Hey Brandon. It’s like I feel sad ALL THE TIME. My friends keep asking me, “Hey, you ok?” and I just say, “It’s nothing.” The truth is, I’ve had some pretty sad things happen in my life. But, I still don’t want that to keep me from being happy for once. Any advice?
Down In The Dumps Dude
Hey Down In The Dumps Dude,
Thanks for reaching out and sharing how you feel. That’s a really tough first step. It sounds like you’ve had to deal with some really tough stuff in your life and I’m sorry to hear that.
Even without sad stuff happening, it’s very normal for tweens and teens to be moody. That’s partly because of wonky hormones, and it can make it tough to know when you’re feeling normal sadness/moodiness/hormone stuff, and when you’re really dealing with depression. It’s important to consider whether it might be depression though, because that’s a serious thing you shouldn’t deal with by yourself.
The thing is, depression isn’t just about your mood. Depression changes how you think. It makes it hard to notice or enjoy good things in your life. It sucks up the energy, motivation, and concentration you need for regular daily activities.
Here are some signs of depression that you should watch out for—and FYI everybody who’s reading this, just because you have a few of these symptoms sometimes doesn’t mean you’re depressed. It’s more if you have a bunch of them at the same time and they don’t go away for more than a couple of weeks.
- Change in appetite – eating more or less than normal.
- Losing interest in friends and activities you used to enjoy
- Sleeping way more or less than usual
- Grades going down
- Obsession over body image
- Feeling generally frustrated, but not sure why
- Unable to complete simple tasks that used to be easy
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Personality changes or frequent emotional outbursts
- Frequent headaches/stomachaches/body aches
- Lack of interest in the future
So basically, if you’ve got several of these things going on and you just can’t shake it, you need to see a doctor. They’ll want to rule out anything medical – like sometimes you might be low on some vitamins and it’s an easy adjustment with supplements. But they’ll be able to assess if you’re depressed. And if you are, then they’ll suggest some further steps. They’ll probably include some of the following:
- Counseling – Sometimes depression is caused by sad stuff going on in your life, and it sounds like that might be the case for you. Talking to someone about your feelings can really help. A counselor or therapist is there to listen, not to judge, and to give you tools to help you through when you’re feeling really down.
- Nutrition, Sleep and Exercise – It’s so hard, because when you’re depressed, the last thing you want to do is go for a jog or make yourself a healthy snack, and sometimes part of depression is that you CAN’T sleep. But all those healthy steps can really make a difference in your depression. So your doctor might suggest some changes in how you eat, sleep, or exercise. No one’s going to make you run a marathon. You can take baby steps. On the days it’s a struggle to just get out of bed, try to at least walk outside to the mailbox.
- Medication – This won’t come until some of the other steps have been tried, and medication alone is never the answer, but it can be helpful in combination with the other steps. Sometimes depression is a chemical imbalance – it has to do with a lack of neurotransmitters, which are these things in your brain that help you feel happiness. So some medications can help balance things out in your brain. Your doctor will know if this is right for you.
Basically, the thing is to reach out and get help. You’ve started by reaching out to me, which was an awesome first step. And now I’m telling you to reach out to an adult in your life who can help you figure out the next steps to take. Depression will tell you it’s hopeless, or you’re not worth the bother, but DEPRESSION LIES. Okay? You matter, you’re worth it, and you can feel better, with the right support!