It all falls down: understanding teen depression
HAVE you ever been so happy you actually feel like you physically want to burst? You know the feeling when nothing can bring you down, and even the most annoying person you know brings a smile to your face? Sometimes it could be because of a certain incident, such as getting honors in school, or your crush saying hello to you. Other times it is more extended, and becomes part of your general disposition.
Imagine feeling the opposite. I’m not just talking about sadness that lasts a few hours because your mom didn’t want to buy you this dress you wanted, or because your dad scolded you for being an hour late for your curfew. I’m talking about a deep, long-standing sadness that takes you to the darkest places in you that you didn’t even know existed.
It’s the kind of sadness that isn’t alleviated by your favorite person, when a smile is too much of an effort, and when anger has run so deep that you stop caring. There’s a name for that, and it’s called depression.
If you think you might be experiencing it or know someone who is, don’t take it lightly. It’s a real condition with real repercussions if not addressed properly.
More than just teen angst
I went through my own bout of depression. I was about 15 years old when I started feeling the first signs of it, like feeling uninterested in social activities, not wanting to get out of bed for any reason, weight loss because I was never in the mood to eat, and self-imposed guilt.
All of these feelings grew and gave birth to other ones, which eventually resulted in me doing some really stupid things, like shoplifting small items like pens and stamps, smoking, drinking and just generally causing trouble.
I did all of it because I didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t want to take care of myself because I didn’t care enough to. I felt like I wasn’t worth it, and my perfectionist ways made me think, “If I’m not going to get it right the first time, what’s the point?”
Depression can show itself through sadness, but it can also just as easily come out as anger, irritability, and general negativity from the person going through it.
I used to get into so many fights with my mother back then. I just felt like no one understood, and everyone was against me. I didn’t feel worthy, but at the same time, my acting out was a cry for help. Thankfully, my parents heard it.
Despite being so hard to love at that time, they saw right through me and stared my depression in the eye and dealt with it because I couldn’t. For that I am forever grateful.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the kind of support system I did, and still do. It’s a fact that people who have gone through a depression before are more prone to experiencing it again later on in life. I still have my phases, but right now, it ends with negative talk and tears.
With a few patient people and enough time to work it out within myself, I handle it a lot better now. But again, what about those that don’t have the blessings I did and still do?
If you think a friend, sibling, cousin, or anyone you care about is going through a depression, go to their parents and talk to them about it. Tell them that it’s not just teenage angst, they aren’t just being difficult, and it’s something that really needs to be addressed—now.
Did you know that if left untreated, depression in teens can cause problems at home, substance abuse, criminal activity, eating disorders, low self-esteem, reckless behavior and, in worst cases, even suicide?
Do you know anyone who jokes about killing themselves, romanticizes death, or writes stories or poetry about their own death? Don’t take these things lightly, and help them seek help as soon as possible.
How do you help someone, especially a teen who is depressed? Aside from suggesting that they seek professional help, you should make sure to offer your unconditional support. They may not want to talk to you, or answer too many questions, but knowing you’re there for them will help.
Another way is by being consistent. If they ignore you or act irritated at your good intentions at first, keep trying. You need to build that trust and have them know that you are not planning to give up on them.
Lastly, listen to what they have to say, without judgment, and allow them to honor their feelings. Let them know it’s ok to feel the way they do, and that their reasons for feeling them are valid.
Depression is not a pretty topic, and it is unfortunately not something a lot of people take seriously.
If more people did, though, and were more open about the topic, then there would be more awareness and help offered to those going through it—because some might not even realize that they are. Remember that it can be cured with some time, professional help, and patience from supportive people.
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