Everyone feels sad every now and then. And sometimes, it can be unclear whether you have depression or a different ailment.
For instance, one common misconception is that depression is simply a state of mind. However, many people experience debilitating physical symptoms, like chest pain and brain fog.
That being said, how are you supposed to know when you need professional help?
If your depression…
- Is lasting
- Is seriously interfering with your ability to function socially or academically
- Is causing you to contemplate or plan to commit suicide
… Try to get help as soon as possible.
Depression is not only hard to endure, it can also feel paralyzing. If you’re experiencing mental and/or physical symptoms of depression, don’t ignore them—prolonged depression can lead to even more severe symptoms.
Depending on the type and severity of your depression, your symptoms may be highly treatable. It’s worth exploring different ways to relieve your suffering.
The first step, though, is to acknowledge that you need help.
It's totally normal to feel awkward or uncomfortable asking for help, especially when you’re not sure how others will react. You may have had negative experiences in the past that make it difficult for you to ask for help now.
Rather than being distracted by the discomfort of asking for help, try to focus on your main goal: to improve your mental health.
What does depression look like?
When someone is depressed, it can be difficult to see joy or happiness in their own life and the world around them. Things that used to be fun or relaxing may lose their luster. When you can’t enjoy the things you used to, it can create even more frustration and sadness.
Depression tends to develop over the course of a few months or years. Sometimes it's not easy to spot changes in mood. It’s not immediately obvious--you might start by struggling with the little things, and you might tell yourself it’s temporary and it’ll pass. But when your low mood is persistent and affects your ability to focus in school, interact with others, or take care of yourself, it’s probably time to get help.
Common symptoms of teen depression
When should I get help for depression?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), there are a few specific symptoms to look out for. You should look for professional help if you’ve been experiencing these symptoms for two weeks or longer.
When to get help for depression
getting evaluated for depression
Identifying depression in can be difficult because symptoms vary between individuals, and it can be episodic, appearing to come and go. Only a doctor, psychiatrist, or other qualified mental health professional can diagnose teen depression.
How to Get Help for Depression
If you feel depressed and are trying to deal with it on your own, you should know that there is help out there. Depression is a serious mental health issue that should be treated as soon as possible.
Start a conversation with your parents about getting help for depression. You can talk to your primary care physician about your symptoms; your physician will help you decide whether you'll benefit the most from medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with someone face-to-face, online therapy is just as effective.
You have more power over depression than you may think! Don’t be afraid to ask for help so you can live a happier, healthier, and more hopeful life.