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Updated: October 6, 2010 16:43 IST

Look at the bright side

MANSI PODDAR
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Why sad?: Just let go.
AFP Why sad?: Just let go.

Feeling depressed? Don't be. Just reach out to your loved ones for help.

Teen depression isn't just occasional bad moods or teen angst. It is a serious problem that requires diagnosis and treatment or can lead to irrevocable tragedies like homicide, suicide, addiction. Depression is a problem that impacts every area of a teen's life.

Common signs

Irritable or angry mood: Depressed teens are more irritable than sad. They tend to be grouchy, argumentative, easily frustrated, or prone to angry outbursts.

Unexplained aches and pains: They will often complain about physical ailments such as headaches or stomach aches. If a physical exam does not reveal a medical cause, these aches and pains may indicate depression.

Extreme sensitivity to criticism: They are plagued by constant feelings of worthlessness and are sensitive to criticism, rejection, failure. This is a bigger problem for over achievers.

Withdrawing from some, but not all people: Depressed adults tend to isolate themselves from people but teens usually maintain some friendships. A noticeable change may occur where they begin to isolate themselves from parents, or start hanging out with a new group.

Suicidal thought or behaviour: Because teen depression is common and often ends in suicide, teens should be watched closely for any signs of suicidal thought or behaviour.

Talking or joking about committing suicide. Saying things like, “I'd be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There's no way out.”

Speaking positively about death or romanticising dying (“If I died, people will finally understand my value).

Writing stories and poems about death or suicide.

Reckless behaviour or having a lot of accidents resulting in injury.

Giving away prized possessions.

Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for good.

Seeking out weapons, pills, or other ways to kill themselves.

Help them cope

It is essential to consult a counsellor. Do not think of social stigma...

Communicate your fears with the person

Do not insult them for their feelings

If they mention suicide/sex/homosexuality, try not to freak out and bring up God and dead relatives, but listen and seek help if you are unable to cope.

Encourage them to be free with you.

Self-help

You are not alone. With some help, you will feel better and be able to thrive.

You are not a lazy, bad person because of how you feel.

Talk to a trusted friend or family member, but remember, parents love you and want to see you happy, so take a chance on them.

Things do not last forever and your pain will end.

Depression is not a sign of weakness.

Whatever your gender, it's OK to ask for help and get it.

Mental health is as important as physical health. In fact, the two are closely linked.

Mental health problems are real, and they deserve to be addressed.

Try to not isolate yourself.

Avoid alcohol and drugs, they will make things worse and leave you broke with a set of very angry parents.

Avoid driving when angry or upset; when you do that you put lives in danger.

Find something you love — art, music, dance, writing, reading, cooking, sports, and indulge in it.

Enjoy some sunlight and nature.

Take lots of deep, slow breaths to help you manage stress and anxiety.

The author is a psychotherapist.

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