During the past month, did you often feel very sad or down as though you had nothing to look forward to?
Research has indicated that the decline in mental health and increase in behavioral problems during adolescence are occurring partly because youth experience massive life changes during the period of adolescence. These problems include negative images of self, depression, delinquency, and substance use. Depression or depression-like symptoms are serious problems that impact every aspects of an adolescent’s life. Left untreated, depression can lead to problems at home and school, drug or alcohol abuse, and even irreversible tragedy such as homicidal violence or suicide.
Symptoms of depression often go unnoticed, and adolescents with major depression are likely to identify themselves as depressed before their parents suspect a problem. Adolescent depression is fairly common. Population studies show that at any point in time, 10-15% of children and adolescents have some symptoms of depression. Depression is treatable and while some depression-like symptoms are expected as teenagers adapt to the challenges of growing older, dramatic long-lasting changes in personality, mood, and behavior are signs of a deeper problem.
Try these messages with youth:
– “It is completely normal to feel sad, down, or lonely. We all feel this way from time to time. However, sometimes you may need a little help to feel better. Depression is more than sometimes feeling blue or sad. It often lasts for weeks, months or even longer. If you feel sad or down for longer than 2 weeks, tell an adult you trust. Never be ashamed of how you are feeling or afraid to ask for help. Depression doesn’t always go away by itself.”
– Here are some ways to help you begin to feel more like yourself:
- – Talk with a mental health care professional
- – Exercise
- – Eat healthy
- – Listen to music
- – Journal to help you express your feelings
- – Talk with a trusted adult or friend
- – Go out and do activities you enjoy
- – Sometimes medications are needed to help you feel better
– “Don’t get discouraged; it takes time to work through depressed feelings but you can get through it. Remember that you are not alone. There are people out there who care about you and want to help!”
Resources for youth:
– CopeCareDeal is a mental health website for teens.
– TeensHealth is a safe, private place for teens who need honest, accurate information and advice about health, emotions and life. View TeensHealth’s depression information for teens.