It is important to understand what teen depression is. Many believe that being sad about something is the same as being depressed. This is not true. When a teen sufferers with depression, they maintain a level of constant sadness. This could be from a number of reasons but in most cases, the teen does not know why.
The best way to help others to understand is to imagine or draw out three lines. The bottom line represents the 'bottom level', the second line represents the 'middle level' and the third line represents the 'top level'.
- The bottom level is labeled, 'not depressed'. This is a teen that has the basic up and downs, who have had something happened that has caused them to be sad. The sadness felt is real. This difference is this teen has learned to cope with their sadness.
- The middle level is labeled, 'depressed'. A teen that finds themselves here has had something in their life that they have not been able to cope with. The teen does not understand the dark cloud that comes and goes. This teen can appear to be happy on the outside but are torn up with confusion on the inside. Nighttime is the worst part of their day. There is no one there with them causing them to put that 'fake' smile on their face. Many say this teen just wants 'attention' but what they really want is to be happy, all the time. When in this constant depressed place, anything negative causes an increased amount of sadness.
- Unable to cope with the original cause, these teens find themselves trying to escape the hurt. This is the top level labeled, 'major depressive mode'. Anything negative will send a depressed teen to this level. An act that might appear to be harmless, such as a post on social media, creates the same amount of pain that may be experienced with the death of a loved one. There are no limits. Wanting to understand the pain this teen is feeling once at this level causes them to create a pain. This is where a teen will choose to self harm. This act gives the teen control of the pain, and a brief relief of all the pain inside. It is not a act done for attention.
This is why it is important to make all aware. If your teen, best friend, girlfriend or boyfriend tries to talk about the pain they feel, do not tell them to just get over it. They wish it was that easy. Love and support is what is needed.
Teen depression is real and we all need to take action when being aware of a loved one who is struggling. Please, do not turn the other way. These teens do not want to feel this way.
Let's help them grow their wings; their story is not over yet.