How to Get Over Depression As a Teenager

Three Parts:Getting HelpKeeping Your Mind HealthyKeeping Your Body Healthy

Most people experience feelings of sadness from time to time. When these feelings don’t go away, however, and include feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, then you might be depressed. Fortunately, it’s possible to get over depression by following a treatment strategy.[1]

Part 1
Getting Help

  1. 1
    Identify symptoms of depression. The symptoms of depression are wide ranging and can vary from person to person. If you have been dealing with ongoing feelings of sadness and hopelessness, then you may be depressed. Some other signs of depression include:[2]
    • feeling irritable or easily upset
    • being extra sensitive to criticism
    • having headaches, body aches, or other types of physical pain
    • withdrawing from your parents and friends
    • not enjoying things that you used to enjoy
    • being extra tired for no reason
    • eating more or less than is usual for you
    • having a hard time concentrating in school and/or getting poor grades
    • engaging in high risk behaviors, such as drinking, doing drugs, or reckless driving
    • feeling suicidal; having suicidal thoughts
  2. 2
    Consider possible causes. There are many potential causes of depression. Your depression might even be the result of more than one cause. Some possible causes of depression in teenagers include:[3]
    • Biology and/or hormones
    • Family history of mental illness
    • Trauma from your childhood
    • Negative home environment, such as abuse or neglect
    • Being predisposed to negative thinking
    • Social isolation and/or bullying
  3. 3
    Ask for help. Many teens do not reach out for help, which can make it difficult or even impossible to recover. If you think that you might be depressed, talk to someone about it. Talk to a trustworthy adult, such as a parent, teacher, or school counselor so that you can get help for your depression.[4]
    • To ask for help and start a conversation with one or both of your parents, you might start by saying something like, “I think I am depressed and I want to get some help. Can we talk about it?”
    • Explain how you have been feeling. For example, you might say, “I have been feeling sad most of the time, having trouble sleeping at night, and I have lost interest in things that I used to enjoy.”
    • If your parents are resistant to the idea of you seeing a therapist for depression, then try to explain why you think you need to see one. For example, you might say, “This has been going on for a while. It is affecting my grades, my personal life, and my well-being. I do not think that I can get better on my own.”
    • If your parents still do not want you to see a therapist, you should talk to someone at your school. Depression is a serious mental health issue and you need to seek treatment no matter what.[5]
  4. 4
    Seek immediate help for suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts are common when someone is depressed and they should be taken seriously. If you have been thinking about hurting yourself, then you need to seek immediate help.[6]
    • Tell a parent, teacher, or another trustworthy adult or you can call 1-800-273-TALK if you would rather talk to someone anonymously.
    • Remember that even if a situation seems hopeless, the negative feelings that you are having will pass. Feelings (good and bad) are temporary.
    • Ask someone to stay with you if you have been thinking about hurting yourself.
  5. 5
    Get help for bullying. Bullying is unacceptable and it can cause depression or make your depression worse. When you are being bullied, you may feel worthless, isolated, and lonely. If you are being bullied, talk to a parent, teacher, or school counselor right away.
    • For example, you might say something like, “I have been getting bullied at school.” Make sure that you explain exactly what has been happening, even though it may be hard to do so.
    • Even if the bullying is happening outside of school, you need to speak up. Tell your parents, a teacher, or another adult who you feel comfortable talking to.
  6. 6
    Reach out if you are being abused. Abuse or neglect may also lead to depression for some teens. If you feel unsafe or unloved in your home because you are being abused or neglected by one or both of your parents, then talk to someone at your school for help.
    • If you are in an abusive or neglectful situation, then you can also call 1-800-4-A-CHILD for help, support, and information about resources in your area.
  7. 7
    Talk to someone if you are thinking of running away. An unsafe or unpleasant home environment may also prompt some teens to consider running away. If your home environment is not safe, then you do need to get out. However, taking to the streets is not the answer. Talk to a teacher, religious leader, or another trustworthy adult in your life to find a better solution.
    • If you are considering running away or if you are currently homeless, then you can call 1-800-999-9999 for help.
  8. 8
    See a mental health professional. To treat your depression, you will need to work with a professional therapist or counselor. It might be scary to admit that you’re suffering from depression to a stranger, but in some cases talking to a stranger can be easier.
    • Remember that mental health professionals will not judge you or your feelings and you will be free to express yourself honestly.
  9. 9
    Find a support group. Search your area for a support group that deals with depression. The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance are good sources of information.[7] Go to a meeting and listen to other people’s stories. Participate if you feel ready to do so. Doing so will help you realize that you are not alone and that many people have successfully gotten over depression. It might also provide you with techniques for coping.[8]
  10. 10
    Determine if medication is appropriate. Talk to your primary care doctor about your symptoms. He or she will recommend you to a psychiatrist, if necessary. There are two approved medications for treating teenagers with depression: fluoxetine (Prozac) and escitalopram (Lexapro).[9]
    • Keep in mind that you may need to try different medications and doses before finding the right treatment for you.
    • Do not stop your medication all at once without first consulting your doctor.[10]

