Teen Depression


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 Online Depression Screening Test

What Is Depression?
What is Depression?
What are the symptoms of Depression?
Depression Symptoms and Warning Signs


Parent's Guide to Teen Depression

Teen Depression
Teen Depression - Boys
Teen Depression - Girls

Does Social Media Cause Depression?
Tips for Parents Who Want to Talk to Children About Depression
Unexpected Symptoms of Teen Depression
10 Ways to Help When Your Child is Depressed
Facts and Warning Signs for Suicidal Thoughts in Children
What to do if you are depressed?
How to Help Someone with Depression
Where can I get more information about Depression?
Study Shows 900,000 Teens Planned Suicides While Depressed
Who Young People Turn to for Help
The Alarming Consequences of Untreated Depression in Children
I Knew I had a Good/Bad Psychiatrist/Therapist When…
How Parents Can Talk to Teens About Depression
Postpartum Depression
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What is Depression?

A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.

For more information: National Institute of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depression.cfm#ptdep1

What are the symptoms of Depression?

According to the National Foundation of Depressive Illness, the symptoms of Depressive Illness are highly recognizable, both to those affected and to those closest to them, once they are told what to look for.

• Loss of energy and interest.
• Diminished ability to enjoy oneself.
• Decreased (or increased) sleeping or appetite.
• Difficulty in concentrating, indecisiveness, slowed or fuzzy thinking.
• Exaggerated feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiety.
• Feelings of worthlessness.
• Recurring thoughts about death and suicide.

Think you might be suffering from depression? Try one of these free online quizes: Depression-screening.org and www.psycom.net/depression-test/

10 Ways to Help When Your Child is Depressed

Being a parent is rewarding, but tough. One of the hardest things to deal with is your child’s pain. If your child is depressed, you probably are scared and feel helpless. There are some ways in which you can help your child, though.

1. Recognize that clinical depression is a disease.

Internalizing this fact will help your child in two ways. One, it will hopefully keep you from blaming yourself or your child. This is no one’s fault. Second, if you think of depression as a disease instead of a choice your child is making, you won’t say anything thoughtless like, “Why don’t you just pull yourself together,” or “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

2. Don’t freak out.

This will definitely not help your child. Clinical depression can be successfully treated more than 80% of the time. As long as your child has a good doctor and supportive parents, he or she has a very good chance of recovering. Notice that last part – while everyone with depression really needs a good doctor, supportive parents are absolutely critical for a child with depression.

3. Do your homework.

Read up about depression – symptoms, causes and treatment. The more you know, especially about treatment options, the more effectively you can advocate for your child in the health care system and at school.

4. Let your child know that it’s okay to be depressed.

Children tend to hide things from parents that they think will upset them. Make it clear to your child that nothing they could say is as upsetting to you as being unable to help them because they’re afraid to hurt you.

5. Talk to your child frequently.

This sounds like a tall order. Any parent who’s ever asked, “How was school?” and got the response, “Fine” knows that children can be reticent. And when someone’s depressed, talking is often the last thing they want to do. Provide some low-stress, low-distraction opportunities, like taking a walk or preparing a meal together, for your child to talk to you.

6. Be your child’s advocate in the health care system.

Make sure that their doctor is knowledgeable, caring and someone who really listens. Take charge your child’s treatment. Ensure that your child keep appointments and takes the prescribed medication. You may have to be tough and persistent, but treatment, either medication or therapy or both, is the only thing that will make any difference.

7. Don’t be afraid of the “S” word.

You may be afraid to ask your child if they are having suicidal thoughts, assuming that you will put the idea in their head. Don’t worry. Either they are already having suicidal thoughts, in which case it may be a big relief to talk about it. If they haven’t, talking about it openly will allow them to bring the subject up again if this changes. And please note that even children younger than 12 do commit suicide.

8. Encourage your child to socialize.

Even though someone who’s depressed may shun gatherings, be persistent. Contact with friends and family provides a support system that is essential to someone with depression.

9. Encourage your child to enter therapy.

Talk therapy, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, can help your child break out of negative and self-hating thought patterns that are generated by depression.

10. Be patient.

This won’t turn around overnight. If you feel like you need help coping with the situation, you might want to try individual therapy or family counseling.
Source: www.wingofmadness.com/10-ways-child-depressed/

Tips for Parents Who Want to Talk to Children About Depression

Why it's important to be honest during the discussion

If you decide to talk about depression with your child, you may be concerned about saying the "right" thing. However, just having an open and honest discussion with your child can provide her with much-needed support. With a few tips, concerned parents and caregivers can confidently talk about depression with their children.

Keep the Talk Age Appropriate

You want to make sure that your child understands what you are saying and is not confused or bored by the discussion.

Make sure that you are using words that your child can understand. Words such as "depression" or "emotional reaction" are probably too complex for a younger child but may be appropriate for an older child or adolescent. Try comparing her depression to something that your child is already familiar with --- like another illness that your child has had experience with (e.g., flu, ear infection, etc.)

Keep the Conversation Positive

Keeping your depression discussion positive does not mean that you should sugar-coat it. Depression is a serious illness that causes emotional and physical pain, and it can have serious consequences. However, if you maintain a positive and hopeful outlook in your discussions, you will avoid unnecessarily alarming your child.

Be Honest

In talking about depression, do not make promises you cannot keep or go into detail about topics that you are not certain of. Instead, tell your child what you do know, and make a list of questions to discuss with your child's mental health professional.

Be Compassionate

Your child needs to know that you recognize and respect his feelings. Even if you do not quite understand his thoughts, avoid quipping, "What do you have to be depressed about?" or "Don't be ridiculous." Comments like these just cause a child to keep his feelings to himself or become defensive.

Be a Good Listener

Allow your child to talk openly and express his opinions and thoughts. Avoid interrupting, judging or punishing him for his feelings. Knowing that he has someone he can confide in help to sort out his feelings.

While talking to your child about his depression can be a very important part of his recovery, it does not replace the need for professional treatment. If your child is depressed or you suspect depression, consult with his pediatrician or other mental health professionals for accurate diagnosis and treatment.


Feelings Need Check Ups Too. American Academy of Pediatrics.

Communicating With Your Child. American Academy of Pediatrics.https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/communication-discipline/Pages/Components-of-Good-Communication.aspx

Stress in America: Talking With Your Children About Stress. American Psychological Association
Source: www.verywell.com/how-to-talk-about-depression-with-children-1066652

Unexpected Symptoms of Teen Depression

Depression in teens deeply affects those who suffer from it, but the symptoms are often notably different from depression in adults. Here's what you need to know about how depression shows up in teens.

What does depression in teens look like?

Adults expect teen depression to show up as a pervasive sense of sadness and withdrawal, and sometimes it does.

But what most adults don't know is that in teens, depression is more likely to show up as angry or irritable behavior.

A teen who is yelling at others, grumpy, easily frustrated, defiant or quick to snap at a parents' benign comments may in fact be suffering from depression.

In addition to anger and irritability, teens suffering from depression may also exhibit the following symptoms:

1. Health problems such as a chronic headache or stomachache.

Unexplained health problems are often a sign of depression in teens, who are likely to experience sadness as a physical sensation. Other complaints include feeling dizzy or nauseated. If your teen has such complaints, have them initially checked out by an MD. In cases where no physical illness is detected, depression may be the reason for these symptoms.

2. A change in social interactions or patterns.

Depressed adults tend to withdraw from others, but this is less likely to happen with teens, who build their lives around interactions with peers.

Sudden or significant changes in a teen's participation with others can signal depression. This can include changing friends, spending less time in activities with peers or being alone more often.

3. Very low self-esteem.

Depressed teens are likely to react badly to any negative event, perceiving failure or apparent criticism of them.

A seemingly small failure may be perceived as substantial and reinforce their sense of negativity and poor self-worth. A benign comment may be blown out of proportion by the teen.

Teen depression can manifest in many different ways and therefore the presence of depression should always be considered as part of the assessment and treatment of a teen who is exhibiting troubling behaviors.

Quick Link: Parent's Guide to Teen Depression | Quiz: Could Your Teen Be Depressed?
Source: www.verywell.com/unexpected-symptoms-of-teen-depression-2609496?utm_term=depression+symptoms+for+teenagers&utm_content=p1-main-1-title&utm_medium=sem&utm_source=msn_s&utm_campaign=adid-569c2ee1-d855-499a-84b9-a03ccfb7615a-0-ab_msb_ocode-34460&ad=semD&an=msn_s&am=broad&q=depression+symptoms+for+teenagers&o=34460&qsrc=999&l=sem&askid=569c2ee1-d855-499a-84b9-a03ccfb7615a-0-ab_msb

Depression Symptoms and Warning Signs

How to Recognize the Symptoms and Get Effective Help?

Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won't go away, you may have depression. Depression makes it tough to function and enjoy life like you once did. Just getting through the day can be overwhelming. But no matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. Learning about depression—and the many things you can do to help yourself—is the first step to overcoming the problem.

How do you experience depression?

While some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. Men in particular may even feel angry and restless. No matter how you experience it, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun.

Some people feel like nothing will ever change. But it’s important to remember that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of depression—not the reality of your situation. You can do things today to start feeling better.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression.

Symptoms of depression include:
  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
  • Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
  • Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping.
  • Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
  • Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
  • Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
  • Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
  • Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  • Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

Is it depression or bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, involves serious shifts in moods, energy, thinking, and behavior. Because it looks so similar to depression when in the low phase, it is often overlooked and misdiagnosed. This is a problem, because antidepressants for bipolar depression can make the condition worse. If you’ve ever gone through phases where you experienced excessive feelings of euphoria, a decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, and impulsive behavior, consider getting evaluated for bipolar disorder. See: Bipolar Disorder Signs and Symptoms.

Depression and suicide risk

Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. If you have a loved one with depression, take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously and watch for the warning signs:

  • Talking about killing or harming one’s self
  • Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
  • An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
  • Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
  • Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
  • Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
  • Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
  • A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy

If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, express your concern and seek help immediately. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.

The symptoms of depression can vary with gender and age

Depression often varies according to age and gender, with symptoms differing between men and women, or young people and older adults.

Depression in men. Depressed men are less likely to acknowledge feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness. Instead, they tend to complain about fatigue, irritability, sleep problems, and loss of interest in work and hobbies. They’re also more likely to experience symptoms such as anger, aggression, reckless behavior, and substance abuse.

Depression in women. Women are more likely to experience symptoms such as pronounced feelings of guilt, excessive sleeping, overeating, and weight gain. Depression in women is also impacted by hormonal factors during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Up to 1 in 7 women experience depression following childbirth, a condition known as postpartum depression.

