Taken from the Daily Herald which is found HERE.
“How do you deal with depression?” asked a student in Gregg Thompson’s sixth-grade social studies class at Woodlands Middle School in Gurnee.
Sadness, sometimes crying. Blue, isolated, irritable, sensitive, rejected, angry.
These are feelings some people experience every day. What once made them happy now causes anxiety or mixed emotions. Maybe they have difficulty concentrating, or they sleep a lot.
When these symptoms last more than two weeks, it’s depression.
“Your mind feels like it’s running on empty,” said Dr. Jessica Yeatermeyer, child psychiatrist at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “Things that used to make you happy don’t make you happy anymore. It’s different from being sad about things that would bother anyone.”
People can experience depression at any age. Yeatermeyer described depression in children younger than 12 as irritability.
As kids move into their teens, depression can mean a withdrawal from social activities they used to enjoy. Weight gain, increased appetite, fatigue and sleep problems can go hand-in-hand with depression. Sometimes depressed teens feel numb and harm themselves by cutting to induce feeling. They might have suicidal thoughts.
Yeatermeyer said the character “Sadness” from last summer’s hit Disney movie “Inside Out” realistically portrayed life with depression. At one point the character wisely identified her feelings: “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.”
The National Institutes of Health reports 10 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 experience depression.
There’s good news — depression is treatable.
Depression can stem from several things, Yeatermeyer said.
“Sometimes kids are worried about hard things like money or illness,” she said.
A family history could identify parents or grandparents who experienced depression; it sometimes runs in families. Kids who are bullied or who have difficulty understanding gender identity can become depressed. Yeatermeyer is encouraging when she speaks about the possibility of returning to stability and regaining full energy.
“Many people benefit from talking with therapists. Depression can be episodic, lasting six months to a year. That can give hope to some patients,” she said.
More severe symptoms can require medication, or a combination of medication and therapy, Yeatermeyer said. If you think you might be depressed, talk to your parents, school counselor or doctors. They’ll send you on your way to creating a path to regaining full health.
What if it’s not you who is depressed, but you think a friend might be?
“Counselors are great resources, and don’t be afraid to contact parents — either your friend’s or yours. Try to be open with them and get on it early,” she urges. “They can make sure kids get connected with good interventions.”
How do you start that conversation? “I’m here for you” and “What can I do to help?” are phrases that tell a friend you support them no matter what. Letting them know they will find ways to help bridge through them daily life without depression can help, too.
If the situation seems really serious, and there’s a suspicion of suicidal thoughts, patients or family should contact doctors or visit the emergency room at the hospital. Doctors and therapists tell family and friends to talk.
“There’s good research that shows it helps to discuss these thoughts,” Yeatermeyer reports. “There’s less stigma around mental health issues today.”