July 2018 – Teen Depression

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 some 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.  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 the teenagers life.  Family conflict, bullying, social politics, pressures in school and shame are all known contributors to depression in youth.

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!
Talk to an adult that you trust.  A parent, teacher, a school counsellor, coach, or your doctor.

Don’t believe everything you think
When we’re depressed, our thinking can be quite distorted.  These thoughts seem accurate, but in fact, depression distorts our perceptions and fuels negative self-talk.

Exercise
Any type of movement that gets your heart pumping can help your mood.  Walking, dancing, really anything!  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!

From: Drugs & Addiction Magazine 2017