Depression in teens. Irritability, anger, and agitation are often the most noticeable symptoms in depressed teens—not sadness. They may also complain of headaches, stomachaches, or other physical pains.

Depression in older adults. Older adults tend to complain more about the physical rather than the emotional signs and symptoms of depression: things like fatigue, unexplained aches and pains, and memory problems. They may also neglect their personal appearance and stop taking critical medications for their health.

Types of depression

Depression comes in many shapes and forms. Knowing what type of depression you have can help you manage your symptoms and get the most effective treatment.

Major depression

Major depression is much less common than mild or moderate depression and is characterized by intense, relentless symptoms.

  • Left untreated, major depression typically lasts for about six months.
  • Some people experience just a single depressive episode in their lifetime, but major depression can be a recurring disorder.

Atypical depression

Atypical depression is a common subtype of major depression with a specific symptom pattern. It responds better to some therapies and medications than others, so identifying it can be helpful.

  • People with atypical depression experience a temporary mood lift in response to positive events, such as after receiving good news or while out with friends.
  • Other symptoms of atypical depression include weight gain, increased appetite, sleeping excessively, a heavy feeling in the arms and legs, and sensitivity to rejection.

Dysthymia (recurrent, mild depression)

Dysthymia is a type of chronic “low-grade” depression. More days than not, you feel mildly or moderately depressed, although you may have brief periods of normal mood.

  • The symptoms of dysthymia are not as strong as the symptoms of major depression, but they last a long time (at least two years).
  • Some people also experience major depressive episodes on top of dysthymia, a condition known as “double depression.”
  • If you suffer from dysthymia, you may feel like you’ve always been depressed. Or you may think that your continuous low mood is “just the way you are.”

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

For some people, the reduced daylight hours of winter lead to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD affects about 1% to 2% of the population, particularly women and young people.

  • SAD can make you feel like a completely different person to who you are in the summer: hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love.
  • SAD usually begins in fall or winter when the days become shorter and remains until the brighter days of spring.

Depression causes and risk factors

While some illnesses have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward, depression is more complicated. Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain that can be simply cured with medication. It’s caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. In other words, your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much—if not more so—than genetics.

Risk factors that make you more vulnerable to depression include:

  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Lack of social support
  • Recent stressful life experiences
  • Family history of depression
  • Marital or relationship problems
  • Financial strain
  • Early childhood trauma or abuse
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Unemployment or underemployment
  • Health problems or chronic pain

The cause of your depression helps determine the treatment

Understanding the underlying cause of your depression may help you overcome the problem. For example, if you are depressed because of a dead end job, the best treatment might be finding a more satisfying career, not taking an antidepressant. If you are new to an area and feeling lonely and sad, finding new friends will probably give you more of a mood boost than going to therapy. In such cases, the depression is remedied by changing the situation.

What you can do to feel better

When you’re depressed, it can feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. But there are many things you can do to lift and stabilize your mood. The key is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there, trying to do a little more each day. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself.

What you can do

Reach out to other people. Isolation fuels depression, so reach out to friends and loved ones, even if you feel like being alone or don’t want to be a burden to others. The simple act of talking to someone face-to-face about how you feel can be an enormous help. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix you. He or she just needs to be a good listener—someone who’ll listen attentively without being distracted or judging you.

Get moving. When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem daunting, let alone exercising. But regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in countering the symptoms of depression. Take a short walk or put some music on and dance around. Start with small activities and build up from there.

Eat a mood boosting diet. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, sugar, and refined carbs. And increase mood-enhancing nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids.

Find ways to engage again with the world. Spend some time in nature, care for a pet, volunteer, pick up a hobby you used to enjoy (or take up a new one). You won’t feel like it at first, but as you participate in the world again, you will start to feel better.

10 tips for reaching out and staying connected

  • Talk to one person about your feelings
  • Help someone else by volunteering
  • Have lunch or coffee with a friend
  • Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly
  • Accompany someone to the movies, a concert, or a small get-together
  • Call or email an old friend
  • Go for a walk with a workout buddy
  • Schedule a weekly dinner date
  • Meet new people by taking a class or joining a club
  • Confide in a clergy member, teacher, or sports coach

For more information, see: Coping with Depression

When to seek professional help

If support from family and friends and positive lifestyle changes aren’t enough, find a therapist who can help you heal.

Therapy can help you understand your depression and motivate you to take the action necessary to prevent it from coming back.

Medication may be imperative if you’re feeling suicidal or violent. But while it can help relieve symptoms of depression in some people, it isn’t a cure and is not usually a long-term solution. It also comes with side effects and other drawbacks so it’s important to learn all the facts to make an informed decision.

Related HelpGuide articles

  • Parent's Guide to Teen Depression: Recognizing the Signs of Depression in Teens and How You Can Help
  • Teenager's Guide to Depression: Tips and Tools for Helping Yourself or a Friend
  • Depression in Men: Signs, Symptoms, and Help for Male Depression

Resources and references

Signs and symptoms of depression

Signs and Symptoms of Mood Disorders – Lists the common signs and symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)

What Does Depression Feel Like? – Provides a list of signs and symptoms and ways you might feel if you're depressed. (Wings of Madness)

When Depression Hurts – Article on the painful physical symptoms of depression, including what causes them and how treatment can help. (Psychology Today)

Male Depression: Don't Ignore the Symptoms – Learn about the distinct symptoms of depression in men and the dangers of leaving them untreated. (Mayo Clinic)

Types of depression

The Different Faces of Depression – Discussion of the different subtypes of depression, including atypical depression, melancholic depression, and psychotic depression. (Psychology Today)

Atypical Depression: What's in a Name? – Article on the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of atypical depression. (American Psychiatric Association)

Dysthymia: Psychotherapists and patients confront the high cost of “low-grade” depression – In-depth look at the causes, effects, and treatment of dysthymic disorder. (Harvard Health Publications)

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Winter Depression – Guide to seasonal affective disorder and its symptoms, causes, and treatment. (Northern County Psychiatric Associates)

Depression causes and risk factors

What Causes Depression? Page 1 & Page 2 – Learn about the many potential causes of depression, including genes, temperament, stressful life events, and medical issues. (Harvard Health Publications)

Depression and Other Illnesses – An overview of the mental and physical illnesses that often co-exist with depression, and how this impacts treatment. (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)

Co-occurring Disorders and Depression – How medical disorders can affect depression and vice versa. (Mental Health America)

Source: www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-signs-and-symptoms.htm

Facts and Warning Signs for Suicidal Thoughts in Children


Knowing youth suicide facts is especially important for parents of children with depression. For parents, suicidal thoughts and behaviors are one of the most alarming concerns of childhood depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), death by suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 10- to 14-year-olds, and many more children attempt but do not complete suicide.

At What Age Can Suicidal Thoughts Happen?

According to the CDC's Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQRS), there were no deaths by suicide in the United States among children under age 5 between 2000 and 2007.

However, rates of suicide deaths increased 0.02% for 5- to 9-year-olds, and 1.22% for 10- to 14-year-olds in that same time period.

Typically, rates of suicide increase with age, peaking in late adolescence. Girls more often attempt suicide, but boys more frequently follow through to completion.

Suicidal Thoughts and Depression

According to Dr. David C.R. Kerr, who published a study of youth suicide in The Journal of Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior in 2008, suicidal thoughts are linked to a worse course of depression, the symptoms of which include earlier onset, longer duration and shorter intervals of remission.

It is important to know that not all depressed children will have suicidal thoughts or behavior. In fact, it is one of the least common symptoms of childhood depression. Also, not all children with suicidal thoughts and behavior are depressed.

Perhaps most comforting to know, not all children who have suicidal thoughts will attempt suicide.

However, it is a good predictor for future attempts, and these children always need to be evaluated by a professional.

Warning Signs of Suicide

Some important warning signs of suicidal behavior in children are:

  • Reckless behavior
  • Frequent statements of self-harm
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Expressions of hopelessness about the future

Risk Factors

Some risk factors that may contribute to a child's risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior include:

  • A family history of suicide, depression or other mental illness
  • Loss of a close family member, friend or classmate by suicide or other sudden death
  • Threats or violence from peers
  • Previous history of depression or other mental health illness
  • Previous suicide attempts

How to Help Your Child

Be aware. While rare in young children, suicide is possible. Know the warning signs and risk factors that may increase your child's risk of suicide.

Talk to your child. Talking about suicide will not give your child the idea to attempt suicide. If a friend or other loved one has died, committed suicide or is extremely ill, talk to your child about it and address her feelings.

Tell others. If your child exhibits suicidal thoughts or behaviors, tell your child's other caretakers and faculty members at her school so they can closely monitor your child when you are not around.

Keep weapons locked up. Common sense tells you to keep weapons, medications, alcohol and poisons safely away from children, but this is especially important for children at risk for suicide.

Get your child treatment. If your child is depressed, at high risk for depression or other mental illness, it is essential to get her treatment.

When to Get Immediate Help

It's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your child's well-being. If you think that your child is in crisis and has had a previous suicide attempt, is threatening to harm herself, or you just have a "gut feeling," get your child help immediately. Do not wait. If needed, take your child to a pediatric emergency room.

Having a child who is depressed or is suicidal does not make you a bad parent or mean that you did anything to cause her pain. The best thing you can do is to get your child help and support her in her recovery.

*If your child or someone else you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).


David C. R. Kerr, Ph.D., Lee D. Owen, B.S., Katherine C. Pears, Ph.D., and Deborah M. Capaldi, Ph.D. Prevalence of Suicidal Ideation Among Boys and Men Assessed Annually from Ages 9 to 29 Years. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. August 2008 38(4): 390-401.

Injury Prevention & Control: Data & Statistics (WISQARS). Centers for Disease Control.

Knowing The Warning Signs. American Association of Suicidology.

Suicide Prevention for Children. American Academy of Pediatrics: HealthyChildren.org.

Suicide Prevention: Youth Suicide. Centers for Disease Control.
Source: www.verywell.com/youth-suicide-facts-1066787

Parent's Guide to Teen Depression

Teenagers face a host of pressures, from the changes of puberty to questions about who they are and where they fit in. With all this turmoil and uncertainty, it isn’t always easy to differentiate between depression and normal teenage growing pains. But teen depression goes beyond moodiness. It’s a serious health problem that impacts every aspect of a teen’s life. Fortunately, it’s treatable and parents can help. Your support can go a long way toward getting your teenager back on track.

