In many ways, hitting an emotional low is just like realizing you were the only one of your friends to get sick on the ride. It’s totally human and normal, but feeling blue can make you feel isolated, embarrassed, and like nobody could possibly understand what you’re dealing with.
But before we go any further, let me just say there’s a huge difference between throwing up (and by throwing up, I mean being mega bummed) and actually giving up or thinking about suicide.
If you are thinking about hurting yourself or anyone else–get help now. Tell a parent, teacher, or call 911.
But aside from thinking about suicide or hurting yourself–how can you tell the difference between having a lousy day and actually dealing with depression? The only way to know for sure if you’re experiencing what mental health pros call a Major Depressive Episode is to see your doctor or a therapist. But if you’re simply not feeling like yourself, there are a couple questions you can ask yourself first:How long have I been feeling down?
If you’ve been feeling sad, super cranky, or just sort of numb almost every day for at least two weeks, you could be depressed. You might also feel empty, or like you don’t really care about the things you used to care about.
Is my mood getting in the way of my life?
Depressive symptoms get in the way of everything: school, social life, work, family—if you’re feeling low enough that it’s stopping you from living the fabulous life you could be living, it’s time to check in with a professional.
What other symptoms am I experiencing?
If you’re depressed, you also notice a few other things are off. You might not be able to sleep or eat, or maybe you’re eating and sleeping more than usual. You could feel exhausted, or have a tough time concentrating on school or work. Maybe you’re feeling more jittery than usual, or like your body has slowed down and it’s tough to find the energy to go about your day. You could be feeling worthless, or start to have thoughts of suicide.
All of these symptoms are serious, and if you’ve been struggling with any combination of them for two weeks or more, you might need a hand to get back to normal. Talk to your doctor–and know that there is absolutely no shame in needing help. If you think your parents might freak and think you’re “crazy,” or think you’re being overly dramatic, talk to a school counselor or school nurse who can help you get the help you need.
The thing to keep in mind is that you’re absolutely not alone. Just like many people get sick on roller coasters, many people get depressed–especially girls, who experience clinical depression twice as often as guys. The good news is that depression is treatable, and things can get a whole lot better. Better to the point where you’ll be smiling again. Promise.
Everyone is different, and a single blog post like this one isn’t a substitute for medical advice. If you’re worried you might be depressed or you have questions about depression, have your doctor recommend a good mental health therapist.
For girls who have struggled with suicidal thoughts, please call a help line like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). I may not have met you, but you matter to me.
How are you doing? Have you ever needed help? Tell me in the comments.