Depression: More Than Just a Rough Day
Everyone has rough days, and everyone has mood swings every once in a while. It happens, it’s a part of life. But there are some people who have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, because every single day sucks. There are some people who have such an overwhelming sense of sadness and anger that they can’t even get through everyday life.
Depression is a big deal. Being depressed doesn’t just mean you’re in a bad mood, or you’re upset about something that just happened. It is a serious problem that affects every aspect of your life: your social life, education, career, health. Everything.
Here are some signs and symptoms of depression:
- feelings of sadness/hopelessness/worthlessness
- irritability, anger, hostility
- tearfulness/frequent crying
- withdrawal from family/friends
- loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- changes in eating and sleeping habits
- restlessness and agitation
- lack of enthusiasm and motivation
- fatigue or lack of energy
- difficulty concentrating
- thoughts of death or suicide
High school is already tough enough for everybody as it is, but depression will make it ten times worse. Depression can lead to all kinds of problems, like:
- problems at school (grades, attendance)
- running away
- drug/alcohol abuse
- low self-esteem
- internet/video game addiction
- reckless behavior
When you have a child or friend who’s depressed, it’s hard to figure out how to approach it. You want to make sure do everything you can to get them help, but you don’t want to upset them or push them away. The first thing you should do is let them know that you’re there for them. Let them know that you will continue to support and stand by them no matter what happens, because you want to help. You’ll probably want to lecture them about everything that could go wrong and what needs to happen to prevent that, but don’t go there. Instead, just listen. Be patient, and let them tell you what’s wrong. Lecturing will only push them away.
Encourage them to start being social again. Suggest that they call up their friends and hang out for an evening, or take them out somewhere like to dinner or a movie. Also, encourage physical activity. Anything that gets them going and out of their room will make them feel a whole lot better.
Once you’ve gotten to a place where they recognize that something’s going on with them and you’ve talked about it, encourage them to get professional help. Go with them to a counselor or doctor who can suggest what steps need to be taken to get them back to their normal selves.
If YOU are the one who’s depressed, here’s what you can do:
- Try not to isolate yourself from friends and family. Keeping good, healthy relationships will keep you strong and make you feel more hopeful when times get tough. Talk to your friends and family about what’s going on and the emotions you’re having. They love you and want to help you.
- Keep your body healthy. When you’re feeling depressed, it’s easy to lock yourself in front of the TV or computer with a bunch of junk food. In fact, that’s probably all you feel like doing. Fight that urge to be lazy and get moving! Go for a walk or run when you’re feeling down. Just a quick 10-15 minute jog will help you feel so much better. And make sure to eat your fruits and veggies… seriously, junk food will only make you feel worse.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Nothing good ever comes from these, especially when you’re upset. While you might think drugs and alcohol will make your pain go away, they will only make everything worse. They could cause you to get violent and do something you’ll regret. You might rely on them so much that you end up getting addicted. You might even overdose. Just don’t go there.
- If you’re starting to feel stressed, sad, or angry for an unusually long period of time, get help. Talk to a friend, parent, teacher or counselor about it, and they can help you. Nobody should have to go through anything like that alone.
Studies show that only 1/5 depressed teens get help. Look for the symptoms, and be the one to help a teen in need.