What are the signs and symptoms of depression in teens?

Unlike adults, who have the ability to seek assistance on their own, teenagers rely on parents, teachers, or other caregivers to recognize their suffering and get them the help they need. So if you have an adolescent in your life, it’s important to learn what teen depression looks like and what to do if you spot the warning signs.

While it might seem that recognizing depression is easy, the signs aren’t always obvious. For one, teens with depression don’t necessarily appear sad. Irritability, anger, and agitation may be the most prominent symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of depression in teens

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Poor school performance
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • .Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Is it depression or teenage “growing pains”?

A certain amount of moodiness and acting out is par for the course with teens. But persistent changes in personality, mood, or behavior are red flags of a deeper problem. If you’re unsure if your child is depressed or just “being a teenager,” consider how long the symptoms have been going on, how severe they are, and how different your child is acting from his or her usual self. Hormones and stress can explain the occasional bout of teenage angst—but not continuous and unrelenting unhappiness lethargy, or irritability.

Suicide warning signs in teenagers

Seriously depressed teens often think about, speak of, or make "attention-getting" attempts at suicide. But an alarming and increasing number of teenage suicide attempts are successful, so suicidal thoughts or behaviors should always be taken very seriously.

For the overwhelming majority of suicidal teens, depression or another psychological disorder plays a primary role. In depressed teens who also abuse alcohol or drugs, the risk of suicide is even greater. Because of the very real danger of suicide, teenagers who are depressed should be watched closely for any signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior.

Suicide warning signs to watch for

  • Talking or joking about committing suicide
  • Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out.”
  • Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love me more”)
  • Writing stories and poems about death, dying, or suicide
  • Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for the last time
  • Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves
Get help for a suicidal teen

If you suspect that a teenager you know is suicidal, take immediate action! For 24-hour suicide prevention and support in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or Text SOS at 741741.

Don’t ignore the problem

Depression is very damaging when left untreated, so don’t wait and hope that worrisome symptoms will go away. If you suspect that your child is depressed, bring up your concerns in a loving, non-judgmental way. Even if you’re unsure that depression is the issue, the troublesome behaviors and emotions you’re seeing are signs of a problem that should be addressed.

Open up a dialogue by letting your teen know what specific signs of depression you’ve noticed and why they worry you. Then ask your child to share what he or she is going through—and be ready and willing to truly listen. Hold back from asking a lot of questions (teenagers don’t like to feel patronized or crowded), but make it clear that you’re ready and willing to provide whatever support they need.

Tips for communicating with a depressed teen

Focus on listening, not lecturing. Resist any urge to criticize or pass judgment once your teenager begins to talk. The important thing is that your child is communicating. You’ll do the most good by simply letting your teen know that you’re there for them, fully and unconditionally.

Be gentle but persistent. Don’t give up if they shut you out at first. Talking about depression can be very tough for teens. Even if they want to, they may have a hard time expressing what they’re feeling. Be respectful of your child’s comfort level while still emphasizing your concern and willingness to listen.

Acknowledge their feelings. Don’t try to talk your teen out of depression, even if their feelings or concerns appear silly or irrational to you. Well-meaning attempts to explain why “things aren’t that bad” will just come across as if you don’t take their emotions seriously. To make them feel understood and supported, simply acknowledging the pain and sadness they are experiencing can go a long way in making them feel understood and supported.

Trust your gut. If your teen claims nothing is wrong but has no explanation for what is causing the depressed behavior, you should trust your instincts. If your teen won’t open up to you, consider turning to a trusted third party: a school counselor, favorite teacher, or mental health professional. The important thing is to get them talking to someone.

Encourage social connection

Depressed teens tend to withdraw from their friends and the activities they used to enjoy. But isolation only makes depression worse, so do what you can to help your teen reconnect.

Make face time a priority. Set aside time each day to talk—time when you’re focused totally on your teen (no distractions or multi-tasking). The simple act of connecting face to face can play a big role in reducing your teen’s depression.

Combat social isolation. Do what you can to keep your teen connected to others. Encourage them to go out with friends or invite friends over. Participate in activities that involve other families and give your child an opportunity to meet and connect with other kids.

Get your teen involved. Suggest activities—such as sports, after-school clubs, or an art, dance, or music class—that take advantage of your teen’s interests and talents. While your teen may lack motivation and interest at first, as they reengage with the world, they should start to feel better and regain their enthusiasm.

Promote volunteerism. Doing things for others is a powerful antidepressant and self-esteem booster. Help your teen find a cause they’re interested in and that gives them a sense of purpose. If you volunteer with them, it can also be a good bonding experience.

Make physical health a priority

Physical and mental health are inextricably connected. Depression is exacerbated by inactivity, inadequate sleep, and poor nutrition. Unfortunately, teens are known for their unhealthy habits: staying up late, eating junk food, and spending hours up hours on their phones and devices. But as a parent, you can combat these behaviors by establishing a healthy, supportive home environment.

Get your teen moving! Exercise is absolutely essential to mental health, so get your teen active—whatever it takes. Ideally, teens should be getting at least an hour of physical activity a day, but it needn’t be boring or miserable. Think outside the box: walking the dog, dancing, shooting hoops, going for a hike, riding bikes, skateboarding—as long as they’re moving, it’s beneficial.

Set limits on screen time. Teens often go online to escape their problems, but excessive computer use only increases their isolation, making them more depressed. When screen time goes up, physical activity and face time with friends goes down. Both are a recipe for worsening symptoms.

Provide nutritious, balanced meals. Make sure your teen is getting the nutrition they need for optimum brain health and mood support: things like healthy fats, quality protein, and fresh produce. Eating a lot of sugary, starchy foods—the quick “pick me up” of many depressed teens—is not going to make the body or brain happy.

Encourage plenty of sleep. Teens need more sleep than adults to function optimally—up to 9-10 hours per night. Make sure your teen isn’t staying up until all hours at the expense of much-need, mood-supporting rest.

Know when to seek professional help

Support and healthy lifestyle changes can make a world of difference for depressed teens, but it’s not always enough. When depression is severe, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a psychologist or psychiatrist. A mental health professional with advanced training and a strong background treating teens is the best bet for your child’s care.

Involve your child in treatment choices

When choosing a specialist or pursuing treatment options, always get your teen’s input. If you want your teen to be motivated and engaged in their treatment, don’t ignore their preferences or make unilateral decisions. No one therapist is a miracle worker, and no one treatment works for everyone. If your child feels uncomfortable or is just not ’connecting’ with the psychologist or psychiatrist, seek out a better fit.

Explore your options

Expect a discussion with the specialist you’ve chosen about depression treatment options for your son or daughter. Talk therapy is often a good initial treatment for mild to moderate cases of depression. Over the course of therapy, your teen’s depression may resolve. If it doesn’t, medication may be warranted.

Unfortunately, some parents feel pushed into choosing antidepressant medication over other treatments that may be cost-prohibitive or time-intensive. However, unless your child is acting out dangerously or at risk for suicide (in which case medication and/or constant observation may be necessary), you have time to carefully weigh your options before committing to any one treatment. In all cases, antidepressants are most effective when part of a broader treatment plan.

Medication comes with risks

Antidepressants were designed and tested on adults, so their impact on young, developing brains is not yet understood. Some researchers are concerned that exposure to drugs such as Prozac may interfere with normal brain development—particularly the way the brain manages stress and regulates emotion.

Antidepressants also come with risks and side effects of their own, including a number of safety concerns specific to children and young adults. They are also known to increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in some teenagers and young adults. Teens with bipolar disorder, a family history of bipolar disorder, or a history of previous suicide attempts are particularly vulnerable.

The risk of suicide is highest during the first two months of antidepressant treatment. Teenagers on antidepressants should be closely monitored for any sign that the depression is getting worse.

Teens on antidepressants: Red flags to watch out for

Call a doctor if you notice…

  • New or more thoughts of suicide
  • Suicidal gestures or attempts
  • New or worse depression
  • New or worse anxiety
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • New or worse irritability
  • Aggressive, angry, or violent behavior
  • Acting on dangerous impulses
  • Hyperactive speech or behavior (mania)
  • Other unusual changes in behavior

Take care of yourself (and the rest of the family)

As a parent dealing with teen depression, you may find yourself focusing all your energy and attention on your depressed child. Meanwhile, you may be neglecting your own needs and the needs of other family members. However, it’s extremely important that you continue to take care of yourself during this difficult time.

Above all, this means reaching out for much needed support. You can’t do everything on your own. Trying is only a recipe for burnout. As the saying goes: “It takes a village.” Enlist the help of family and friends. Having your own support system in place will help you stay healthy and positive as you work to help your teen.

Don’t bottle up your emotions. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, helpless, or angry. Reach out to friends, join a support group, or see a therapist of your own. Talking about how you’re feeling will help defuse the intensity.

Look after your health. The stress of your teen’s depression can affect your own moods and emotions, so support your health and well-being by eating right, getting enough sleep, and making time for things you enjoy.

Be open with the family. Don’t tiptoe around the issue of teen depression in an attempt to “protect” the other children. Kids know when something is wrong. When left in the dark, their imaginations will often jump to far worse conclusions. Be open about what is going on and invite your children to ask questions and share their feelings.

Remember the siblings. Depression in one child can cause stress or anxiety in other family members, so make sure “healthy” children are not ignored. Siblings may need special individual attention or professional help of their own to handle their feelings about the situation.

Avoid the blame game. It can be easy to blame yourself or another family member for your teen’s depression, but it only adds to an already stressful situation. Furthermore, depression is normally caused by a number of factors, so it’s unlikely—except in the case of abuse or neglect—that any loved one is “responsible.”

Related HelpGuide articles

Resources and references

General information about teen depression

Depression – Breaks down the different types of depression in teenagers, as well as the symptoms and remedies. (TeensHealth)

Depression in Boys – While teen depression is more prevalent in girls, teenage boys have their own special risk factors and warning signs. This article delves deeper into male teen depression. (Psychology Today)

Depression in Girls – With society and hormonal changes wreaking havoc, girls need extra care in the teen years. Learn what parents can do. (Psychology Today)

Teen depression and suicide

About Teen Suicide – Discusses teen suicide statistics, risk factors, warnings signs, and how to get help. Also find coping tips for those who have lost a child to suicide. (TeensHealth)

Teen Suicide: What Parents Need to Know – Learn about the risk factors, warning signs, and the steps you can take to protect your teen from suicide. (MayoClinic)

Teenage depression and violence

Warning Signs of Youth Violence – Learn why some teenagers turn violent, what the warning signs are, and who is at risk. (American Psychological Association)

Depression and Violence in Teens – Explores the problem of teen violence, the possible link to depression, and what parents can do about it. (HealthDay)

Treatment for teen depression

Treatment of Children with Mental Illness – Answers to frequently asked questions about the treatment of mental disorders in children, including depression. (National Institute of Mental Health)

Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Finder – Series of articles on when to seek help for your child and where to find it. (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry)

Antidepressants for teens

Antidepressant Medications for Children and Adolescents: Information for Parents and Caregivers – Fact sheet from the federal government on medication for children and teens. (National Institute of Mental Health)

Source: www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/teen-depression-signs-help.htm

I Knew I had a Good/Bad Psychiatrist/Therapist When…

I thought it would be helpful and informative to share good/bad psychiatrist or therapist stories.

