What is Depression?

Depression is a mental illness, treatable with proper medical care. Depression includes lasting feelings of:

  • Sadness
  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Unworthiness
  • Guilt
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Declining school work
  • Changes in sleeping or eating

Who gets Depressed?

The picture of depression changes as the child enters adolescence. Many people experience their first bout with major depression during adolescence, although they may not be aware of it. It commonly appears for the first time between ages 15 and 19. Recent surveys reveal that as many as 20% of high-school students are deeply unhappy or have some kind of psychiatric problem. Suicide is a particular danger for this age group.

Depressed teenagers nearly always experience changes in thinking, such as low self-esteem and self-criticism. In this age group, depression is often disguised as substance abuse. It may be acted out in risk-taking or problems with authority.

Depressed teenagers may become anti-social, restless, negative, over sensitive, uncooperative, or aggressive. They may abuse drugs or alcohol and stop going to school. Because most of these symptoms are to some degree considered typical of adolescent behaviour in our culture, teenage depression often goes undiagnosed and untreated.

Warning Signs

Young people can experience many upheavals during their teen years, making it difficult to recognize the difference between serious depression and their reaction to the normal "bumps in the road" that often occur during this time of life. Some signs that suggest that a teen may be depressed are:

  • Using alcohol and drugs
  • Falling grades, poor attendance, or behavioural problems at school
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Having chronic and serious conflicts with parents after long-standing good relations
  • Anti-social behaviour or problems with the law
  • Irregular sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Physiological aches, pains and illnesses that can not be traced to a physical cause

Reference: Canadian Mental Health Association
Publication: Depression-What is it? What to Do?

Getting Information

If you are depressed, talk to your doctor or counselor, they can help you or call the Distress Line at 780-482-4357

Canadian Mental Health Association