Sure, everybody feels sad or blue now and then. But if you're sad most of the time, and it's giving you problems with your grades or attendance at school your relationships with your family and friends alcohol, drugs, or sex controlling your behavior in other ways. The problem may be depression.
How You Can Tell?
Here's how to tell if you or a friend might be depressed.
First, there are two kinds of depressive illness: the sad kind, called major depression, and manic-depression or bipolar disorder, when feeling down and depressed alternates with being speeded-up and sometimes reckless.
You should talk with someone and ask for help if you've had five or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks or if any of these symptoms cause such a big change that you can't keep up your usual routine.....
When You're Depressed...
- You feel sad or cry a lot and it doesn't go away.
- You feel guilty for no reason; you feel like you're no good; you've lost your confidence.
- Life seems meaningless or like nothing good is ever going to happen again. You have a negative attitude a lot of the time, or it seems like you have no feelings.
- You don't feel like doing a lot of the things you used to like - like music, sports, being with friends, going out - and you want to be left alone most of the time.
- It's hard to make up your mind. You forget lots of things, and it's hard to concentrate.
- You get irritated often. Little things make you lose your temper; you over-react.
- Your sleep pattern changes; you start sleeping a lot more or you have trouble falling asleep at night. Or you wake up really early most mornings and can't get back to sleep.
- Your eating pattern changes; you've lost your appetite or you eat a lot more.
- You feel restless and tired most of the time.
- You think about death, or feel like you're dying, or have thoughts about committing suicide.
When You're Manic...
- You feel high as a kite...like you're "on top of the world."
- You get unreal ideas about the great things you can do...things that you really can't do.
- Thoughts go racing through your head, you jump from one subject to another, and you talk a lot.
- You're a non-stop party, constantly running around.
- You do too many wild or risky things: with driving, with spending money, with sex, etc.
- You're so "up" that you don't need much sleep.
- You're rebellious or irritable and can't get along at home or school, or with your friends.
Talk to Someone
If you are concerned about depression in yourself or a friend, talk to someone about it. There are people who can help you get treatment:
- a trusted family member
- your family doctor
- your clergy
- a school counselor or nurse
- a social worker
- a responsible adult
- a professional at a mental health center or Mental Health Association
Why Do People Get Depressed?
Sometimes people get seriously depressed after something like a divorce in the family, major financial problems, someone you love dying, a messed up home life, or breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Other times - like with other illnesses - depression just happens. Often teenagers react to the pain of depression by getting into trouble: trouble with alcohol, drugs, or sex; trouble with school or bad grades; problems with family or friends. This is another reason why it's important to get treatment for depression before it leads to other trouble.
Depression is a real medical illness, and it's treatable.