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Real Talk: Depression

Most of the unusual behavior that teenagers exhibit is brushed off as teenage rebellion and moodiness. Although this can be true, certain patterns of repetitive behavior may be underlying signs of depression. According to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 13 percent of the people between the ages of 12 to 17 in the United States have had at least one major depressive episode. This makes up about 3.2 million teenagers. Since normal behavior varies from teen to teen, it can be a challenge to recognize whether they are just going through a temporary phase or showing signs of depression. However, there are some warning signs that predict depression. It is important to seek help, if you or someone you know may be experiencing symptoms of depression. Talking to someone may feel uncomfortable or scary, but it is the best thing to do.

Signs of Depression in Teens

  • A consistently pessimistic state of mind.

  • Increase in angry outbursts.

  • Consistently irritable or hostile behavior.

  • Feelings of being misunderstood by everyone.

  • Consistent feelings of sadness, with or without a reason.

  • Lack of interest in extracurricular activities, hobbies.

  • Often wanting to be alone.

  • Constant sulking.

  • Extreme sensitivity toward criticism and taking things personally.

  • Difficulty concentrating or maintaining focus.

  • Indulging in high-risk behaviors (using drugs, drinking, reckless driving, arguing with authority figures, etc.)

  • Loss of motivation to do activities that were previously enjoyable.

  • Lack of interest in self-care or looking presentable.

  • Aches and pains without a reason ( headaches, bellyaches, back pains, etc.)

  • A sudden drop in grades or attendance.

  • Refusal to do homework or chores.

  • Change in sleeping patterns (trouble falling or staying asleep, getting out of bed, etc.)

  • Change in appetite (eating less or more than usual).

  • Sudden increase or decrease in weight.

  • Spending significantly lesser time interacting with friends and family.

  • Suicidal or self-harming thoughts.

  • Actually self-harming.

How to Get Help?

If you (or someone you know) are experiencing some of the above symptoms, chances are that you are suffering from depression. This can be a difficult situation to share with others or cope with. However, it is important to:

  • acknowledge that there is a problem. These feelings that you or someone you know are experiencing aren’t your (or their) fault, but they absolutely need to be addressed.

  • Talk to someone you trust. This could be a parent, friend, teacher, school counselor, relative, doctor, or any other adult who you can be honest with. These people will help you get the support you need. If you don’t feel you have anyone to talk to, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-888-290-7233. They are always willing to help, and you don't need to be suicidal to call.

Asking for help is a brave thing to do. It is okay to talk to someone, even if you think you have nothing to be depressed about. Depression doesn’t always have a trigger. You deserve to feel better, and thankfully, there is plenty of help available.



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