Clinical depression is a serious illness that can affect anybody at any age. Research suggests that 1 in 5 teenagers suffer from clinical depression. Having depression doesn’t mean that a person is weak, or a failure, or isn’t really trying – it means that they need help.
We all feel sad or blue now and then. Sadness that lasts a long time (more than two weeks) and that causes problems in your:
Could actually be clinical depression.
You should talk to your doctor, your parent, a teacher or other trusted adult if you’ve had five or more of the symptoms listed below for more than 2 weeks or if any of these symptoms cause such a big change in you that you can’t keep up your usual routine.
“I couldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t want to go to school. My parents were always on my case. My life sucked. Well, not really, but my depression made it seem that way. I just couldn’t get happy no matter how hard I tried. My depression drained all of my energy; I could barely talk. When I started seeing a counsellor it was so hard. Talking about how I was feeling was the last thing I felt like doing but eventually it started to help. That (and my medication) gave me the energy I needed to get better. ” – John, 16
Sign and symptoms of depression in teens
Why do people get depressed?
There’s no straightforward answer to this question. Sometimes people get seriously depressed after something like a divorce in the family, major financial problems, someone they love dying, a messed up home life, or breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Other times – like with other illnesses – depression just happens. Sometimes teenagers react to the pain of depression by getting into trouble with alcohol, drugs, or sex; trouble with school or bad grades; problems with friends or family. It’s important to get treatment for depression before it leads to other trouble.
Depression, alcohol and other drugs
A lot of people (especially teenagers) who struggle with depression also have problems with alcohol and/or other drugs. In the long run, drugs or alcohol will make things worse. Sometimes the depression comes first and people try drugs as a way to escape it. Other times, the alcohol or other drug use comes first, and depression is caused by:
Regardless of which came first, the important thing is that when you are dealing with depression and substance abuse, the sooner you get treatment the better. Either problem can make the other worse and lead to bigger trouble.
You need to be honest about both issues – first with yourself and then with someone who can help you get into treatment. It’s the only way to really get better and stay better.
Read the Treatment options
Most people with depression can be helped with treatment. A lot of depressed people never get the help they need because they don’t know the signs of depression or they are too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help. In fact, over 3 million Canadians suffer from depression at any given time but less than half seek help. When depression isn’t treated, it can get worse and last longer. The good news is that you can get treatment and feel better soon.
Most people with clinical depression can be helped with counseling, medicine, or both together. Treatment can help most depressed people start to feel better in just a few weeks.
Counselling means talking with a trained professional about your thoughts, feelings, behaviour, and relationships. You will work together to find where problems exist and learn how to make changes in the relationships, thoughts, or behaviours that contribute to your depression.
Medication is often used to treat depression that is severe or really messing up your life. Antidepressant medications are not “uppers” and they are not addictive. Sometimes, several types of medications may have to be tried before you and your doctor find the one that works best for you. Talk to your doctor about your different options.
For a list of places where you can get treatment and/or find a doctor, click here.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, you can learn more about your choices and figure out which treatments might be best for you. To learn more click here.