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Depression: What You Need to Know

It's normal to feel moody or sad at times. But with depression, a sad or bad mood lasts for weeks, months, or even longer.

Depression affects more than a person's mood. It can affect the way they act, and how well they do in school. It also can affect their energy, sleep, and eating. Depression can even contribute to physical symptoms, like headaches and stomachaches. If people are depressed, they find it hard to enjoy things like before.

Most of all, depression affects how people think and feel about themselves. And how close (or distant) they feel from others. People going through depression often feel alone. It might seem like no one understands or cares. They may feel bad about themselves. They may blame themselves for having a hard time.

People who are depressed can sometime feel hopeless and to not want to live. They can have some thoughts of suicide (I don’t want to live, I wish I were dead) or even try to hurt themselves.

But depression is not a person's fault. It's not a personal failing. And it's more common than most people think.

Depression can start small. But it can build and get worse. That's why it's good to take care of it as soon as you can.

Depression gets better with the right attention and care.

If you think you might be depressed:

  • Talk to an adult in your life. 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 show they care.
  • Talk with your doctor or with a mental health expert. You can ask your parent (or adult in your life) to set up a visit for you. Your doctor or therapist can talk with you, listen, and check for depression. If you do have depression, they can explain how therapy can help you and how to get started.
  • If you don't have an adult you can turn to, reach out to someone at a help line. There are people there to talk with 24/7. They can listen and guide you on how to get the help you need. In the United States, start with SAMHSA's free helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357) for provider referrals in your area. Or you can text your zip code to 435748 (HELP4U) for referrals.
  • If you are having thoughts of suicide or think you might be in danger of hurting yourself, get help right away. You can:
    • Talk with an adult right away. 
    • Call or text 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, or contact them through their website.
    • Text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. 
  • Find out what you can do to take good care of yourself too.

If you are going through depression, there are many things that can help you get better. And there is always someone who will help.

Reviewed by: Lisa M. Buckloh, PhD
Date Reviewed: Aug 14, 2022

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