Suffering from depression is more common than most people think. These previously stigmatized feelings are incredibly relatable, especially for teenagers today. Teenagers are exposed to bad experiences that previous generations did not experience, like frequent school shootings and an overload of social media.
For older generations, speaking about mental health struggles was deemed somewhat of a negative. Now, we can find strength and support when we open up and be honest with the people who love us.
How Can You Be Sure You’re Experiencing Depression?
The term depression is used broadly but there are different forms of depression that you may experience. Some examples of this could be seasonal affective disorder (SAD), where we feel sad during the colder and darker months. There is also bipolar disorder, in which your mood can change drastically from incredibly happy to incredibly sad with no warning.
Generally, there are some common symptoms that occur when you are depressed. Some of the most common include:
- Depressed Mood – This is a feeling of being sad or down. This feeling is more than having an occasional “bad day”. People who are depressed tend to feel sad most of the time even when there is no apparent reason for them to be down.
- Crying for No Apparent Reason – Many people who are depressed feel like they are always on the verge of tears. Sometimes they start crying for no apparent reason and have a hard time explaining to others why they are crying.
- Loss of Interest in Activities – Depression often causes people to lose interest in doing things that they typically enjoy. If you are depressed, you may find that you don’t enjoy hanging out with friends as much or that you quit participating in events or activities that you used to bring you joy.
- Sleep Disturbance – Depression disrupts your sleep. If you are depressed, you may find that you want to sleep all of the time or alternatively that you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. In either case, depression leaves you feeling like you haven’t slept enough.
- Feeling Exhausted – Depression drains your energy. When you are depressed, just getting out of bed in the morning may feel exhausting. With depression, it often feels like no matter what you do or how much rest you get, you still feel physically tired and emotionally depleted.
- Feeling Agitated Inside – People with depression often feel agitated on the inside. This is especially true for teenagers. This agitation may come out as anger or feeling irritated and annoyed with everyone around you.
- Isolation – People with depression often want to isolate and withdraw from the world. If you find that you are constantly wanting to avoid everyone, it could be because you are depressed.
- Changes in Appetite – People who get depressed often have a drastic change in their appetite. While some people lose their desire to eat, others start using food to try to cope with feelings of depression. As a result, someone who is depressed may lose a lot of weight or may conversely put on a lot of weight.
- Feeling Worthless – Depression causes you to feel like you are worthless. It often makes you feel like no one cares about you and that the world would be better off without you.
- Feeling Hopeless – Depression is like a dark cloud that hangs over you all of the time. It makes it hard to see the light and can make you feel like this feeling will never end.
- Increase in Physical Pain – Depression hurts. It is not unusual for someone with depression to complain that their whole body hurts.
- Suicidal Thoughts – Suicidal thoughts are a normal symptom of depression. In fact, the more depressed someone is, the more frequent and intense the thoughts of dying tend to be. It is essential to understand that the thoughts of dying are a symptom of depression and not a solution. With help, the depression will go away and thoughts of dying will go away with it.
If you are experiencing constant feelings of sadness or loss of interest in doing things that you normally enjoy, you are most likely experiencing depression of some kind. The good news is that help is available and that you can overcome your depression and get back to living a happier life.
It is Helpful to Remember that You are Not Alone
You might be surprised to realize that depression is common. In fact, some studies indicate that close to 10% of people experience depression at some point in their life and that around 17% of teenagers report having symptoms of depression. In other words, if you are feeling depressed, you are not alone.
Depression and anxiety are the two most common mental health issues that people struggle with. Fortunately, both issues are treatable conditions. You don’t have to suffer in silence with depression or anxiety. You can get help, but you first have to let someone know that you need help.
How to Talk with Your Parents or Loved Ones About Your Depression
Here are some practical steps to start the conversation with your parents about your feelings of depression.
- Pick a Time and Place Where You Can Talk – It is helpful to find a time and place where you can have your parent’s undivided attention. Find a place where you feel comfortable and where interruptions are less likely to occur.
- Start the Conversation With What You Need – Beginning the conversation is often the hardest part when it comes to expressing how you are feeling. For this reason, it is often useful to start the conversation with a phrase such as “I need help.” This lets your parents know that you are in crisis and that their assistance is needed.
- Explain Your Symptoms – Parents can sometimes misunderstand the struggles that you are going through. They may think that your feelings are temporary and that you will feel better “with a good night’s sleep.” As a result, it is often helpful to describe the symptoms you are having and why think it means you are depressed. Show them this article if you need help describing your symptoms.
- Talk About Your Feelings – It is important to remember that it is perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable or anxious about starting a conversation. Sometimes it feels abnormal to share what is happening inside our minds. Try to remember that this can only benefit you. Also, most often, the people we are choosing to share this with may already notice that something is wrong.
- Be Open to Questions – Your parents will most likely want to know more about what is going on for you. It is helpful to remember, that their questions are typically an attempt to understand your needs. While you may not be ready to open up about everything, it is often useful to give them some insight into your thoughts and feelings.
- Ask For Help – Remember that help is available. Ask your parents or loved ones for professional help. You don’t have to keep suffering. There are effective treatments available for depression.
- Write Your Parents or Loved Ones a Letter – If you are having trouble talking with your parents, try writing a letter to explain how you feel and what you need. Writing your thoughts down can be the first step in communicating what you need.
Why You Should Share Your Feelings
The mind processes both physical and emotional pain in nearly identical ways. When you break your arm, you experience excruciating pain that others can see as well. When you experience depression, you once again experience pain, but this time it’s internal. Because of this, it can be easy to rationalize that we are not actually suffering because of the invisibility of depression. This is simply not true. When you verbalize the pain you are experiencing inside, you provide those who love you the chance to acknowledge your struggles.
Another reason to share your feelings is that we sometimes have the ability to minimize our own needs. We can convince ourselves that we are undeserving of help or support. We can also convince ourselves that our suffering is not that serious when it may be incredibly serious. An example of this is the feeling of no longer wanting to live. We are potentially putting ourselves in harm’s way without sharing this feeling aloud.
Know that you are making the right choice by sharing your feelings with someone you trust. Your mental health is important. The support that parents, loved ones, or other concerned adults can provide is exactly what is needed when experiencing depression.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or other mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help. To learn more about our intensive outpatient treatment programs for adolescents and adults, contact us at 800-685-9796 or visit our website at www.nddtreatment.com. You can also learn about other mental health services at www.mhthrive.com.