We’ll start out with my experiences…

My first experience with treatment was at the mental health clinic at the local hospital. I was fairly indifferent toward the first psychiatrist I had there, but I was unpleasantly jarred to find out that he was leaving after six months. Apparently they were on some sort of rotation. When I walked into the new psychiatrist’s office, I immediately got a bad feeling. It looked like he felt this was a temporary situation, as the office was completely bare except for the desk and two chairs. The reason for my visit was to ask him to raise my medication, as I was feeling the familiar signs of depression after being fairly stable for a year. He never even looked at me, and only asked me one question to determine whether I was depressed again or not, “Do you have thoughts of harming yourself or others?” I said, “Well, no, but I never have, so that’s not really an indication for me.” He ignored all the signs of depression I was recounting and refused to raise my medication. I absolutely hated him, and wouldn’t go back until he was gone six months later. This time when I walked into the new psychiatrist’s office I was very wary, but the difference he had made in that cold office was amazing. I’m a little fuzzy on the specifics, but I immediately noticed that the place smelled great. He had air fresheners in the office that made you want to inhale when you walked in. He had prints on the walls and (I’m pretty sure) healthy plants. I may be just remembering the plants because he was such a nurturing person. He also had a photo of himself with a child on his bulletin board, which I took as a good sign. He was very accessible, listened to me, and ordered a blood test to find out the level of meds in my blood, which indeed was too low. He stayed longer than six months before moving on, and I was very sorry to see him go.

I had trouble with severe mood swings for years and my condition was getting worse. Upon finding out that several close relatives were bipolar, I did some research and found that without a doubt I had the symptoms. I took my information and family history to a local psychiatrist. He stated with sarcasm, “If you went out and bought five Corvettes I’d believe you were bipolar, but you’re not.” I believed him, left and did not seek any further treatment as I descended deeper into a horrible depression. Finally I went to a local clinic, and talked to a nurse practitioner who believed me enough to give me a trial of lithium. Literally within days I rounded a corner. The medication literally saved my life. The moral of the story for me is; if at first you don’t get listened to, keep looking until you do. Also, I’d rather talk to a nurse who listens than an MD who doesn’t. – Kate from Idaho

OK, finally…I put off suicide until I could at least get in to see the psychiatrist. The Paxil that my GI put me on isn’t working. I’m slipping down a drain. I had 1 1/2 hours of sleep last night and in another 2 hours I have to go to work. But….I went to the shrink today like I promised. Told him of my plans to end it. Told him how close I came. Told him I was already dead inside. Told him I had 2 hours of sleep and had to work again. I told him I can hardly get through a day anymore. He said “increase the paxil to 1 1/2 tabs and come back in a month”. Oh well. I didn’t deserve the help anyway. – angelica

About six years ago I was suffering from incredible depression. (I have since been diagnosed w/Borderline Personality Disorder, and depression comprises only a part of this). At any rate, because I was cutting myself, wanting to die, and locking myself in my apartment for weeks at a time (where I would sleep for days on end), my employer (who happened to be my church–I was a church secretary) demanded that I see the licensed family therapist they had on staff. I went. He looked like a dish of spumoni–he wore mixed pastels (polyester), and a horrifyingly bad toupee. On top of everything else, he told me (I am quoting here), that I was evil, that God was protecting other people from me, and that he felt sorry for anyone who knew me because I really was a bad person. This, said to a severely depressed person by a supposed professional, is BAD. I quit seeing him, obviously.

Here’s the REALLY juicy part: he then attempted to blackmail me with my patient records, which he said (I’m quoting again) that he would keep for his own protection, in case I said anything unflattering about him. He said he would make those records public if anything bad I said got back to him. I have since found out that in my state, ANYBODY can be a “licensed family therapist”, just by paying a fee for the license. Scary, huh? (NOTE: this loser has since been taken off the church staff, and I have long since gotten some QUALIFIED help. And I had a Government agency confiscate my records from his office–with my permission, because I work for a defense contractor and had to obtain a security clearance. I have no idea how many other people this pig damaged, though.) – Anita from Alabama

After reading your story, I started to think about my psych, he’s from India, he thinks I’m really off my rocker. He tells me to do other things from what my therapist tells me, and I think he uses me for his guinea pig. He’s been trying to start me on some of the strangest meds, and all I want to do was to get my Effexor refilled. Then he gave me a 2-week supply, but this medicine takes effect in about 30 days. When I go back and see him, what does he do, he prescribes me something else. I’m going to find another psych and keep my therapist. She’s more understanding of my problem. – Tom

Even though I had had depression for years and mild mania, I started off with a psychologist who did not refer me to a psychiatrist until it got so bad I had to be hospitalized. Thankfully, the psychiatrist knew what he was doing (actually at that point it had become quite obvious). So he became my doctor for the last 6 years and was great. Except in October he was too close to a tree that got hit by lightning and he had to stop practicing while they evaluated him. The doctor he left as a back-up was “too busy” for any sessions. I had to go out and interview doctors. That was fun. Finally, my doctor’s office called me and told me to call this other doctor, that he would see me. Well, he started off the conversation stating he was a “mood expert” and started diagnosing me over the phone. He tells me I have to increase my medications and I have to be totally reevaluated and maybe hospitalized (a week before the holidays). I told him that I had no problem raising the medication and that he would find that I took my medications as I was told. He actually said “That’s an oxymoron.” After that experience, I did the incredible. I actually called the insurance company and asked them to find me a doctor. They did, he was nice and he took care of me until my old doctor came back. No, I never did make my appointment with the “mood expert”. You should always interview a “doctor” before actually going into their office. In this state, a doctor has the power to hospitalize you if they think you are in danger or a danger to others. – Lourdes from Miami

I knew I had a bad shrink when he called me at home on Saturday morning to ask me my advice for how he should deal with his problems with his girlfriend. — Eee-gads! – Meg

It was my first experience with a psychiatrist, but I knew it was a mess when one of his assistants/office staff/next door neighbors/whatever kept walking into the office. On the second visit, the doctor spent most of his time on the phone with apparently his stock broker as they were talking all about money, selling this, buying that, etc. Needless to say, I did not go back, and shortly after that he was arrested for DWI and essentially run out of town on a rail. (Turns out I was not the only person that he’d “ignored” in favor of his stock broker.) Current primary care doctor wants me to see a psychiatrist again, and after one bad experience, I’m not sure this is a good idea. I called the insurance company just to clarify what the benefits were. Turns out that they really don’t want you to use their “mental health services.” I can’t use any doctor in the plan, nope, it has to be one who is also in their “merit services” program (which probably means money in one way or another). My other doctors (primary care doctor, orthopod, etc.) are located at the biggest hospital in the area — but none of their “merit services” people are, and they could only give me two names of anyone in town that I could *maybe* see! Needless to say, I won’t be seeing a psychiatrist, and I’m not terribly upset about that! – Laurie

When I first met Dr. X I had an almost unwelcome feeling. I felt like I should be paying for his services and only then he would treat me like I worthy of his therapy. Anyway, I told him that I wanted some sort of psychotherapy rather than drugs because of sideffects, etc. Although he listened to me he decided that drugs would be most useful in this case. Well I didn’t take them, but I did continue to see him. Being a psychology student I am sure my beliefs about drugs were emanating from my psyche. With time, however, I gained respect for this person with a British accent and snotty attitude. When he started sharing some of his personal history and I found that we had a bit of history in common I began to trust him. I guess trust was a real issue for me. I began taking the meds and gradually became healthier. We developed a bit of a friendship which was in the end briskly cut off by him. I guess because he didn’t want me to become too dependent on this one and only friendship. Anyway I still hear his voice once in while and find comfort in knowing that he knew me enough to get me to help myself. – Anonymous

I have been having a hell of a time, lately, with psychiatrists (i.e., finding one and keeping one) during this last bout of depression. My heart sinks when I walk into a practitioner’s office and it barely looks as if they write scripts there. We probably just can’t help it, but women are probably more sensitive to this. The past two pdocs I’ve seen (and didn’t go back to when I couldn’t take it anymore) hardly looked at me, either, except to say “these are the rules” type statements and ask me if was suicidal. Funny thing – it made no difference in their reaction if I said I was suicidal or swore I wasn’t. Not really very humorous. The psychiatrist I saw previously was (is!) a real human being, who listened, empathized, and did his damnedest to help me feel that I too, am a human being, defects and all. He had an office with “real” furniture, old worn oriental carpets, real works of art, including that of friends of mine. Offices of both my current individual therapist and someone my husband and I see occasionally are warm, inviting, not fancy, but with pictures of both their kids and “artwork” done by the same. In other words, if they see themselves as human beings, perhaps they can give us the same courtesy. I resolve to walk right out of the “robot” practitioner’s offices as soon as I walk in from now on! Our instincts may be all we have left…. – Robin

I have been to untold numbers of these people over the last 5 years that I have been suffering from depression. One told me that I could blame it all on my parents and that I should let them know. (Thank God that I did not do so). The next one would give me a depression test every week that I saw him. He placed me on different drugs over the years, all with the same results, but at least the data was of use.

I then found a good man who showed me how to use my brain to help control the pain in my left arm. Two years of little depression. Then he had a stroke. Depression back. Back to other psychiatrist, still more drugs.

Then last year a breakdown in public; result pending police charges (a man with one good arm with two assault police charges), depression deeper, placed in a psych hospital; depression even deeper.

Then my good man came to my rescue, got me out of the hospital and he now treats me (at no charge), ring or visit him at any time. – Anonymous

I refer to the first 3 psychiatrists I saw as quacks #1, #2, and #3. I suffer from severe, chronic clinical depression and have tried nearly every psychiatric medicine known with no permanent success. I was referred to the psychiatrists I saw by an EAP. It turns out that the only requirement to get on the EAP’s list was that these providers apply and send in copies of their licenses.

