Today’s post comes to us from blogger, Erica Silva. Her article breaks down teenage depression and its treatment options into simple terms that any teenager could find helpful. If you are a parent of a teenager who might be experiencing depression, this post could help him or her better understand what is going on with their mental health and how to get help. Thank you, Erica, for writing for us. –Veronique Hoebeke, Associate Editor at www.rtor.org
Your teenage years can be a very unsettling time of your life during which you may be bombarded by a ton of new feelings, emotions and thoughts. It can be a struggle to make friends, get through school, do well at studies, make your parents happy, and be content yourself.
Many times teenagers, in an attempt to achieve all these things, find themselves overwhelmed by sadness, despondency, irritability, guilt, and hopelessness. For some, this phase ends quickly and for many others, it can last years.
It is not ‘just a phase’
It’s certainly not uncommon to go through phases of feeling irritability, frustration, and uselessness when you are a teen. Everyone, regardless of whether they are living through adolescence or adulthood, experiences these basic emotions and feelings.
However, if these feelings persist for a long time without any signs of abating, you might have depression. Being sad for some time is quite natural, however, being depressed is completely different.
While there is no definite way to describe depression since everyone experiences it differently, there are certain symptoms that are associated with depression which occur simultaneously.
These symptoms may include low appetite, headaches, difficulty concentrating, memory issues, feeling sleepy during the day and staying awake all night, social withdrawal, frequent bouts of crying, extreme feelings of sadness and anxiety, forgetful and irresponsible behavior, preoccupation with death or having suicidal thoughts, etc. Thoughts about suicide should never be taken lightly as suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Depression can have a harmful effect on your mental and physical well-being. If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression, don’t ignore it. Seek help as soon as you can.
Talk: Give words to your thoughts and feelings
Talking about what’s on your mind can sometimes prove to be the most helpful and relieving thing ever. Do you ever feel the need to find a friend, an acquaintance, a loved one, or just someone trustworthy to talk about what is on your mind? And when you do, do you feel like something really heavy was lifted off your chest? In this case too, talking about your thoughts, feelings, and emotions will have a positive effect on your mental health.
Giving words to your turbulent thoughts and emotions is undoubtedly a very tough thing to do. However, it is also the best thing you can do for yourself, if you wish to come out of a disturbed state of mind. While this may be seen as a call of help by some people and make them feel weak or shameful, it shouldn’t. Asking for support and being able to talk it out is perhaps the bravest thing you can do.
Stay connected: You need social contact
While it is easier said than done, trying to stay socially active can make you feel better. A depressed person will definitely be more prone towards isolation and loneliness, therefore it is best to keep in touch with your friends. Social support is extremely essential to overcome negative feelings and neglecting your relationships can worsen your condition.
Sometimes, having a friend or a comrade around can significantly improve your mood and outlook towards life. While they may not be able to offer you professional help, if they simply listen to you with care and concern without judging you, it may help you more than you think.
Walk, run, sprint: Your body needs to move
As surprising as it may sound, exercising has been scientifically proven to stave off depression as it can improve mood in people who have mild to moderate depression. Research has shown that exercise is a powerful fighter against depression and can be as equally effective as medications to relieve a person from its symptoms.
Researchers have conducted numerous studies on depression and many of them have been positively linked with exercise. According to one study, people with depression who exercised regularly had a lower tendency to relapse into depression, regardless of which treatment plan they initially adopted.
Another study published in 2005 found that walking fast for about 35 minutes each day results in a significant influence on mild to moderate symptoms of depression. The very act of walking or exercising stimulates the secretion of endorphins – a chemical released by the body that reduces pain and enhances immunity. This, in turn, helps improve a person’s mood and makes him or her feel better.
Therapy: Get the help you may need
The treatment options for depression are numerous, however, one way that teenagers can help themselves is by going to a counselor or a therapist. Therapy is a way to help people understand the nature of their depression and how they can get better. The goal with this kind of therapy is to help people deal with low moods, manage their social relationships, and enhance their problem solving skills.
These therapists and counselors engage in productive discussions where they help the patients talk about their feelings and thoughts and come up with ways to deal with their depressive symptoms. Sometimes, therapy can take a while to show positive effects, but in the long run, the benefits can be vividly seen and felt by the client.
Therapy can be a very effective way to deal with depression because there are therapists who have had years of training on how to help people with depression.
Medication: your last resort if all else fails
If you feel that everything that you have tried to help fight your depression has failed, your last option could be trying antidepressants to help relieve your symptoms.
When it comes to depression, medications can be really helpful especially in the case of severe or chronic depression. They can help patients with mild symptoms of depression and gradually prevent the risk of relapse in the long run. Taking medication to help your mental health is not a bad or shameful thing. Don’t be afraid to discuss medication with your therapist, doctor, or parents if you feel like you really need it.
Depression in teenagers is a bitter reality that needs to be taken seriously regardless of how mild or severe the symptoms may be. Extensive care needs to be extended towards those with depression and their family members need to get involved so that their situation can be prevented from getting worse and help provide the right kind of treatment.
About Erica Silva
Erica Silva is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs.
Find her on Twitter:@ericadsilva1
If you are concerned that you or someone you care about is experiencing symptoms of depression or another mental health issue, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.