Teen depression is a serious medical illness. It's more than just a feeling of being sad or "blue" for a few days. It is an intense feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and anger or frustration that lasts much longer. These feelings make it hard for you to function normally and do your usual activities. You may also have trouble focusing and have no motivation or energy. Depression can make you feel like it is hard to enjoy life or even get through the day.
Many factors may play a role in depression, including
Depression can happen at any age, but often begins in the teens or early adulthood. Certain teens are at higher risk of depression, such as those who
If you have depression, you have one or more of these symptoms most of the time:
You also may also have other symptoms, such as
If you think you might be depressed, tell someone that you trust, such as your
The next step is to see your doctor for a checkup. Your doctor can first make sure that you do not have another health problem that is causing your depression. To do this, you may have a physical exam and lab tests.
If you don't have another health problem, you will get a psychological evaluation. Your doctor may do it, or you may be referred to a mental health professional to get one. You may be asked about things such as
Effective treatments for depression in teens include talk therapy, or a combination of talk therapy and medicines:
Talk therapy, also called psychotherapy or counseling, can help you understand and manage your moods and feelings. It involves going to see a therapist, such as a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker, or counselor. You can talk out your emotions to someone who understands and supports you. You can also learn how to stop thinking negatively and start to look at the positives in life. This will help you build confidence and feel better about yourself.
There are many different types of talk therapy. Certain types have been shown to help teens deal with depression, including
In some cases, your doctor will suggest medicines along with talk therapy. There are a few antidepressants that have been widely studied and proven to help teens. If you are taking medicine for depression, it is important to see your doctor regularly.
It is also important to know that it will take some time for you to get relief from antidepressants:
In some cases, teenagers may have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior when taking antidepressants. This risk is higher in the first few weeks after starting the medicine and when the dose is changed. Make sure to tell your parents or guardian if you start feeling worse or have thoughts of hurting yourself.
You should not stop taking the antidepressants on your own. You need to work with your doctor to slowly and safely decrease the dose before you stop.
Programs for severe depression
Some teens who have severe depression or are at risk of hurting themselves may need more intensive treatment. They may go into a psychiatric hospital or do a day program. Both offer counseling, group discussions, and activities with mental health professionals and other patients. Day programs may be full-day or half-day, and they often last for several weeks.