The teenage years can be really tough and it’s perfectly normal to feel sad or irritable every now and then. But if these feelings don’t go away or become so intense that you feel overwhelmingly hopeless and helpless, you may be suffering from depression.
Teen depression is much more than feeling temporarily sad or down in the dumps. It’s a serious and debilitating mood disorder that can change the way you think, feel, and function in your daily life, causing problems at home, school, and in your social life. When you’re depressed, you may feel hopeless and isolated and it can seem like no one understands. But depression is far more common in teens than you may think. The increased academic pressures, social challenges, and hormonal changes of the teenage years mean that about one in five of us suffer from depression in our teens. You’re not alone and your depression is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw.
Even though it can feel like the black cloud of depression will never lift, there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself deal with symptoms, regain your balance and feel more positive, energetic, and hopeful again
Signs and symptoms of teen depression
It can be hard to put into words exactly how depression feels—and we don’t all experience it the same way. For some teens, depression is characterized by feelings of bleakness and despair. For others, it’s a persistent anger or agitation, or simply an overwhelming sense of “emptiness.” However depression affects you, though, there are some common symptoms that you may experience:
- You constantly feel irritable, sad, or angry.
- Nothing seems fun anymore—even the activities you used to love—and you just don’t see the point of forcing yourself to do them.
- You feel bad about yourself—worthless, guilty, or just “wrong” in some way.
- You’ve turned to alcohol or drugs to try to change the way you feel.
- You have frequent, unexplained headaches or other physical pains or problems.
- Anything and everything makes you cry.
- You’re extremely sensitive to criticism.
- You’ve gained or lost weight without consciously trying to.
- You’re having trouble concentrating, thinking straight, or remembering things. Your grades may be plummeting because of it.
- You feel helpless and hopeless.
- You’re thinking about death or suicide.
Coping with suicidal thoughts
If your negative feelings caused by depression become so overwhelming that you can’t see any solution besides harming yourself or others, you need to get help right away. Asking for help when you’re in the midst of such strong emotions can be really difficult, but it’s vital you reach out to someone you trust—a friend, family member, or teacher
If you don’t feel that you have anyone to talk to, or think that talking to a stranger might be easier, You’ll be able to speak in confidence to someone who understands what you’re going through and can help you deal with your feelings.