You've probably heard your peers or seen posts on social media throwing around the word “depression.” They could be describing feelings ranging from sadness to extreme fatigue, but there is a lack of clarity on what depression really is. Depression is a clinical diagnosis, and it can look different for each person struggling. Neolth is committed to spreading awareness regarding mental health for students and providing personalized resources for students.
The three most common types of depression seen in teens are Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Persistent Depressive Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder. In teens, symptoms of major depressive disorder include feelings of despair and helplessness, low self-esteem, sleep problems, changes in appetite or weight, acting irritable or hostile, and suicidal thoughts or attempts. In 2021, it was estimated that around 20% of teens in the United States aged 12-17 have had one major depressive episode. Persistent depressive disorder symptoms are similar to MDD, but last at least one year. Teens with bipolar disorder experience mood swings that switch between depression and mania. Symptoms of mania include inflated self-esteem, lack of need for sleep, engaging in reckless activities like reckless driving or drug use, euphoric feelings, and hallucinations.
Let’s address some common beliefs about depression in teens that are not true:
Myth: teenagers who appear to be irritable just have an attitude. The truth is, irritability can be an indicator of depression, and it’s important to see if other symptoms of depression are present.
Myth: teenagers are just lazy. The truth is, teenagers who struggle with depression often struggle with low energy and motivation.
Myth: Depression is the same as sadness. The truth is, Depression is a serious, lasting condition and may affect teenagers’ ability to care for themselves and attend to school. It’s not “just a phase,” and should be taken seriously.
Myth: only weak or ungrateful people get depressed. The truth is, Depression is a medical condition that can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity. People who struggle with depression are not weak or ungrateful.
Myth: Depression looks the same for everyone. The truth is, people might look ‘normal’ on the outside and still attend to day-to-day tasks while struggling with Depression. On the other hand, some people with depression might not be able to attend to their established daily routines such as showering or cleaning their room. Everyone exhibits different symptoms, which is why it is critical to screen for mental health issues.
People with depression often struggle with other mental health disorders, too. Those with depressive disorders are at a higher risk of struggling with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, eating disorders, and substance abuse in addition to their depression, often making their symptoms of both disorders worse.
TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION
There is hope in getting better with depression! About 80-90% of people who receive professional help gain some relief from their symptoms. Professional help includes talk therapy and/or antidepressant medication, and are effective methods used to treat depression. There are also ways self-care can help, including lifestyle changes like regular exercise, quality sleep, avoiding alcohol and drugs, staying connected with friends and family, and a healthy diet. In addition, incorporating relaxation and wellness practices such as journaling and breathing exercises can help you care for yourself on a day-to-day basis.
NEOLTH AND SELF CARE
If you are a student who is struggling with depression, or depressive symptoms, Neolth can help you build a routine of wellness practices. Neolth is a digital stress and mental health support program focused on Youth mental health, with self-guided content, personalized for your mental health journey. With Neolth’s app, you can learn breathing and meditation practices as a form of self-care. There is also a community support system containing stories from students as well as advice from mental health professionals. Neolth has a growing community of Student Ambassadors from 170 schools and works with schools to improve access to mental health support for their students and teachers alike. You can learn more at neolth.com or sign up today at cloud.neolth.com.