Quack #1 was relatively innocuous. She prescribed a combination of two tricyclics which gave me severe anxiety attacks. Every other doctor I have seen wonders why she combined those two drugs as no one seems to have ever heard of using them together. She left the area before doing any more damage.

Quack #2 apparently did not believe in taking blood levels. I wound up in the hospital (not once, but twice) with toxic blood levels at therapeutic dosages of the antidepressant I was taking. I later found out that that was not unheard of for those particular drugs.

Quack #3 used to fall asleep in therapy sessions and would tell me it was because my monotone voice put him to sleep. When I finally got angry enough to fire him, he told me I was leaving because we were finally getting to the root of my problems and I was afraid to address my issues. When I asked him what those issues were, he said that I needed to discover them myself. – Gal

I think I know she’s a good therapist because, when friends/family ask how my session went or what my therapist thinks of me, I can’t really give them a pat answer. In other words, she isn’t authoritative or didactic. She listens, responds non-verbally, and then when I’m finished with my latest spiel, she asks me questions about how what I’ve just said relates to past sessions, relationships, my experiences growing up, etc. It feels as if she is quite solidly on my side, no matter what, and I trust her. I’ve described our sessions as my weekly anchor to sanity (no advice from well-meaning friends, no belligerent orders to stop my behaviors, no fear or frenzy for one hour a week…).

I used to be very suspicious of therapy, I think, because of the bad press it gets in our culture. I assimilated this and thought of myself as a spoiled white female who couldn’t solve her petty problems and who wanted to run to therapy (even though she wasn’t “bad enough” to deserve treatment) so someone else could run her life. So I raged and screamed to get attention from my parents (alcoholic father, shy and enabling mother), fell into deep depressions at my lack of perfection, and cut my arm repeatedly to put my anger and pain into a place I could focus on.

Now I feel as if my life is my own and I don’t want to spend another second feeling bitter or loathing myself. I just want new tools and perspectives so I can keep searching. I take 50 to 100mg of zoloft daily (I also take short breaks from it as I see fit–my therapist and psychiatrist both accept my need to control my medication and don’t view my treatment as a power play). I still cut my arm occasionally, but we discuss it and don’t treat it as some terrible backslide. I feel very lucky. I look at my chronic depression and realize that, given my life’s circumstances, much of it was a sane response to insane situations. I feel that I’ve been easy to treat, but had I had a series of “nightmare” therapists, I’d be so much worse off. I’m very grateful to susan for her support. – Laura

I think the thing that amazes me the most about some of the doctors I’ve seen for my episodic depression is that they’ve been so cruel. I wouldn’t say some of the things they’ve said to me to my dog. The first time I got depressed, I was terrified. Therapy was urgent, because of my strong anxiety and complete inability to cope. Naturally, I was referred (by my kind, gentle therapist) to a psychiatrist, which was scary. Was I really that sick? I was highly resistant to the idea of meds, but she didn’t try to allay my fears. “What makes you think you don’t need medication?” she barked, “I think you do.” She convinced me, and I’m glad she did although I’ll never forgive her for treating a suicidal but intelligent teenager like an imbecile. Other doctors I saw were nicer, but there was one last year who was pure evil. I’ll always remember the disgust in her eyes when, in response to the question, “Can you tell me something about this drug I’m taking?” she said, “Don’t you want to have children someday? You are going to harm your children, destroy their lives, if you don’t fix your problems.” Ugh. I think the reason antidepressants take so long to work is that it takes you a month to get over your appointments with your psychiatrist. – Wendy from New Jersey

My first therapist was a social worker (MSW) whom my college roommate (also an MSW) recommended to me. I felt very comfortable with her, but after less than a year, I felt my therapy was at an impasse. (she had suggested meds, which petrified me) and I shut down after that.

I thought I could get along without a therapist but after a few months I realized it was not the case. The next therapist was a social worker too, with training in Freudian analysis, which I have since read is not very good for depression. She was not very empathetic. When I was worried about my parents’ finances because my mother has depression, she said don’t worry about it, they have health insurance and then tried to change the subject, despite the fact that I was worried because their insurance wasn’t paying for some very expensive x-rays. And she wanted to know why I was so upset to find out my mother has lung cancer. (Depressives tend to get overly upset at things, but really, she’s my MOTHER!)

After being with her for almost a year, I realized I needed to do something or I would end up dead. I went to my primary care physician for a referral to a psychiatrist. He asked me a few questions, and a few minutes later he wrote a prescription for Paxil and told me to come back in 6 months.

Well, after that, I called my health insurance, got names of some psychologists. Our first session was an interview, I followed some suggestions from one of my books and asked her a lot of questions — how often she treats depression, etc., etc. I began seeing her and saw a psychiatrist that she recommended. It’s been a hard time finding meds for me (PAXIL was a bad choice for me and it’s taking a while to wean me off.) But all in all I am comfortable with both my psychologist and psychiatrist. – Susan from NYC

I recently had a panic attack. I went to the local clinic and was given Paxil. I found a shrink in the yellow pages, it’s a small town and there was only a choice of two. The one just worked on state cases. I choose shrink number two.

I just got his bill for three sessions. Are you ready for this…$890. My first session I asked his charges. He said $125 for a 50 minute hour, and the first session would go longer, getting background etc. My second session lasted over two hours until I finally said, hey doc, I gotta go. I’m thinking, hey it’s a small town, he’s not busy, maybe he’s interested in my case.

Session number three was going into two hours and I just excused myself, never thinking he has got the clock running.

To sum up, I’ve written the state board of medicine and spoken to their ombudsman, whose first comment was “Jesus”. I’ve flushed the dope down the toilet, and I feel much better thank you very much. – Rodger
Source: www.wingofmadness.com/i-knew-i-had-a-goodbad-psychiatrist-when/

Tips for Parents Who Want to Talk to Children About Depression

Why it's important to be honest during the discussion

If you decide to talk about depression with your child, you may be concerned about saying the "right" thing. However, just having an open and honest discussion with your child can provide her with much-needed support. With a few tips, concerned parents and caregivers can confidently talk about depression with their children.

Keep the Talk Age Appropriate

You want to make sure that your child understands what you are saying and is not confused or bored by the discussion.

Make sure that you are using words that your child can understand. Words such as "depression" or "emotional reaction" are probably too complex for a younger child but may be appropriate for an older child or adolescent. Try comparing her depression to something that your child is already familiar with --- like another illness that your child has had experience with (e.g., flu, ear infection, etc.)

Keep the Conversation Positive

Keeping your depression discussion positive does not mean that you should sugar-coat it. Depression is a serious illness that causes emotional and physical pain, and it can have serious consequences. However, if you maintain a positive and hopeful outlook in your discussions, you will avoid unnecessarily alarming your child.


Be Honest

In talking about depression, do not make promises you cannot keep or go into detail about topics that you are not certain of. Instead, tell your child what you do know, and make a list of questions to discuss with your child's mental health professional.

Be Compassionate

Your child needs to know that you recognize and respect his feelings. Even if you do not quite understand his thoughts, avoid quipping, "What do you have to be depressed about?" or "Don't be ridiculous." Comments like these just cause a child to keep his feelings to himself or become defensive.

Be a Good Listener

Allow your child to talk openly and express his opinions and thoughts. Avoid interrupting, judging or punishing him for his feelings. Knowing that he has someone he can confide in help to sort out his feelings.

While talking to your child about his depression can be a very important part of his recovery, it does not replace the need for professional treatment. If your child is depressed or you suspect depression, consult with his pediatrician or other mental health professionals for accurate diagnosis and treatment.


Feelings Need Check Ups Too. American Academy of Pediatrics.

Communicating With Your Child. American Academy of Pediatrics.

Stress in America: Talking With Your Children About Stress. American Psychological Association
Source: www.verywell.com/how-to-talk-about-depression-with-children-1066652

How Parents Can Talk to Teens About Depression

Explaining depression and discussing treatment options help

When talking with your teen about depression, you will want to consider where she is developmentally and what is currently important to her.

An older child or adolescent naturally begins to pull away from her family and identify with her peers. She is striving to find her identity and working to establish independence from her parents. So, when having a conversation about depression, you will want to address these factors.

Some research has shown that children of parents who take an active role in their child's treatment are more likely to comply with treatment, which increases the likelihood of remission.

Explaining Depression to Your Teen

Comparing depression to another medical illness that your child is familiar with may allow her to understand depression as an illness, her symptoms, the importance of treatment and avoid feeling abnormal. Older children and adolescents are especially sensitive to feeling different or out of place.

For Example: "Depression is a special kind of illness called a mental illness. It is similar to other illnesses like the flu in the way that it can make you feel tired or have a headache. Depression also affects your mood and feelings. It can make you feel sad, lonely, frustrated, angry or scared. What questions do you have about depression?"

Talking About Treatment With Your Teen

Your teenager is more likely to comply with treatment if she understands what it is for, knows what to expect and can have a say in it.

Of course, it is not always practical to allow your child to plan her own treatment, but if you can allow her to even make a small decision (like setting up her next appointment), it may make a big difference in allowing her to feel in control.

For Example: "You will need to take medicine every day and go to therapy once a week so you feel better. In therapy, you will talk to Dr. Smith privately about your feelings and activities, and ask questions. At first, you may have some side effects from the medicine, like feeling extra tired or dizzy, but it should go away soon. That is why you will see the doctor once a month. He will ask about how the medicine is making you feel and will make sure that it is helping you. What do you think of this treatment plan so far?"

Encouraging Supportive Relationships

Even though older children identify more with their peers, depression can cause a child to withdraw from everyone. Having supportive relationships is important for everyone, but it may be especially important for depressed children who already feel lonely or isolated. Having just one friend or supportive adult to talk to can provide a huge benefit to your child. Declare your support and availability to your child, and encourage her to connect or re-connect with friends and share her feelings.

For Example: "I am always here to talk to you about anything. You may want to think about talking to some of your friends about your feelings too. Having supportive and encouraging people to lean on is important. Talking about your feelings can make a difficult time a little bit easier. Which of your friends do you think you might be able to talk to?"

Addressing Myths

Older children may be familiar with the social stigma of mental illness or have heard others say derogatory things about the mentally ill. You may want to address this with your child so that she does not feel like she has to hide or be ashamed of her depression diagnosis.

For Example: "You may have heard people say hurtful or inaccurate things about people with mental illness or depression. Occasionally, when people don't know about things, they will say something hurtful or make incorrect judgments. You should not feel embarrassed or like you have to hide it, but you should make the decision to tell others about depression if and when you want to."

