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Let's Talk About
A Guide For Adolescents
feels sad or blue now and then. But if you're sad most of the time, and it's
giving you problems with
- your grades
or attendance at school
- your relationships
with your family and friends
- alcohol, drugs,
your behavior in other ways
the problem may
The good news
is that you can get treatment and feel better soon. Approximately 4% of adolescents
get seriously depressed each year. Clinical depression is a serious illness
that can affect anybody, including teenagers. It can affect your thoughts,
feelings, behavior, and overall health.
Most people with
depression can be helped with treatment. But a majority of depressed people
never get the help they need. And, when depression isn't treated, it can get
worse, last longer, and prevent you from getting the most out of this important
time in your life.
Here's how to
tell if you or a friend might be depressed.
are two kinds of depressive illness: the sad kind, called major depression,
and manic-depression or bipolar disorder, when feeling down and depressed
alternates with being speeded-up and sometimes reckless.
You should get
evaluated by a professional if you've had five or more of the following symptoms
for more than two weeks or if any of these symptoms cause such a big change
that you can't keep up your usual routine.....
- You feel sad
or cry a lot and it doesn't go away.
- You feel guilty
for no reason; you feel like you're no good; you've lost your confidence.
- Life seems
meaningless or like nothing good is ever going to happen again.
- You have
a negative attitude a lot of the time, or it seems like you have no feelings.
- You don't
feel like doing a lot of the things you used to like - like music, sports,
being with friends, going out - and you want to be left alone most of the
- It's hard
to make up your mind.
- You forget
lots of things, and it's hard to concentrate.
- You get irritated
often. Little things make you lose your temper; you over-react.
- Your sleep
pattern changes; you start sleeping a lot more or you have trouble falling
asleep at night. Or you wake up really early most mornings and can't get
back to sleep.
- Your eating
pattern changes; you've lost your appetite or you eat a lot more.
- You feel restless
and tired most of the time.
- You think
about death, or feel like you're dying, or have thoughts about committing
- You're rebellious
or irritable and can't get along at home or school, or with your friends.
- You feel high
as a kite...like you're "on top of the world."
- You get unreal
ideas about the great things you can do...things that you really can't do.
- Thoughts go
racing through your head, you jump from one subject to another, and you
talk a lot.
- You're a non-stop
party, constantly running around.
- You do too
many wild or risky things: with driving, with spending money, with sex,
- You're so
"up" that you don't need much sleep.
Talk to Someone
If you are concerned
about depression in yourself or a friend, TALK TO SOMEONE about it. There
are people who can help you get treatment:
- a professional
at a mental health center or Mental Health Association
- a trusted
- your family
- your clergy
- a school counselor
- a social worker
- a responsible
Or, if you don't
know where to turn, the telephone directory or information operator should
have phone numbers for a local hotline or mental health services or referrals.
affect people of any age, race, ethnic or economic group.
doesn't mean that a person is weak, or a failure, or isn't really trying...it
means they need treatment.
Most people with
depression can be helped with psychotherapy, medicine, or both together.
means talking about feelings with a trained professional who can help you
change the relationships, thoughts, or behaviors that contribute to depression.
been developed that effectively treats depression that is severe or disabling.
Antidepressant medications are not "uppers" and are not addictive.
types may have to be tried before you and your doctor find the one that works
help most depressed people start to feel better in just a few weeks.
when your problems seem too big and you're feeling low for too long, YOU ARE
NOT ALONE. There's help out there and you can ask for help. And if you know
someone who you think is depressed, you can help: Listen and encourage your
friend to ask a parent or responsible adult about treatment. If your friend
doesn't ask for help soon, talk to an adult you trust and respect -- especially
if your friend mentions suicide.
What You Need
to Know About Suicide...
Most people who
are depressed do not commit suicide. But depression increases the risk for
suicide or suicide attempts. It is not true that people who talk about suicide
do not attempt it. Suicidal thoughts, remarks, or attempts are ALWAYS SERIOUS...if
any of these happen to you or a friend, you must tell a responsible adult
IMMEDIATELY...it's better to be safe than sorry....
Why Do People
get seriously depressed after something like a divorce in the family, major
financial problems, someone you love dying, a messed up home life, or breaking
up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Other times -
like with other illnesses - depression just happens. Often teenagers react
to the pain of depression by getting into trouble: trouble with alcohol, drugs,
or sex; trouble with school or bad grades; problems with family or friends.
This is another reason why it's important to get treatment for depression
before it leads to other trouble.
and Alcohol and Other Drugs
A lot of depressed
people, especially teenagers, also have problems with alcohol or other drugs.
(Alcohol is a drug, too.) Sometimes the depression comes first and people
try drugs as a way to escape it. (In the long run, drugs or alcohol just make
things worse!) Other times, the alcohol or other drug use comes first, and
depression is caused by:
- the drug itself,
from it, or
- the problems
that substance use causes.
you can't tell which came first...the important point is that when you have
both of these problems, the sooner you get treatment, the better.
can make the other worse and lead to bigger trouble, like addiction or flunking
school. You need to be honest about both problems -- first with yourself and
then with someone who can help you get into treatment...it's the only way
to really get better and stay better.
a real medical illness and it's treatable.
Be Able to
Tell Fact From Fiction:
Myths about depression
often prevent people from doing the right thing. Some common myths are:
Myth: It's normal
for teenagers to be moody; teens dont suffer from real depression. FACT: Depression
is more than just being moody, and it can affect people at any age, including
an adult that a friend might be depressed is betraying a trust. If someone
wants help, he or she will get it. FACT: Depression, which saps energy and
self-esteem, interferes with a person's ability or wish to get help. It is
an act of true friendship to share your concerns with an adult who can help.
about depression only makes it worse. FACT: Talking through feelings with
a good friend is often a helpful first step. Friendship, concern, and support
can provide the encouragement to talk to a parent or other trusted adult about
getting evaluated for depression.
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information on this site is educational in context and is not to be used to
diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Please consult your licensed health care
practitioner before using this or any healthcare or medical information.