Grades, parents, hormones, social media, the news, dating, friend drama, trying to figure out who you are and who you want to be… whoever said: “youth is wasted on the young” obviously forgot how completely, mind-numbingly century. You’re dealing with a lot, and if you’ve found yourself on this page because you’re not sure how to cope, you’re in the right place.
What to Know About Depression in Teens
Signs of Depression in Teens
If you’ve been feeling stressed and exhausted lately, to the point that you’ve lost interest in things that you used to enjoy, it may be that you’re dealing with some form of depression. If you’ve been feeling hopeless, worthless, and can’t think of a reason to keep going, you’re definitely in the midst of a depressive episode. If you’re at rock bottom, and you need immediate help, don’t worry about reading all the way to the bottom. You can get help here at TheHopeLine, or you can reach out to this Lifeline right now. If you’re able to keep reading, let’s talk about depression for a moment.
It’s Not Just “Teen Angst”
Young adults are too often dismissed when they try to express unhappiness. Our parents and teachers laugh our feelings off as “hormone attacks” or “teenage drama,” so how do you know if you’re actually dealing with depression? First, it’s pretty normal to feel down for a day or two when something doesn’t go your way, but if you’re so sad that you can’t get out of bed, the feeling lasts for weeks instead of days, or you can’t even pinpoint a real reason for feeling so low, that’s when you should talk to your doctor about whether you’ve crossed over into depression territory.
It can be tough to have that conversation with your doctor, though, because usually that means you have to talk to a parent first. If you need help approaching your parents about your mental health, you can reach out to TheHopeLine or ask a counselor or teacher at school to help you figure out what to say to them and help them understand why you want to see your doctor. Without an official diagnosis, it’ll be tough to figure out exactly what kind of depression you’re dealing with. You never want to self-diagnose or self-medicate, because depending on the specifics of your diagnosis, your doctor may recommend different treatments.
So You’ve Been Diagnosed With the Big Sad?
First of all, welcome to the club. It’s not a very happy club… get it…? Cuz we’re all depressed…? But seriously, welcome, because it is a very supportive club. Get yourself over to the social medias and start following TikTok and Insta accounts like @skettsa and @strugglecare, where short and compassionate reels offer advice from a “Life Hacks for the Big Sad” series to simple advice about how to go easy on yourself when you can’t get out of bed, let alone wash your face. The best part about accounts like these is that, in the comments, you’ll find loads of people just like you, who are battling depression, but are never alone! We’re erasing the negative stigmas and secrecy that surround depression, one TikTok at a time.
Filling your life with media sources that are compassionate and supportive of people who struggle with their mental health is so important, because we all know that when depression hits hard, you can’t do much. You probably tend to isolate and wind up on the couch in your favorite hoodie, doom scrolling through whatever app was already open. When you proactively follow accounts that will send positive, hopeful messages to your poor, sad brain, you’re protecting yourself from getting stuck in an endless cycle of bad news and pictures of your ex. If you’re going to be stuck on Instagram, you might as well find a little encouragement and community there while you’re at it.
Social media hygiene is just one way of setting yourself up for success during future depressive episodes, and even before you’ve had an official diagnosis of depression, there are a number of other things you can be doing to help yourself, mind and body, through this tough time.
Being Kind to Yourself
Negative self-talk is often one of the hardest parts of battling depression. We might feel frustrated with ourselves or assume we’re weak for not feeling happy like “normal” people, or perhaps we feel guilty because we don’t want to stress out our friends or be a burden on our family. You wish you were stronger, more resilient, less sensitive, etc. But what would you say to your best friend or younger sibling if they were feeling depressed? Would you dare call them weak, a burden, or tell them to buck up and act happy? No! You’d make them some soup, invite them on a walk, and send them funny YouTube compilations until they felt better. Right? You deserve that same kind of care when you’re depressed.
Along those lines, if you had a child who was sick, would you let them eat garbage, isolate themselves from all humanity, and deny them medical care for their problem? Hope not! That would be abusive… are you doing those things to yourself? While none of these things are cures for depression on their own, eating healthily, regular exercise, the right amount of sleep, consistent check-ins with a doctor and counselor, and keeping in touch with your friends, family, and support groups are all practices you need and deserve when you’re depressed. Be as kind to yourself as you would to someone else, and seek out the care you need.
The Next Right Thing
What good is all this advice, though, if you’re too tired, overwhelmed, or numb to do anything about it? Depression, by its very nature, makes it difficult for us to initiate tasks. In that case, we suggest you choose one thing. Just one. What one healthy thing can you do in the next two minutes? Drink a glass of water? Great. Do that. Take a nap? Great. Do it. Reach out to TheHopeLine? Great. Do it.
When depression gets to be too much, let go of all the extras, and simply focus on the next right thing.
If you don’t feel like you can even pick one thing, here’s our top suggestion: Don’t isolate. Reach out. Right now. To a friend. To us. Or to Jesus, who once said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Sometimes the next right thing is simply to know that there is hope and you are not alone.
Feeling hopeless? You are not alone. Here are 12 reasons to live you may not have thought about to help your hopelessness.