Other risk factors include experiencing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Puberty and hormonal changes may cause or trigger depressive symptoms. Everyone is unique and everyone has the potential to develop depression at any stage of their life. If you notice you are feeling down for long periods, please get help.
How To Prevent Depression in Teenagers?
There is no one way to prevent depression since everyone is different, however, if you follow these strategies and monitor your mood every day, you may be less likely to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. When you monitor your mood daily, you will notice when your mood is starting to change and quickly make efforts to get help before depressive symptoms become overwhelming.
Reduce or avoid stress: Avoid stressful situations and prepare ahead for events that might trigger a stress response. Some of these methods may prove helpful to reduce stress:
- getting enough sleep and rest
- learning to say “no” to additional demands
- taking breaks throughout your day
- practicing breathing exercises and meditation
- Talking about your feelings with trusted friends and adults
Exercise and move about. Maintaining an active lifestyle is good for your mental health.
Practice self-care: Check in within yourself every day. Notice how you feel and what type of things you are telling yourself. Do things that make you feel good. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break.
Notice your mood. If you notice changes in your mood or any other symptom of depression, get help immediately. This will keep depression symptoms from worsening. Do not suffer. Seek help because you matter.
Maintain a sleep routine. You need to sleep. Sleep helps you reset, rejuvenate, and recharge. Here are some tips that you can try to improve your sleep:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, including weekends.
- Try to ensure the room is quiet, dark, and of a comfortable temperature.
- Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before sleeping.
- Do physical exercise during the day.
- Remove electronic equipment from the sleeping area and switch off 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Get up again if you do not fall asleep within 20 minutes. Read or find some other distraction for a while, then try again.
- Follow a healthful diet.
- Avoid drinking too much fluid too close to bedtime.
- Limit exposure to bright light in the evening.
Do not use drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol are not helpful. Most teenagers (and adults) who use illicit substances, marijuana, and alcohol tend to experience negative consequences. Drugs and alcohol do not help depressive symptoms improve, actually they worsen the feelings and tend to cause more harm for the individual. Illicit drugs are highly addictive so, if you think you can use them a few times to help “ just this once”, you are mistaken. Keep it simple, just don’t start.
Avoid common triggers. Avoid or reduce exposure to some of these triggers that cause stress and depression symptoms. Stress triggers to avoid include: exposure to news, social media, or triggering shows or videos.
Professional mental health therapy. Mental health counseling can help. You do not have to have a formal diagnosis to talk to a mental health therapist. General counseling will help you stay in touch with yourself and your emotions. Start before there is a problem so you and your mental health counselor can work on issues in real time and not before your life has plummeted out of control.
You may not be able to avoid or completely prevent depression, however, effective treatment is available. Please, if you or someone you know is feeling depressed or thinking about self-harm, death, or suicide, seek immediate medical attention. Don’t wait!
If you or someone you know is at risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Don’t be afraid to ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to safely remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
Mental Health Counseling
Mental health counseling, or talking therapy, can help you identify the causes of depression and find practical solutions. Mental health counseling is highly effective in the treatment of depression.
- counseling for specific issues
- cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help a person find new ways of thinking and acting
- Talk therapy, which often looks into past issues or trauma
Therapy can be one-on-one, with a group of people who meet just for therapy, or with partners or family members. Learn more about mental health counseling here and contact a professional mental health counselor skilled in the treatment of depression in teenagers and adults.