Everyone feels down in the dumps at times. Flunk an important final? Your girlfriend or boyfriend dump you? Your team lost the big game? Have a family member seriously ill? If you are normal, you feel bad – depressed – about these things.
Being depressed is different than suffering from depression. You get over being depressed. Fail a test, and you may put that behind you in a few hours. Lose a pet – or a family member – you may grieve for days or weeks. That is normal.
Being depressed slides into depression when it does not go away – and seems like it never will. You feel worse and worse – a gray fog settles in and hovers over your life.
Does This Describe You?
- You feel sad or cry – a lot. It does not go away
- You feel guilty, without any reason to be. You feel like you are no good.
- You have lost your confidence, and cannot seem to find it.
- Life seems meaningless, possibly not worth living.
- It is hard to make up your mind. You cannot concentrate, and you forget things
- Little things make you lose your temper, and you overreact.
- Your eating and sleeping patterns change. You cannot do anything but eat or sleep, or you have problems eating or sleeping.
- You want to be left alone most of the time – sports, music, hanging with friends, stuff you liked – no longer interests you.
- When you do something special and outstanding, it seems unimportant, or not even worth doing.
Everyone experiences some of these from time to time. The more of these that describe how you feel most of the time the more likely you are to be suffering from depression.
Take a test. Next time you get really down in the dumps, force yourself to do something active.
Shoot hoops if you were into that, play an instrument, or simply take the dog for a long walk. Do it for at an hour or so.
Feel better, afterwards? You should. Do something active and your brain pumps out serotonin. Serotonin sends messages the brain interprets as, “I feel good.” If you feel just as down afterwards as you did before, something is wrong. You are not just depressed – you are suffering from depression.
If you do feel better – maybe a lot better – we are not done yet. The next day do you feel just as down, just as blah as before? You know that doing what you did the day before will make you feel better. Despite that, do you feel that there is no point to doing it again? If so, you are not just down – you are suffering from depression.
Three out of ten teens with depression get involved with drugs or alcohol. Twelve out of every thousand teens with depression attempt suicide. One in ten of these succeed.
Depression is treatable. Talk to your parents, or find an adult you can trust about getting help. See your doctor. But get help.
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Written by Mark N Lardas, copyright 2007, Mark N. Lardas, all rights reserved. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.