Part 2
Keeping Your Mind Healthy

  1. 1
    Make socializing a priority. Depression can make you want to isolate yourself and this can make your depression worse. Instead of staying home alone, skipping school, or isolating yourself in other ways, push yourself to spend time around people.
    • Make sure that the people you spend time around are the kind of people who encourage you and make you feel good about yourself. Don’t spend time with people who criticize you or make you feel bad about yourself.
    • If you don’t feel comfortable spending time with large groups, then just get together with a friend or two. Meet up for coffee, see a movie together, or go for a walk.
    • Join an organization, club, or team sport to be around people who share a common interest with you.[11]
  2. 2
    Think positive thoughts. Be conscious of the way you think about your life and yourself. Identify negative thought patterns and try to replace these thoughts with more constructive ones. Occupy your mind with thoughts that are constructive and uplifting.[12] Give yourself time to change how you think. It takes time to make these adjustments.
    • Keep in mind that negative thoughts can contribute to depression. The best way to overcome negative thinking is to work with a therapist who can help you develop tools and strategies for dealing with negative thoughts.
  3. 3
    Set achievable goals. Create specific goals for yourself that you are likely to complete. Don’t make the goals too big or complex or beyond your capabilities.[13] Completing your goals will help strengthen your sense of confidence, which is important when trying to get over depression.
    • Identify an area of your life that you want to work on or change.
    • Consider your past experiences with this topic or area.
    • Set a realistic standard you would like to achieve.
    • Set a realistic short-term goal for achieving this standard.
    • Make a realistic plan for achieving that goal.
    • Place this plan into action.
    • Keep an eye on your progress periodically.
    • Modify your goal and plan, if necessary.[14]
  4. 4
    Structure your days. Create a daily and weekly schedule for yourself. Write yourself notes as reminders.[15] Center your schedule around positive events as much as possible. Schedule time for yourself after events that might be stressful or make you feel bad. Having a schedule will allow you to maintain focus and avoid situations that lead you into depression. As an example, break up your days into precise sections and note any differences between what you planned and what you actually did. Note how you felt during this time and anything that might have influenced your mood.
    • Early Morning
    • Late Morning
    • Early Afternoon
    • Late Afternoon
    • Evening
    • Night
  5. 5
    Use relaxation techniques to help manage your stress. Stress can be a contributing factor in depression, so it is important to learn effective techniques to manage your stress. There are lots of different ways to manage stress. For example, mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce levels of stress and anxiety and can be used as part of a treatment plan for depression.[16] Find a knowledgeable practitioner before you begin any of the following:

Part 3
Keeping Your Body Healthy

  1. 1
    Maintain a healthy diet. Eat foods that are high in vitamins and minerals and make sure you consume plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Ensure you have enough iron and B-vitamins in your diet to keep your body and mind as healthy as possible.[18]
    • Avoid processed foods with added sugar.
    • Make fish and nuts a part of your diet because they contain omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, which help support brain health and mood.[19]
  2. 2
    Avoid alcohol, drugs and caffeine. Drinking, using drugs, and consuming caffeine in excess can worse feelings of depression, so it is best to avoid these substances. Drink non-alcoholic and caffeine-free drinks when you’re feeling depressed or sad.
    • Drugs and alcohol might give you a short-term feeling of happiness, but will leave you feeling worse afterwards.
    • Caffeine can decrease serotonin, the chemical in your body responsible for making you feel happy.[20]
  3. 3
    Limit computer time. Limit the amount of time you spend on your computer. Some studies show a link between spending a lot of time on the computer and depression.
    • Also, pay attention to what you’re looking at. Studies show a link between people who use social media frequently and depression.[21]
    • Negative or violent content can also make the feelings of depression worse.[22]
  4. 4
    Engage in physical activity. Go for a walk, a run, a swim, or just jump some rope. Any activity where you’re moving your body is good for counteracting the effects of depression. Try to move for at least one hour a day.[23]
  5. 5
    Get enough sleep. Avoid using the computer right before going to bed. Maintain a consistent bedtime schedule and go to bed no later than 10pm. Studies show that teenagers who go to bed at 10pm versus midnight or later were at a significantly higher risk of becoming depressed.[24]

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Categories: Emotional Health and Well Being