It’s not unusual to have the blues or feel down occasionally. The teen years can be unsettling time, full of change and growth. The expectations of your teachers, family and friends – and the fear of not meeting them can create stress and worry. When things go wrong at school or at home, you may feel unsure of your abilities or question how you fit. On top of that, you face choices about friendships, sex, alcohol and drugs. You may sense conflicting messages from parents, teachers, friends and society.
Everyone, teens and adults, should know the warning signs of depression and be ready to take action. If you experience any of the following symptoms for more than two weeks: withdrawal from friends, family and school activities; sadness and hopelessness, lack of enthusiasm, energy or motivation; anger and rage; overreaction to criticism; feelings of being unable to meet expectations, poor self-esteem or guilt; indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness; restlessness, agitation and irritability; changes in in eating or sleeping patterns, ; substance abuse problems; and thought s of suicide may indicate depression.
Many factors can contribute to depression. Studies show that the way the brain functions plays a role in depression. A family history of depression may increase the risk as well. Difficult life events such as death or divorce, side effects of some medications and negative thought patterns can also play a role.
Depression can take several forms, including bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depression), which is a condition highlighted by mood swings that may include periods of heightened energy or irritability and depression.
Sometimes, depression can be difficult to diagnose. People do not always understand or express their feelings and may not be aware of the symptoms of depression or the need to seek help.
When the symptoms go unrecognized, feelings of depression may be expressed by experimenting with drugs or alcohol, being sexually promiscuous or by exhibiting hostile, aggressive, risk taking behavior. But such behaviors only lead to new problems, deeper levels of depression and difficult relationships with friends, family, law enforcement or school officials.
It is extremely important that you receive prompt, professional treatment if you are depressed. Depression is serious and if left untreated, can worsen to the point of becoming life-threatening. Talking with a mental health professional can help you understand depression and how to cope with stress.
Some of the most common and effective way to treat depression in teens are: psychotherapy which provides an opportunity to explore events and feelings that are painful or troubling, and teaches coping skills. There are two type of psychotherapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps change negative patterns of thinking and behaving. Interpersonal therapy focuses on how to develop healthier relationships at home and at school.
Medications can relieve some symptoms of depression and may be prescribed along with therapy.
When you recognize the need for help, you have taken a major step toward recovery. Seek support and encouragement from your friends and concerned adults, talk with a mental health professional and follow treatment recommendations.