Am I Depressed?
It's normal to feel moody or sad at times. People often work through it on their own. But when a sad feeling lasts for a couple weeks or longer, or affects your daily life, it could be a sign of depression.
What Are Signs & Symptoms of Depression?
Depression affects how people think and feel about themselves, and how they act. The signs can be subtle and easy to miss. Someone with depression may:
- feel easily annoyed or act grouchy
- focus on failures, feel guilty, or be self-critical
- lose interest or enjoyment with friends, activities, or school
- engage in risky behaviors, like drug and alcohol use, or self-harm
- sleep too little or too much
- have a change in eating habits
- have low energy or trouble concentrating
- have headaches, bellyaches, or other pain
- think or say things like “I wish I were dead”
Depression can affect anyone but is more common in people with a family history of it. It’s also more likely after a stressful or traumatic event — like a serious illness or parents’ divorce.
What if I Think I Might Be Depressed?
First, you’re not alone. Depression is common among teens. The best thing you can do is to get help to feel better. Here are some ways to do that:
Talk about it. You can turn to a parent, teacher, mentor, or coach. Let them know what you're going through. It can help you feel more hopeful and less alone just to have someone listen and care.
If you don't have an adult you can turn to, reach out to a helpline. They're staffed by people you can talk with 24 hours a day. They can listen and guide you on how to get the help you need. In the United States, contact:
- SAMHSA's free helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Or you can text your zip code to 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you.
- The Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQ community. Call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678.
The staff can help you without ever knowing your name or seeing your face. All calls are confidential, so no one you know will find out that you called.
Take care of yourself. People are better able to handle emotions when they eat well, get enough sleep, keep a consistent routine, and stay active. If you don’t feel like working out, consider starting small with activities like walking, stretching, deep breathing, or other relaxation exercises.
Limit screen time. Watching or reading upsetting content can cause more feelings of depression, helplessness, or anxiety. Looking at a screen also makes it harder to fall asleep, so turn off your devices at least an hour before bed.
Make an appointment with your doctor. They can suggest ways to feel better and might refer you to a therapist or psychologist, who can help you better manage your emotions. Schedule a visit as soon as you can.
Get treatment, if needed. Treatment may include therapy, sometimes along with medicine. One type of therapy your doctor may recommend is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT can help you:
- understand how thoughts, feelings, and actions affect each other
- replace negative thoughts with more helpful ones
- strengthen personal relationships and take steps to prevent future depression
- teach you ways to cope with strong emotions and challenging situations
- return to activities you previously enjoyed
How Can I Get Help in an Emergency?
If you are having thoughts of suicide or think you might be in danger of hurting yourself, get help right away:
- Talk with a trusted adult right away.
- Call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, or get help on their website.
- Text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
If you’re going through depression, many things can help you get better. And there is always someone who will help.