It is mistakenly thought that talking about suicide may plant ideas in a child. In fact, addressing the topic can help her to know what to do if she has suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Remember, though, it is important that you seek urgent medical care if your child is having suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

For Example: "If you are ever feeling like you want to hurt yourself or like you don't want to live, please tell me, or call your doctor immediately. Sometimes feelings can be overwhelming, and you feel like it might never get better. Suicide is permanent and feelings are not. We can help you to work through your feelings. Are you currently having any feelings of wanting to hurt yourself?"

It is hard not to worry about saying the "right" thing to your child about her depression -- but just letting her know that you love and support her speaks volumes.


Communicating With Your Child. American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed: 10/05/2010

Feelings Need Check Ups Too. American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed: June 15, 2010.

Willansky-Traynor, P. Manassis, K., Monga, S. et al. "Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Depressed Youth: Predictors of Attendance in a Pilot Study." Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry May 2, 2010, 19.

Stress in America: Talking With Your Children About Stress. American Psychological Association: Accessed: 10/04/2010.

Suicide Prevention: Youth Suicide. Centers for Disease Control. Accessed: August 14, 2010.


Teen Depression - Boys

Adolescent males face a unique set of pressures.

They're young, they're often highly visible—and they're in deep trouble. America's adolescent boys may look strong as they swagger down the street, but in reality they are the population at highest risk today for all kinds of serious problems.

Rates of anxiety disorders and depression are soaring among them. For the first time, depression among males is nearly as prevalent as among females in this group.

Adolescent males find themselves facing a set of unique pressures. Shifting gender opportunities have left many boys in the dust. The girls may now be equal players on the soccer team, but the boys no longer know the rules of play.

Then too, the boys, as well as their sisters, belong to the first generation of divorce. Instead of a stable and supportive family base to keep them from feeling overwhelmed at times of stress, many are the products of absentee parents and conflict.

And today's boys are facing unprecedented stresses from many directions. While there is less certainty about the outcome of the college race, there is no let up in expectations for male success. There is more career confusion, and paths seem less clear.

Given the disquietude, substance abuse is an easy lure, as is the pressure for early sexual activity. Contrary to popular mythology, boys are just as anxious and confused about sex as the girls are.

But perhaps the biggest problem with today's young males is that they often have mild to moderate alexithymia—they are unable to identify their own (and others') feelings and thus unable to communicate about them. They never learned how from absent or overworked fathers.

However, the ability to communicate feelings is an increasingly important survival skill. It is certainly required for stable interpersonal relationships throughout life—at school, at work, and in the families most expect eventually to create.

For adolescent boys as for anyone, resolving the pressures in one's life involves figuring out how you feel. Alexithymia is like having a padlock on your tongue.

There is an immediate need to take action. If not, our sons face life-threatening consequences—drug and/or alcohol addiction, self-destructive behavior and accidents, suicide, and violence towards others. Such problems are already rampant.

  • Educate yourself about the psychology of boys. Read Real Boys by William Pollack, Ph.D. And if you need more, get Real Boys' Voices, in which boys confide how they are struggling with their masculinity, their sexuality, their future, their harassment from other boys, their feelings, their relationships with their parents and girlfriends, and more. \
    Talk with adolescent boys. Let them know that you're really interested in understanding their experience in the world. Make no attempt to judge the information or control the discussion.
  • Discard the prevailing cultural myth that would have you take a step back from their lives. More than ever, adolescence is a time when kids need your support. Their lives depend on it.
  • Recognize that there is an all-important difference in the way genders display distress. Boys tend to express negative feelings in violence toward themselves or others, in self-destructive behavior and recklessness, and in substance abuse.
  • Take on the task of teaching emotional intelligence. You can't leave its development to chance. But even before you begin, tell the truth—that feelings are good, a source of strength, not a sign of weakness.
    Help the young males in your life to develop an emotional vocabulary. To do this, they need to understand their own feelings and those of others, and put names to what they too often feel as undifferentiated distress.

Then impart emotional management skills. Boys in particular need to learn how to manage stress and the negative emotions—anger, fear, frustration, sadness, loneliness, doubt—because they are at risk for acting them out.

  • Teach empathy. Help boys learn to put themselves in the other person's place.
  • Help boys learn to handle competitive feelings. Males especially need strengthening of the ego so they can be more independent of others' judgment when others are being negative towards them.
  • Teach boys to connect and communicate instead of detaching when they face problems. Interaction always leads to better solutions. Boys need to be openly told that the closer they are to others, the safer and stronger they will feel. Support them in developing a "family of choice," composed of friends and parents of friends. And encourage them to improve relationships in their own family. Instruct males to ask for feedback. They need to ask others how they are coming across. The world is too complicated for anyone to figure these things out alone.
  • Stay connected to young boys even though society pulls you in the other direction. My 13-year-old son occasionally asks me to walk him to school. I wouldn't think of saying no. But he consciously knows he's going to get flack from his peers. So a block from school he invariably says to me, "OK, Mom, now it's time for us to detach." We disengage our hands—but we still discuss what it all means.

Source: www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200207/teen-depression-boys

Teen Depression - Girls

How to get closer to your teenaged daughter and prevent depression.

It's clear that many kids are breaking down in college. But most of the issues affecting them are at play well before they get to college age.

If you wish to understand what is happening with young adults, it's wise to focus on teenagers. We have all heard about the male loner who suddenly blows people up, like the pipe bomber or the Columbine kids. We are learning about the girls who are as aggressive as the boys but who are indirect in their aggression, the so-called mean girls syndrome. They are the most visible symbols of some disturbing trends.

By any measure, our young people are in trouble. Rates of depression and anxiety are soaring—and getting worse. Possibly one out of three teens will end up with significant clinical depression needing treatment. Their suicide rates have tripled.

We need to take action. If you are the parent or sibling of a teenager, or come in contact with them on a regular basis, there is information you need to have and strategies to adopt. I want to focus this article on teenage girls.

  • Make no assumptions that you know what is really going on. Recognize that you are ignorant even though you'd love to believe you're not. Teenagers represent the most classic case of what you see is not what you get. One major reason parents are out of touch is that to be in touch takes a great deal of time and parents are just too harried.
  • Recognize that to be in touch requires new communications skills, and they have to be learned if you expect to connect with and understand these kids. All the skills that worked up to this point no longer work.
  • Turn to the real experts for answers, the people who are immersed in the peer culture teens set up for themselves, adults who work with teens day in and day out and know how to help them. Take workshops and classes where you get hands-on training in skill-building.

One of the best sources of information is The Inside Story on Teen Girls, by Alice Rubenstein, Ed.D., and Karen Zager, Ph.D. The book was published by the American Psychological Association.

  • Appreciate how different their world is from ours, and expose yourself to the culture your kids are immersed in. Look on it as an anthropological exploration. Ask kids what's hip and what they are paying attention to. Watch a half hour of MTV for a couple of weeks. Ask your kids to show you some of their favorite computer games and video games. Look at the magazines teen girls read. Go online to good teen websites.
  • Take all the expertise you've gathered and distill it down to some core action strategies that will work with your particular kids.
  • Let your kids know that you're really interested in learning about them and their lives without judging or controlling—and that it can be at their time and in their way.
  • Make yourself available at the most inconvenient times. Your kids will purposely choose the worst time of your day or week to open up to you. They want to talk when you're exhausted, in bed, and they've just come home at curfew time.

You have to mobilize your values and realize that your exhaustion is not worth missing an opportunity to connect. In the long run connection produces more value than a night's sleep.

  • Whatever else, avoid comments—positive or negative—about body appearance. Any remarks are triggers to cultural craziness on the topic. Instead talk about health and strength.
  • Engage in activities together, which then tend to open up opportunities for communication and connection, rather than sitting down eyeball to eyeball. One of the very best approaches is a shared fitness activity. Walk, run or do yoga together; or go to the gym and lift weights together. Take in a museum exhibit on video art. Go to a movie like Bridget Jones' Diary. But don't go shopping together.

There are many reasons why depression is rampant in young people. They face unprecedented pressures to succeed. The college race is harder and more uncertain than ever. As the pressure has increased, so has anxiety, because adults aren't there to teach kids how to handle it. It's exploding in eating disorders, anxiety disorders and aggression.

This is the first generation of divorce, the product of absentee parents and lots of conflict.

Today's teens face more pressure for sexual activity earlier, a situation that can be very depressing for those who aren't ready or don't know what to do.

There is an epidemic of low self-esteem, because parents haven't had the time it takes to build it. That has left adolescent girls prey to body image issues.

It's critical to go after depression in the young. We now know that there is a kindling effect: the younger you are when you get your first depression, the more at risk you are for serious adult depressions with more frequency. The faster anyone can pick up on depression and its signs in young people, the quicker they can be helped.
Source: www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200206/teen-depression-girls

How to Help Someone with Depression

What You Can Do to Support a Friend or Loved One’s Recovery

When a family member or friend suffers from depression, your support and encouragement can play an important role in his or her recovery. However, depression can also wear you down if you neglect your own needs. These guidelines can help you support a depressed person while maintaining your own emotional equilibrium.

Helping a depressed friend or family member

Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people, from young to old and from all walks of life. It gets in the way of everyday life, causing tremendous pain, hurting not just those suffering from it, but also impacting everyone around them.

If someone you love is depressed, you may be experiencing any number of difficult emotions, including helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and sadness. These feelings are all normal. It’s not easy dealing with a friend or family member’s depression. And if you don’t take care of yourself, it can become overwhelming.

That said, there are steps you can take to help your loved one. Start by learning about depression and how to talk about it with your friend or family member. But as you reach out, don’t forget to look after your own emotional health. Thinking about your own needs is not an act of selfishness—it’s a necessity. Your emotional strength will allow you to provide the ongoing support your depressed friend or family member needs.

Understanding depression in a friend or family member

Depression is a serious condition. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of depression. Depression drains a person’s energy, optimism, and motivation. Your depressed loved one can’t just “snap out of it” by sheer force of will.

The symptoms of depression aren’t personal. Depression makes it difficult for a person to connect on a deep emotional level with anyone, even the people he or she loves most. In addition, depressed people often say hurtful things and lash out in anger. Remember that this is the depression talking, not your loved one, so try not to take it personally.

Hiding the problem won’t make it go away. Don’t be an enabler. It doesn’t help anyone involved if you are making excuses, covering up the problem, or lying for a friend or family member who is depressed. In fact, this may keep the depressed person from seeking treatment.

