Teenage years can be tough, and it’s perfectly normal to feel sad or irritable every now and then. But if these feelings don’t go away or become so intense that you can’t handle them, you may be suffering from depression. The good news is that you don’t have to feel this way. Help is available and you have more power than you think. There are many things you can do to help yourself or a friend start feeling better. Below are a few ideas:
What You Can Do to Feel Better: Tips For Depressed Teens
Depression is not your fault, and you didn’t do anything to cause it. However, you do have some control over feeling better. Staying connected to friends and family, making healthy lifestyle decisions, and keeping stress under control can all have a hugely positive impact on your mood.
In the meantime, you might need therapy or medication to help you while you sort out your feelings. Look into your treatment options with your parents. If medication is being considered, do your research before making a decision, as some antidepressants used for adults can actually make teens feel worse.
Try Not To Isolate Yourself
When you’re depressed, you may not feel like seeing anybody or doing anything. Just getting out of bed in the morning can be difficult, but isolating yourself only makes depression worse. Make it a point to stay social, even if that’s the last thing you want to do. As you get out into the world, you may find yourself feeling better.
Spend time with friends, especially those who are active, upbeat, and make you feel good about yourself. Avoid hanging out with those who abuse drugs or alcohol, get you into trouble, or who make you feel insecure. It’s also a good idea to limit the time you spend playing video games or surfing online.
Keep Your Body Healthy
Making healthy lifestyle choices can do wonders for your mood. Things like diet and exercise have been shown to help depression. Ever heard of a “runners high”? Exercising releases a rush of endorphins, which makes you feel instantly happier. You actually get a rush of endorphins from exercising, which makes you feel instantly happier. Physical activity can be as effective as medications or therapy for depression, so get involved in sports, ride your bike, or take a dance class. Any activity helps! Even a short walk can be beneficial.
As for food, an improper diet can make you feel sluggish and tired, which worsens depression symptoms. Your body needs vitamins and minerals such as iron and B-vitamins. Make sure you’re feeding your mind with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Talk to your parents, doctor or school nurse about how to ensure your diet is adequately nutritious.
Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
You may be tempted to drink or use drugs in an effort to escape from your feelings and get a “mood boost,” even if just for a short time. However, substance use can not only make depression worse, but can cause you to become depressed in the first place. Alcohol and drug use can also increase suicidal feelings. In short, drinking and taking drugs will make you feel worse—not better—in the long run.
If you’re addicted to alcohol or drugs, seek help. You will need special treatment for your substance problem on top of whatever treatment you’re receiving for your depression.
Ask For Help If You’re Stressed
Stress and worry can take a big toll, even leading to depression. Talk to a teacher or school counselor if exams or classes seem overwhelming. Likewise, if you have a health concern you feel you can’t talk to your parents about—such as a pregnancy scare or drug problem—seek medical attention at a clinic or see a doctor. A health professional can help you approach your parents (if that is required) and guide you toward appropriate treatment.
If you’re dealing with relationship, friendship, or family problems, talk to an adult you trust. Your school may have a counselor you can go to for help, or you may want to ask your parents to make an appointment for you to see a therapist.
If your feelings become so overwhelming that you can’t see any solution besides harming yourself or others, you need to get help right away. And yet, asking for help when you’re in the midst of such strong emotions can be really tough. If talking to a stranger might be easier for you, call 1-800-273-TALK in the U.S. to speak in confidence to someone who can understand and help you deal with your feelings. To find a suicide helpline outside the U.S., visit IASP or Suicide.org.