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A girl looking sad.Depression is not the same as sadness. Everyone feels sad sometimes. That's normal. Depression also involves things like feeling hopeless and having very little energy. Keep reading to learn about more signs of depression.

Depression can feel absolutely awful. It can kill your energy, steal your joy, and ruin your friendships. Sometimes depression is mild and your life doesn't feel completely changed. Other times, depression is very strong and you might feel like everything is hopeless. But treatment for depression works well. If you think you have depression, get help. You can feel better!

Depression in teens is pretty common. In fact, around 3.1 million U.S. teens (nearly 1 in 8) have had major depression in the last year, according to a recent survey. Learning about depression can help you and others. You can read about the following topics:

Girls and depression

Before puberty, boys and girls face equal chances of getting some form of depression. But between the ages of 12 and 17, girls are about three times as likely as boys to have major depression.

Could I have depression? arrow. top

Everybody feels down sometimes. Usually, we get over it quickly, like in a couple of days. But depression can stick around for weeks or months.

You could have depression and not know it. If you have depression, you might feel really bad about yourself or about your life but not know why. Keep reading to learn signs that you may have depression.

If you have some of the following issues and they get in the way of your day-to-day life, get help.

  • Sadness or crying that you can't explain
  • Big changes in the way you eat, such as overeating or not eating
  • Being crabby, irritable, angry, or restless
  • Being worried or nervous
  • Feeling negative, guilty, or worthless
  • Sleep changes, such as sleeping more or having trouble sleeping
  • Trouble focusing or making decisions
  • Not being able to enjoy the things you usually enjoy
  • Not wanting to spend time with your friends
  • Feeling tired most of the time or not having the energy to do things
  • Having aches or pains that don't go away
  • Thinking about death or suicide

It's important to get help if you think you may have depression. Treatment can help you feel so much better. If your depression doesn't get treated, it can get worse. Also, the sooner you get treatment, the better it may work.

Mind matters

Depression is a serious mental health problem that teens can develop. You can learn more about depression in teens, including its causes and types. One type of depression teens can get is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which usually strikes in the fall or winter.

People who have depression may try to lessen their pain in unhealthy ways. A person who is depressed may try cutting herself to turn the pain into something physical. She might look for escape by trying drugs or alcohol or eating a lot of food. She might even try drinking a lot of energy drinks for a boost. None of these will make depression go away. In fact, all of these can make problems worse and create new problems. If you have depression, talk to people who care about you, and get help from a mental health professional.

Teens also can have other mental health conditions. These might come alone or together with depression.

Getting help for depression arrow. top

Treatment for depression usually works really well. Treatment can include medicine and talk therapy. You can learn more about getting help through medicine and about therapy.

If you think you may need treatment for depression, you can start by talking to your parents or guardians.

Getting help

If think you may have depression, get help. Talk to an adult you trust. You can find sources for mental health treatment near you. If you are thinking about suicide, contact Lifeline by chat, or by phone at 800-273-TALK (8255). For immediate help, call 911.

Helping someone who is depressed arrow. top

Lots of young people feel sad or stressed at times. But if you know someone who has been down for weeks, that person may be dealing with depression. Don't be afraid to ask if that person is having trouble. Talking about depression does not make it worse, but ignoring it can.

Here are some tips for helping someone who may be depressed:

  • Encourage the person to get help. Many teens don't look for the help they need. That's too bad, because treatment can work well.
  • Talk with a trusted adult. A depressed person may feel too drained or hopeless to get help. You are doing the person a big favor by talking to a caring adult for them.
  • Be patient. Depression is a real illness. Someone who has it can't just decide to be in a better mood.
  • Talk and listen. Offer support and understanding. Pay attention when the other person wants to talk.
  • Never shoot down the other person's feelings. Arguing won't help. You can't convince a depressed person that their life is okay. You can say how you see things, though. Just remember to be gentle.
  • Offer hope. Remind the person that with time and treatment, depression definitely can get better.
  • Invite the person out. Suggest something simple, like a walk. Keep trying if the person says no, but don't be pushy.
  • Never ignore comments about suicide. Talk to the person's parent or guardian or to a teacher, school counselor, school nurse, or doctor.

One girl's experience

"A friend who's depressed needs support. I noticed that when I got depressed, a lot of friends ran out on me because they just couldn't handle it … but if you're a friend and you feel like you're stable enough yourself and can handle another friend, your support is very much appreciated — a friend's support. And how you can go about supporting them is just hanging out with them. You don't have to talk to them always about their problems and stuff, or, like, do anything special — you just have to be a good friend."
— Anonymous


Content last reviewed January 07, 2015
Page last updated August 24, 2018