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Your feelings

Feeling sad

depressed girlAs a teenager, there are so many changes taking place in your body and with your emotions that it can be very overwhelming. You might feel like you are in a great mood one minute and a bad one the next. This roller coaster of emotions is normal. It's OK to have the blues sometimes and there are things you can do to feel better. Try these tips to improve your mood:

  • Know that what you are going through is very common.
  • Find a way to relax, such as sitting down and taking a deep breath or taking a shower.
  • Talk to your friends, parents/guardians, teachers, counselors, or doctors about what you are feeling. They can help you sort through your emotions.
  • Get some exercise. When you exercise, your body makes more special chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins can help improve your mood.
  • Make sure that you get enough rest. Being tired can make you feel more stressed.

If you have started getting your period, you may find that you feel sad on the days before or during your period. This is normal and happens to many girls. You can use this calendar to track your period and to track the days you feel sad to see if they are the same.

There is a big difference between having the blues and having depression. Depression is a serious illness that affects many young people. The good news is that depression can be treated. Make sure to talk to your doctor or school counselor about any worries you have about depression.

How will I know if I have depression?

Before puberty, boys and girls are equally likely to develop depressive disorders. By age 15, however, girls are twice as likely as boys to have serious depression. While some signs of depression can seem a lot like just having the blues, there is a way to know if you need to talk to your doctor about depression.See your doctor about depression if you have many of the symptoms below and if they get in the way of your day-to-day living.

Daughter and father ignoring each other

What if I can’t talk to my parents about my feelings? What if they aren’t listening to me?

If you feel that you can’t talk to your parents about your feelings, find another trusted adult to help you. You could try talking to a teacher, a school counselor, a coach, or a friend’s mom or dad. You could talk to someone at your church, temple, or mosque, or a doctor or nurse. While it is hard to reach out for help when you are feeling very sad, it’s important that you keep at it.

Symptoms of depression

  • Sadness or crying that you can’t explain
  • Major changes in the way you eat, such as not eating or over-eating
  • Being crabby, angry, worried or nervous
  • Feeling negative or not caring about anything
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Thinking about death or committing suicide
  • Sleep changes, such as sleeping more or having trouble sleeping
  • Not being able to focus or make a decision
  • Not being able to enjoy the things you usually enjoy
  • Not wanting to spend time with your friends
  • Feeling restless or tired most of the time

If your doctor decides that you do have depression, there are many ways it can be treated. The important thing is to get help.

How can I help a friend or relative who is depressed?

With all the changes taking place and new demands on your time, it is normal for you and your friends to feel down sometimes. If you have a friend who has been down for weeks, she or he may be dealing with depression. There are ways you can help. To learn how, check out What to do when a friend is depressed (PDF - 78KB) Adobe PDF document from the National Institute of Mental Health.

To help a friend or relative:

  • Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
  • Engage your friend or relative in conversation, and listen carefully.
  • Never shoot down the feelings your friend or relative expresses, but point out realities and offer hope.
  • Never ignore comments about suicide. Report them to your friend's or relative's parent, teacher, school counselor, school nurse, therapist, or doctor.
  • Invite your friend or relative out for walks and other activities. Keep trying if he or she says no, but don't push him or her to take on too much too soon.
  • Remind your friend or relative that with time and treatment, the depression will get better.

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Content last updated May 18, 2010

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.