Everyone goes through times when they feel sad or down. For most people, these times
come and go. But when these feelings are around all the time, it can make it hard
to live your life.
Depression is more severe and lasts longer than common sadness. As many as one in
five teens experience depression. Depression interferes with other parts of your
life, like work, school, or relationships. Fortunately, there are many treatments
for depression, and with the right kind of help, people can overcome it and lead
happy, healthy lives.
What is depression?
Depression is more than feeling sad or having a bad day. People with depression
usually experience other signs like the following for two weeks or longer:
If these problems are keeping you from participating in your day-to-day activities,
you should consider talking to someone you trust about how you're feeling. This
person might be a family member, a friend, someone a little older you look up to,
or a teacher. They can help you sort through feelings, put things in perspective,
or just be there to listen to you vent. They can also help you find ways to get
more help like seeing a doctor or therapist. You don't have to tackle this all by
What causes depression?
It's not always clear, but there are many things that can increase a person's chance
of getting depressed. Here are some common things that can lead to depression:
- Feeling lots of stress
- Going through a difficult life event
- A big life change, even if it was planned
- Using alcohol or drugs
- A medical problem
- Taking a medication that is known to cause depression
- Having blood relatives who have had depression
How is depression different from sadness?
Everyone has bad days and times when they feel sad. Sadness can turn into depression,
but depression and sadness are different in these ways:
- Duration (how long the feelings last): Depression is felt on most days and lasts
at least 2 weeks, usually much longer
- Severity (how intense the symptoms get): Depression makes it hard for you to live
your life and do the things you want to do
Who gets depression?
Anyone can get depressed. Depression can happen at any age and to any type of person.
But the following types of people seem more likely to get depressed than others:
- Women and girls
- People who smoke
- People with medical problems
- People who are stressed
How long does it last?
Depression might only last a few weeks or it may last many months. For many people,
depression is only a problem during really stressful times (like a breakup or the
death of a loved one). For other people, depression happens off and on throughout
their life. But for both groups, there are treatments that can help reduce the symptoms
and shorten how long the feelings last.
How is depression different from withdrawal from smoking?
Feeling irritable, restless, or down is common after you quit smoking. These are
symptoms of withdrawal from nicotine. Changes in mood from quitting smoking usually
get better in one or two weeks, and they are not as serious as depression.
If you find that you are feeling down after quitting smoking, then you should talk
about this with friends and family and also call your doctor.
If I get depressed after quitting smoking, should I start smoking again?
No. It might be tempting to start again, but you should look for other ways to get
help with your depression. Smoking is not a treatment for depression. And remember,
smoking is linked to many serious health problems for both the smoker and the people
around them. Finding ways to help your depression AND quit smoking is the best way
Is it worth getting treatment for depression? Yes! Treatment almost
always helps. Many people think that depression is not real, can't be all that bad,
or is a sign that they are simply not tough enough to deal with life. None of these
are true. Getting treatment for your depression is definitely worth it.
What are the treatments for depression?
There are many good treatments for depression. There are two basic types of treatment
for depression 1) talking to a therapist or counselor and 2) taking medications.
Many people use both types of treatment.
Talking to a stranger probably sounds scary, but talking to a professional is really
helpful for a lot of people with depression. You do not need to feel embarrassed
about talking openly and honestly about your feelings and worries. Working on ways
to help improve your mood is an important part of getting better.
For many people with depression, taking medication is a useful tool in helping them
get better. Antidepressant medications won't solve all your problems, but they can
help you to even out your mood and be better able to handle events in your life
that are making your mood worse.
Your doctor or a qualified mental health professional can help you figure out what
treatment is best for you.
Taking care of you
Therapy and medication are often important pieces of treating depression. In addition
to getting help from others, there are many things you can do to help yourself.
Stay active. This can include something simple like taking
a fast walk or something more structured like going to the gym or playing a team
sport. Any kind of activity can help. If you need to, start small and build over
time. This can be hard to do when you are down or depressed because feeling down
saps all your energy. But making the effort will pay off! It will help you feel
Structure your day.
Create a plan to stay busy. It is especially important to get out of the house whenever
Talk to and do things with other people.
Many people who are feeling depressed cut themselves off from other people. Having
daily contact with other people will help your mood.
Build rewards into your life.
For many who are depressed, rewards and fun activities are often missing from their
lives. It is helpful to find ways to reward yourself. Even small things add up and
can help your mood.
Do what used to be fun.
A common sign of depression is not wanting to do activities that you used to find
fun. It may take a little time, but doing those activities again will help improve
your mood. Some people like to make a list of fun events and then do at least one
Talk with friends and loved ones.
Their support is a key to your feeling better. Having a chance to tell them your
concerns can help things seem less scary.
NOTE: This information is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis
of major depression. It cannot take the place of seeing a mental health professional.
It is common for people who are feeling bad to think about hurting themselves or
dying. If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of self-destruction or
suicide, please seek immediate help. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour
crisis center or dial 911. 1-800-273-TALK is available 24/7 to provide free, private
help to people in crisis. The
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA),
a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, runs the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
(Para obtener asistencia en español durante las 24 horas, llame al 1-888-628-9454).
You might feel like smoking helps you get through times when you just can't deal.
But although you might feel better in the moment, smoking isn't really helping.
You probably feel better while smoking because you're taking a time out. The actual
smoking doesn't really have much to do with feeling better. There are other ways
of coping without smoking. See if any of these works for you:
Ways to Cope and Not
have a Smoke
1. Take a time-out.
A short break from a stressful or upsetting situation can help you think more clearly
and make a healthy decision about what to do next.
2. Express yourself.
Text or call a friend to "vent" or talk to an adult who you think will understand
how you are feeling.
3. Distract yourself.
Take a walk, play a game, or read a good book.
4. Move your body.
If you are feeling low, take a walk or jog around the block.
5. Rehearse and practice dealing
with stressful situations.
If you are nervous about talking to your teacher, practice what you will say in
front of a mirror. Got a big performance or game coming up? Picture yourself nailing
6. Make lists and set short-term
Break down your large tasks into smaller steps. Then cross off each step as you
go to see your progress.
7. Don't let negative thoughts
If you are feeling down about yourself or about life, make a list of things that
you are grateful for.
8. Give yourself a break.
Instead of demanding total perfection from yourself, allow yourself to be happy
with doing a pretty good job. Just aim to do your best, knowing you don't have to
9. Exercise, eat regularly, and
get plenty of sleep.
Being physically run down can make it much harder to deal with a bad mood. Take
care of yourself.
10. When you are feeling extremely
upset, use the Stop-Breathe-Think method:
Take a timeout and stop, think about what's going on, and take a deep breath.