You can’t “fix” someone else’s depression. Don’t try to rescue your loved one from depression. It’s not up to you to fix the problem, nor can you. You’re not to blame for your loved one’s depression or responsible for his or her happiness (or lack thereof). Ultimately, recovery is in the hands of the depressed person.

Is my friend or loved one depressed?

Family and friends are often the first line of defense in the fight against depression. That’s why it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of depression. You may notice the problem in a depressed loved one before he or she does, and your influence and concern can motivate that person to seek help.

Be concerned if your loved one...

Doesn’t seem to care about anything anymore. Has lost interest in work, sex, hobbies, and other pleasurable activities. Has withdrawn from friends, family, and other social activities.

Expresses a bleak or negative outlook on life. Is uncharacteristically sad, irritable, short-tempered, critical, or moody; talks about feeling “helpless” or “hopeless.”

Frequently complains of aches and pains such as headaches, stomach problems, and back pain. Or complains of feeling tired and drained all the time.

Sleeps less than usual or oversleeps. Has become indecisive, forgetful, disorganized, and “out of it.”

Eats more or less than usual, and has recently gained or lost weight.

Drinks more or abuses drugs, including prescription sleeping pills and painkillers.

How to talk to a loved one about depression

Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to a loved one about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries he or she will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive.

If you don’t know where to start, the following suggestions may help. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You don’t have to try to “fix” the person; you just have to be a good listener. Often, the simple act of talking to someone face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about his or her feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment.

Don’t expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.

Ways to start the conversation:

"I have been feeling concerned about you lately."

"Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing."

"I wanted to check in with you because you have seemed pretty down lately."

Questions you can ask:

"When did you begin feeling like this?"

"Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?"

"How can I best support you right now?"

"Have you thought about getting help?"

Remember, being supportive involves offering encouragement and hope. Very often, this is a matter of talking to the person in language that he or she will understand and respond to while in a depressed mind frame.

What you CAN say that helps:

  • You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.
  • You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.
  • I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
  • When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold on for just one more day, hour, minute—whatever you can manage.
  • You are important to me. Your life is important to me.
  • Tell me what I can do now to help you.
  • What you should AVOID saying:
  • It’s all in your head.
  • We all go through times like this.
  • Look on the bright side.
  • You have so much to live for why do you want to die?
  • I can’t do anything about your situation.
  • Just snap out of it.
  • What’s wrong with you?
  • Shouldn’t you be better by now?

Source: The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Taking care of yourself

There’s a natural impulse to want to fix the problems of people we love, but you can’t control a loved one’s depression. You can, however, control how well you take care of yourself. It’s just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the depressed person to get treatment, so make your own well-being a priority.

Remember the advice of airline flight attendants: put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. In other words, make sure your own health and happiness are solid before you try to help someone who is depressed. You won’t do your friend or family member any good if you collapse under the pressure of trying to help. When your own needs are taken care of, you’ll have the energy you need to lend a helping hand.

Tips for taking care of yourself

Think of this challenging time like a marathon; you need extra sustenance to keep yourself going. The following ideas will help you keep your strength up as you support your loved one through depression treatment and recovery.

Speak up for yourself. You may be hesitant to speak out when the depressed person in your life upsets you or lets you down. However, honest communication will actually help the relationship in the long run. If you’re suffering in silence and letting resentment build, your loved one will pick up on these negative emotions and feel even worse. Gently talk about how you’re feeling before pent-up emotions make it too hard to communicate with sensitivity.

Set boundaries. Of course you want to help, but you can only do so much. Your own health will suffer if you let your life be controlled by your loved one’s depression. You can’t be a caretaker round the clock without paying a psychological price. To avoid burnout and resentment, set clear limits on what you are willing and able to do. You are not your loved one’s therapist, so don’t take on that responsibility.

Stay on track with your own life. While some changes in your daily routine may be unavoidable while caring for your friend or relative, do your best to keep appointments and plans with friends. If your depressed loved one is unable to go on an outing or trip you had planned, ask a friend to join you instead.

Seek support. You are NOT betraying your depressed relative or friend by turning to others for support. Joining a support group, talking to a counselor or clergyman, or confiding in a trusted friend will help you get through this tough time. You don’t need to go into detail about your loved one’s depression or betray confidences; instead focus on your emotions and what you are feeling. Make sure you can be totally honest with the person you turn to—no judging your emotions!

Encouraging your loved one to get help

Beating depression, one day at a time

You can’t beat depression through sheer willpower, but you do have some control—even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key to depression recovery is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day and draw on the support of others. Read: Coping with Depression

While you can't control someone else’s recovery from depression, you can start by encouraging the depressed person to seek help. Getting a depressed person into treatment can be difficult. Depression saps energy and motivation, so even the act of making an appointment or finding a doctor can seem daunting. Depression also involves negative ways of thinking. The depressed person may believe that the situation is hopeless and treatment pointless.

Because of these obstacles, getting your loved one to admit to the problem—and helping him or her see that it can be solved—is an essential step in depression recovery.

If your loved one resists getting help:

Suggest a general check-up with a physician. Your loved one may be less anxious about seeing a family doctor than a mental health professional. A regular doctor’s visit is actually a great option, since the doctor can rule out medical causes of depression. If the doctor diagnoses depression, he or she can refer your loved one to a psychiatrist or psychologist. Sometimes, this “professional” opinion makes all the difference.

Offer to help your depressed loved one find a doctor or therapist and go with them on the first visit. Finding the right treatment provider can be difficult, and is often a trial-and-error process. For a depressed person already low on energy, it is a huge help to have assistance making calls and looking into the options.

Encourage the person to make a thorough list of symptoms and ailments to discuss with the doctor. You can even bring up things that you have noticed as an outside observer, such as, “You seem to feel much worse in the mornings,” or “You always get stomach pains before work.”

Supporting your loved one's treatment

One of the most important things you can do to help a friend or relative with depression is to give your unconditional love and support throughout the treatment process. This involves being compassionate and patient, which is not always easy when dealing with the negativity, hostility, and moodiness that go hand in hand with depression.

Provide whatever assistance the person needs (and is willing to accept). Help your loved one make and keep appointments, research treatment options, and stay on schedule with any treatment prescribed.

Have realistic expectations. It can be frustrating to watch a depressed friend or family member struggle, especially if progress is slow or stalled. Having patience is important. Even with optimal treatment, recovery from depression doesn’t happen overnight.

Lead by example. Encourage your friend or family member to lead a healthier, mood-boosting lifestyle by doing it yourself: maintain a positive outlook, eat better, avoid alcohol and drugs, exercise, and lean on others for support.

Encourage activity. Invite your loved one to join you in uplifting activities, like going to a funny movie or having dinner at a favorite restaurant. Exercise is especially helpful, so try to get your depressed loved one moving. Going on walks together is one of the easiest options. Be gently and lovingly persistent—don’t get discouraged or stop asking.

Pitch in when possible. Seemingly small tasks can be hard for a depressed person to manage. Offer to help out with household responsibilities or chores, but only do what you can without getting burned out yourself!

The risk of suicide is real

What to do in a crisis situation

If you believe your loved one is at an immediate risk for suicide, do NOT leave the person alone.

In the U.S., dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK of the Crisis Text Line at 741741 text SOS.

In other countries, call your country’s emergency services number or visit IASP to find a suicide prevention helpline.

It may be hard to believe that the person you know and love would ever consider something as drastic as suicide, but a depressed person may not see any other way out. Depression clouds judgment and distorts thinking, causing a normally rational person to believe that death is the only way to end the pain he or she is feeling.

When someone is depressed, suicide is a very real danger. It’s important to know the warning signs:

  • Talking about suicide, dying, or harming oneself; a preoccupation with death
  • Expressing feelings of hopelessness or self-hate
  • Acting in dangerous or self-destructive ways
  • Getting affairs in order and saying goodbye
  • Seeking out pills, weapons, or other lethal objects
  • Sudden sense of calm after a depression

If you think a friend or family member might be considering suicide, talk to him or her about your concerns as soon as possible. Many people feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic but it is one of the best things you can do for someone who is thinking about suicide. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a person’s life, so speak up if you're concerned and seek professional help immediately!

Related HelpGuide articles

Resources and references

Helping a depressed person

Helping Someone with a Mood Disorder – Covers how to support a loved one through depression treatment and recovery. (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)

Helping Someone Receive Treatment – What to do (and not to do) when trying to help a loved one get help for depression. (Families for Depression Awareness)

Helping a Friend or Family Member with Depression or Bipolar Disorder – How to help your loved one while also taking care of yourself. (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)

What is the role of the family caregiver? – Tips on how families can work together to manage depression treatment. (Families for Depression Awareness)

Helping a suicidal person

How to Help Someone in Crisis – Advice on how to deal with a depression crisis, including situations where hospitalization is necessary. (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)

Suicidal helplines

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Suicide prevention telephone hotline funded by the U.S. government. Provides free, 24-hour assistance. 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Crisis Text Line - US 24/7 confidential line for any crisis. 741741 text SOS

Samaritans UK – 24-hour suicide support for people in the UK and Ireland call 116 123. (Samaritans)

Lifeline Australia – 24-hour suicide crisis support service at 13 11 14. (Lifeline Australia)

Crisis Centers Across Canada – Locate suicide crisis centers in Canada by province. (Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention)

IASP – Find crisis centers and helplines around the world. (International Association for Suicide Prevention).

International Suicide Hotlines – Find a helpline in different countries around the world.

Source: www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/helping-a-depressed-person.htm

What to do if you are depressed?

Depressive disorders make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression and typically do not accurately reflect the actual circumstances. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. In the meantime:

  • Set realistic goals in light of the depression and assume a reasonable amount of responsibility.
  • Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can.
  • Try to be with other people and to confide in someone; it is usually better than being alone and secretive.
  • Participate in activities that may make you feel better.
  • Mild exercise, going to a movie, a ball game, or participating in religious, social, or other activities may help.
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Feeling better takes time.
  • It is advisable to postpone important decisions until the depression has lifted. Before deciding to make a significant transition-change jobs, get married or divorced-discuss it with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
  • People rarely "snap out of" a depression. But they can feel a little better day-by-day.
  • Remember, positive thinking will replace the negative thinking that is part of the depression and will disappear as your depression responds to treatment.
  • Let your family and friends help you.

For more information: National Institute of Mental Health www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/depression.cfm#ptdep5

Where can I get more information about Depression?

