Teenager’s Guide to Depression Tips and Tools for Helping Yourself or a Friend
The main points below were copied from the original article from authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.
Teenagers face an emotional roller coaster, some days they are happy and positive, other days they are sad, moody or angry, all of which are normal. But when the negative feelings become more intense, don’t go away and start to affect their daily life then the teenager maybe suffering from depression. The authors of this article explore ways how to help teens take control over their negative emotions and start feeling better right now. As teen depression become so common nowadays, it is important to first recognize the signs and symptoms.
- Constantly irritable, sad, or angry.
- Nothing seems fun anymore, you don’t enjoy the things you use to love to do and you don’t see the point of trying.
- Feeling bad about yourself—worthless, ugly, stupid, guilty, or just “wrong” in some way.
- Sleeping too much or not enough.
- Frequent, unexplained headaches or other physical problems.
- Starts using alcohol / drugs or hanging with a bad crowd
- Stops going to classes and afterschool activities.
- Anything and everything makes you cry.
- Gaining or losing weight without consciously trying to.
- Can’t concentrate. School grades are affected because of it.
- Feeling helpless and hopeless.
- Thinking about death or suicide.
For the last point, when you start thinking of harming yourself or others, you need to seek help right now! It’s alright to reach out to others (partners, family, friends) to discuss your feelings. If talking to a stranger is easier, there are local suicide prevention organizations and hotlines to call. You might find opening up to others difficult, and until you are ready to talk to someone here are some suggestions to keep in mind:
- There is ALWAYS another solution, even if you can’t see it right now.Problems are temporary and so are any emotions you are feeling right now. All these will pass no matter how hopeless you might feel.
- Having thoughts of hurting yourself or others does not make you a bad person.It is the depression that makes you think these negative emotions. Have the courage to seek help to overcome it.
- If your feelings are uncontrollable, tell yourself to wait 24 hours before you take any action.Allow yourself time to think things through and find a supportive person to talk to.
- If you’re afraid you can’t control yourself, make sure you are never alone.Even if you can’t share your feelings with others at least be with company or stay / hang out in public places.
Understanding the underlying cause of depression is important in finding ways to overcome it. The authors in this article affirms that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. Teenagers experience hormonal changes, identity issues and pressures at home or school that could lead to depression. Moreover, they are most likely to suffer from depression if they have a family history of depression or have experienced trauma such as loss of a parent or abuse (physical or emotional).
Risk factors that can trigger or exacerbate teen depression include:
- Serious illness, chronic pain, or physical disability
- Having other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, an eating disorder, learning disorder, or ADHD
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Academic or family problems
- Trauma from violence or abuse
- Recent stressful life experiences, such as parental divorce or the death of a loved one
- Coping with your sexual identity in an unsupportive environment
- Loneliness and lack of social support
Overcoming teen depression tip 1: Talk to an adult you trust
To take control of your depression, remember that none of it is your fault and the first step is having the courage to ask for help.
Parents may nag or get angry about your behavior but ultimately, they want what’s best for you. So, try to share your feelings with them and get them involved.
School exams, health concerns (pregnancy scare or drug problem), relationship problems, negative thoughts and chronic worrying are sources that causes stress and may lead to depression. Again, you can break the habit and regain control of your worrying mind by seeking for help.
Are you being bullied? You don’t deserve it and you don’t have to tackle it by yourself. Talk to your parents about what’s happening and if for any reason your parents aren’t the best persons to help, turn to another adult you trust (teacher, counselor, pastor, coach etc.) If you still feel that you can’t open up to anyone you know, perhaps turning to someone neutral can help such as hotlines, services and support groups. In any case, the first step to feeling better is to be able to accept your struggles, share them with someone you trust and proactively find solutions. The other person may not be able to give you the answers, but they are there to care and listen. Most importantly know, that you are not alone.
Tip 2: Try not to isolate yourself—it makes depression worse
Make a conscious effort to get out there to make yourself feel better.
- Spend time face-to-face with friends who make you feel good and avoid those who are bad influences.
- Cut back on online time.Find time for in-person contact to interact with friends.
- Get involved in activities you enjoy (or used to) e. sport, art, dance / music class, or an after-school club.
- Doing good and making a difference for others can help you overcome your own depression.
Tip 3: Keep your body healthy
These healthy lifestyle choices can do wonders for your mood.
- Get moving!Physical activity and exercise releases endorphins that triggers positive feelings and can make you instantly happier.
- Be smart about what you eat.Avoid junk food, refined carbs, and sugary snacks and choose plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for a quick boost.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.Not only will it make your depression worse, it can lead to addiction for which you will need special treatment on top of whatever you’re receiving for your depression.
- Aim for eight hours of sleep each night.Having a good night’s rest helps you wake up to a better mood and ready to face your problems.
Friends are a large influencer in a teenager’s life, so much so that they often find it easier to confide their feelings with friends rather than parents or other adults. Here are some tips for helping a depressed friend:
- Get your friend to talk to you.Be sensitive to their moods and ask if there’s anything you can do.
- Know that your friend doesn’t expect you to have the answers.Having you there listening, reassuring and responding in a non-judgmental manner is what your friend needs.
- Encourage your friend to get help.Offer to go along for support if it helps your friend make that decision.
- Stick with your friend through the hard times.Try not to take it personally if your friend says or does something hurtful. Remember they are having a difficult time and needs your support. Make sure to also have your own support of other friends and family members taking care of you.
- Speak up if your friend is suicidal.Better be safe and not take it lightly if your friend is joking or talking about suicide. Tell a trusted adult immediately and get them the help they need.
Original Article Link: