- Many teens suffer from depression but do not know what to do about it.
“It’s the worst feeling in the world,” senior John Smith said, shuffling his feet and looking down. “But I never said anything because I didn’t want to seem like I was weak or have emotion.”
Smith, like 15% of other teens, suffers from depression. Major depression affects about 5% at any point in time, and is the cause of 90% of teen suicides, according to Teendepression.org. Depression is often characterized by a drop in grades, isolating oneself, uninvolvement in activities that were previously enjoyed, and self-mutilation. An increase or decrease in eating habits, as well as a loss of energy and interest.
While most teens experience bouts of sadness or intense emotions, depression is something different, something much more severe. It can affect one’s whole life, from school, to friendships, to home life. Often teens that suffer from depression abuse or have abused substances.
“I was always sad. I did really bad in school. I smoked a lot of pot and drank a lot. Anything to numb how I was feeling. I skipped class, and was always under the influence. When I was drunk or high nothing else seemed to matter.”
In most cases, there isn’t one specific event that sets off a bout of depression. It can be unexplainable, and often hits with no warning or cause.
Less than 33% of teens suffering with depression seek professional help. Depression that goes untreated in teens, can lead to higher chances of suicide and alcohol and drug abuse.According to Teenhelp.com, it can also effect one’s health by weakening the immune system and plaguing teens with bouts of sleeplessness. “I lost a lot of sleep. I’m restless all through the night, or I just won’t stop working.” Often times, depression causes unexplainable headaches, back aches, and stomach aches, and can make the simplest of acts seem extremely difficult.
When asked if he ever talked to an adult about his depression, Smith replied, “Not really. At least, not until my best friend’s mom found out what I was doing. I talked to her about why I was smoking a lot, and she really just let me talk about how I was feeling and what I was going through.”
Depression can have everlasting effects on one’s emotional stability, and those who suffer from depression are likely to experience multiple episodes. 20-40% of teens will experience at least one other episode within a year, and 70% before reaching adulthood, says Teenhelp.com.
Depression is a treatable ailment, with many helpful medicines. There are also many recourses available to teens that are depressed, such as suicide hotlines, as well as teachers, peer counselors, and counselors. If you believe you’re depressed, or you know someone that you believe is depressed, seek help. Depression can destroy a life, but it doesn’t have to.
*All names have been changed to protect the indentities of the real individuals interviewed for this article.