National Institute of Mental Health Information Resources and Inquiries Branch, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663, Bethesda, MD 20892-9663, 301.443.4513, FAX: 301.443.4279, TTY: 301.443.8431, FAX4U: 301.443.5158 or www.nimh.nih.gov or nimhinfo@nih.gov

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), Colonial Place Three , 2107 Wilson Blvd., Suite 300 , Arlington, VA 22201, 800.950NAMI (6264) or 703.524.7600 or www.nami.org

A support and advocacy organization of consumers, families, and friends of people with severe mental illness-over 1,200 state and local affiliates. Local affiliates often give guidance to finding treatment.

Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), 730 N. Franklin St., Suite #501, Chicago, IL 60610-7204, 312.988.1150, Fax: .312.642.7243 or www.DBSAlliance.org

Purpose is to educate patients, families, and the public concerning the nature of depressive illnesses. Maintains an extensive catalog of helpful books.

National Foundation for Depressive Illness, P.O. Box 2257, New York, NY 10116, 212.268.4260; 800.239.1265 or www.depression.org

A foundation that informs the public about depressive illness and its treatability and promotes programs of research, education, and treatment.

National Mental Health Association (NMHA), 2001 N. Beauregard Street, 12th Floor, Alexandria, VA 22311, 800.969.6942 or 703.684.7722, TTY 800.443.5959, www.nmha.org

An association that works with 340 affiliates to promote mental health through advocacy, education, research, and services.

Source: www.facetheissue.com/depression.html  

Who Young People Turn to for Help

Study Shows 900,000 Teens Planned Suicides While Depressed

Approximately 900,000 American teens 12-17 years old had made a plan to commit suicide during their worst or most recent episode of major depression, and 712,000 attempted suicide during such an episode, a new federal study reports. Source: www.healthcentral.com/newsdetail/408/1506914.html

Over half of teachers report kids feel anxiety now that Trump is president

A study from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit political organization, found that over half of teachers report that the kids in US feel anxiety now that President Trump has taken office.

The problem is the most prevalent among Muslims, immigrants, and children of immigrants. Local therapist Anita Gandhia-Smith says kids take on their parents’ anxiety.

What can you do? It's best to talk to your child openly and honestly. They are likely hearing rumors and gossip in school.

Ghandia-Smith suggests reassuring your kids and telling them that it is going to be ok.

"There is an element of having basic trust in the system and in the universe," said Ghandia -Smith.

"Help your children understand that the system has worked for a long time. There are lots of checks and balances."

Mayor Muriel Bowser and other mayors all over the country, have come out and said that D.C. will continue to protect immigrants.

Madeline Albright is the latest prominent figure to come out and say she will register as Muslim if there is a Muslim registry, so Muslims do not feel alone. If your child is struggling with anxiety, here are a few resources that can help:



If you want to contact Dr. Anita Gandhia-Smith: www.fromaddictiontorecovery.com/
Source: www.wusa9.com/news/local/dc/study-half-of-kids-in-the-us-feel-anxiety-now-that-trump-is-president/393802904

A comic that accurately sums up depression and anxiety — and the uphill battle of living with them

Sarah Flanigan has been fighting depression since she was 10 years old and anxiety since she was 16. "I wish everyone knew that depression is not something that people can just 'snap out of,'" she explains. "I mean, if I could 'snap out of it,' I would have by now."

Depression and anxiety disorders are real illnesses. Mental illnesses are not "in someone's head," they're not something a person can "just get over," and they affect so many of us — over 40 million people in the U.S. alone.

Despite how common they are, it's still really difficult to explain to people who may have never experienced a mental illness.

Enter: cute, clever illustrations that get the job done.

Nick Seluk, who creates the amazing comics at The Awkward Yeti, heard from reader Sarah Flanigan. She shared her story of depression and anxiety with him. If it could help even one person, she said, it would be worth it.

Nick turned her story into a fantastic comic that perfectly captures the reality of living with depression and anxiety. (Go to the web site to see the actual cartoon.)

"The hardest part of living with depression and anxiety for me is feeling like I have to hide it," Sarah said. "I've always been known as the happy one in my group of friends. Everyone's always so shocked when I tell them I have depression or they see the self-harm scars."

"It's much harder than it should be to say, 'Hey, I have depression and I've been struggling with self-harm since I was 10 and I just really need your support to get me through tonight,'" Sarah explained.

Let's all keep working to make it easier for our friends, family members, and ourselves to get support. Let's keep talking about it.


These comics were created by Nick Seluk of The Awkward Yeti, published on Tapastic. I'm sharing them with Nick's express permission. He's a really cool guy who has an entire "Medical Tales Retold" series that, until recently, focused on physical conditions. He covers a lot there and makes the difficult reality of living with certain conditions a little lighter. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.

Huge props to Sarah for bravely sharing her story with Nick and, in turn, thousands and thousands of people. She was hoping for just one person to see the comic and know they weren't fighting the battle alone. She more than accomplished that, and we're all better for it!
Source: www.upworthy.com/a-comic-that-accurately-sums-up-depression-and-anxiety-and-the-uphill-battle-of-living-with-them?c=upw1&u=07fa0e7f2d23f338b4a3b29d16b2a71a4c4e496b


Depression is a serious medical illness; it’s not something that you make up in your head. More than a feeling of being “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days, the symptoms of Depression are severe and debilitating. Depression is characterized by feeling “down,” “low” and “hopeless” for weeks at a time. Factors that can contribute to the onset of Depression include stress, poor nutrition, physical illness, personal loss, relationship difficulties and the presence of other physical disorders.

Depression isn’t always easy to detect, and people with depressive conditions can experience different symptoms. It may be expressed through lack of appetite or overeating; insomnia or an unnatural desire to sleep; the abuse of drugs and alcohol; sexual promiscuity; or hostile, aggressive, or risk-taking behavior.

People with Depression tend to experience:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings;
  • Feelings of hopelessness and / or pessimism;
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and / or helplessness;
  • Irritability, restlessness;
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex;
  • Fatigue and decreased energy;
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions;
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping;
  • Overeating, or appetite loss;
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts;
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

What Is Depression?

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.

Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.

Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

Depression Is Different From Sadness or Grief/Bereavement

The death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences for a person to endure. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations. Those experiencing loss often might describe themselves as being “depressed.”

But being sad is not the same as having depression. The grieving process is natural and unique to each individual and shares some of the same features of depression. Both grief and depression may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from usual activities. They are also different in important ways:

  • In grief, painful feelings come in waves, often intermixed with positive memories of the deceased. In major depression, mood and/or interest (pleasure) are decreased for most of two weeks.
  • In grief, self-esteem is usually maintained. In major depression, feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are common.
  • For some people, the death of a loved one can bring on major depression. Losing a job or being a victim of a physical assault or a major disaster can lead to depression for some people. When grief and depression co-exist, the grief is more severe and lasts longer than grief without depression. Despite some overlap between grief and depression, they are different. Distinguishing between them can help people get the help, support or treatment they need.

Risk Factors for Depression

Depression can affect anyone—even a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances.

Several factors can play a role in depression:

  • Biochemistry: Differences in certain chemicals in the brain may contribute to symptoms of depression.
  • Genetics: Depression can run in families. For example, if one identical twin has depression, the other has a 70 percent chance of having the illness sometime in life.
  • Personality: People with low self-esteem, who are easily overwhelmed by stress, or who are generally pessimistic appear to be more likely to experience depression.
  • Environmental factors: Continuous exposure to violence, neglect, abuse or poverty may make some people more vulnerable to depression.

How Is Depression Treated?

Depression is among the most treatable of mental disorders. Between 80% and 90% of people with depression eventually respond well to treatment. Almost all patients gain some relief from their symptoms.

Before a diagnosis or treatment, a health professional should conduct a thorough diagnostic evaluation, including an interview and possibly a physical examination. In some cases, a blood test might be done to make sure the depression is not due to a medical condition like a thyroid problem. The evaluation is to identify specific symptoms, medical and family history, cultural factors and environmental factors to arrive at a diagnosis and plan a course of action.

Medication: Brain chemistry may contribute to an individual’s depression and may factor into their treatment. For this reason, antidepressants might be prescribed to help modify one’s brain chemistry. These medications are not sedatives, “uppers” or tranquilizers. They are not habit-forming. Generally antidepressant medications have no stimulating effect on people not experiencing depression.

Antidepressants may produce some improvement within the first week or two of use. Full benefits may not be seen for two to three months. If a patient feels little or no improvement after several weeks, his or her psychiatrist can alter the dose of the medication or add or substitute another antidepressant. In some situations other psychotropic medications may be helpful. It is important to let your doctor know if a medication does not work or if you experience side effects.

Psychiatrists usually recommend that patients continue to take medication for six or more months after symptoms have improved. Longer-term maintenance treatment may be suggested to decrease the risk of future episodes for certain people at high risk.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is sometimes used alone for treatment of mild depression; for moderate to severe depression, psychotherapy is often used in along with antidepressant medications. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective in treating depression. CBT is a form of therapy focused on the present and problem solving. CBT helps a person to recognize distorted thinking and then change behaviors and thinking.

Psychotherapy may involve only the individual, but it can include others. For example, family or couples therapy can help address issues within these close relationships. Group therapy involves people with similar illnesses.

Depending on the severity of the depression, treatment can take a few weeks or much longer. In many cases, significant improvement can be made in 10 to 15 sessions.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a medical treatment most commonly used for patients with severe major depression or bipolar disorder who have not responded to other treatments. It involves a brief electrical stimulation of the brain while the patient is under anesthesia. A patient typically receives ECT two to three times a week for a total of six to 12 treatments. ECT has been used since the 1940s, and many years of research have led to major improvements. It is usually managed by a team of trained medical professionals including a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist and a nurse or physician assistant.

Self-help and Coping

There are a number of things people can do to help reduce the symptoms of depression. For many people, regular exercise helps create positive feeling and improve mood. Getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis, eating a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol (a depressant) can also help reduce symptoms of depression.

Depression is a real illness and help is available. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the vast majority of people with depression will overcome it. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, a first step is to see your family physician or psychiatrist. Talk about your concerns and request a thorough evaluation. This is a start to addressing mental health needs.

Related Conditions

  • Peripartum depression (previously postpartum depression)
  • Seasonal depression (Also called seasonal affective disorder)
  • Persistent depressive disorder (previously dysthymia)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
  • Bipolar disorders


American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Fifth edition. 2013.

National Institute of Mental Health. (Data from 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.)

Kessler, RC, et al. Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005;62(6):593602.
Source: projectsemicolon.com/what-is-depression/

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