Depression and High School student
Depression can occur during adolescence, a time of great personal change. You may be facing changes in where you go to school, your friends, your after-school activities, as well as in relationships with your family members. You may have different feelings about the type of person you want to be, your future plans, and may be making decisions for the first time in your life.Many students don"t know where to go for mental health treatment or believe that treatment won"t help. Others don"t get help because they think depression symptoms are just part of the
typical stresses of school or being a teen. Some students worry what other people will think if they seek mental health care.This fact sheet addresses common questions about depression and how it can affect high school students.
What is depression?
Depression is a common but serious mental illness typically marked by sad or anxious feelings. Most students occasionally feel sad or anxious, but these emotions usually pass quickly- within a couple of days. Untreated depression lasts for a long time and interferes with your day-to-day activities
What are the symptoms of depression
Different people experience different symptoms of depression. If you are depressed, you may feel:
You may also experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
Lack of energy
Problems concentrating, remembering information, or making decisions
Problems falling sleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much
Loss of appetite or eating too much
Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
Aches, pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not go away.
Depression in adolescence frequently co-occurs with other disorders such as anxiety, disruptive behavior, eating disor-ders, or substance abuse. It can also lead
to increased risk for suicide.
Are there different types of depression
Yes. The most common depressive disorders are. The symptoms of major depression are disabling and interfere with everyday activities such as studying, eating, and sleeping. People with this disorder may have only one episode of major depression in their lifetimes. But more often, depression comes back repeatedly.
Dysthymic disorder-also called dysthymia .Dysthymia is mild, chronic depression. The symptoms of dysthymia last for a long time-2 years or more. Dysthymia is less severe than major depression, but it can still interfere with every-day activities. People with dysthymia may also experience one or more episodes of major depression during their lifetimes.
similar to major depression and dysthymia. Symptoms of minor depression are less severe and/or are usually shorter term. Without treat-ment, however, people with minor depression are at high risk for developing major depressive disorder
Other types of depression include:
depression-severe depression accompa-nied by some form of psychosis, such as hallucinations and delusions.
Seasonal affective disorder
disorder-depression that begins during the winter months and lifts during spring and summer.
What causes depression
Depression does not have a single cause. Several factors can lead to depression. Some people carry genes that increase their risk of depression. But not all people with depression have these genes, and not all people with these genes have depression. Environment-your surroundings and life experiences-also affects your risk for depression. Any stressful situation may trigger depression. And high school students encounter a number of stressful situations.
How can I find out if I have depression
The first step is to talk with your parents or a trusted adult who can help you make an appointment to speak with a doctor or mental health care provider. Your family doctor or school counselor may also be able to help you find appro-priate care.
The doctor or mental health care provider can do an exam to help determine if you have depression or if you have another health or mental health problem. Some medical conditions or medications can produce symptoms similar to depression.
The doctor or mental health care provider will ask you about:
Your history of depression
Your family"s history of depression
Your medical history
Alcohol or drug use
Any thoughts of death or suicide
How is depression treated
A number of very effective treatments for depression are available. The most common treatments are antidepres-sants and psychotherapy. An NIMH-funded clinical trial of 439 teens with major depression found that a combination of medication and psychotherapy was the most effective treat-ment option.1 A doctor or mental health care provider can help you find the treatment that"s right for you.
What are antidepressants
Antidepressants work on brain chemicals called neurotrans-mitters, especially serotonin and norepinephrine. Other antidepressants work on the neurotransmitter dopamine. Scientists have found that these particular chemicals are involved in regulating mood, but they are unsure of the exact ways that they work
If a doctor prescribes an antidepressant, how long will I have to take it
You will need to take regular doses of antidepressants for 4 to 6 weeks before you feel the full effect of these medicines. Some people need to take antidepressants for a short time. If your depression is long lasting or comes back again and again, you may need to take antidepressants longer
What is psychotherapy
Psychotherapy involves talking with a mental health care professional to treat a mental illness. Types of psychotherapy that have been shown to be effective in treating depressioninclude:
CBT (Cognitive-behavioral therapy )
which helps people change negative styles of thinking and behavior that may contribute to depression
IPT(Interpersonal therapy )
which helps people understand and work through troubled personal relationships that may cause or worsen depression.
Depending on the type and severity of your depression, a mental health professional may recommend short-term therapy, lasting 10 to 20 weeks, or longer-term therapy.
How can I help myself if I am depressed?
If you have depression, you may feel exhausted, helpless, and hopeless. But it is important to realize that these feel-ings are part of the depression and do not reflect your real circumstances. Treatment can help you feel better.
To help yourself feel better:
Give treatment a fair chance-attend sessions and follow your doctor"s or therapist"s advice, including advice about specific exercises or "homework" to try between appointments
Engage in mild physical activity or exercise
Participate in activities that you used to enjoy
Break up large projects into smaller tasks and do what you can
Spend time with or call your friends and family
Expect your mood to improve gradually with treatment
Remember that positive thinking will replace negative thoughts as your depression responds to treatment
How can I help a friend who is depressed
If you think a friend may have depression, you can help him or her get diagnosed and treated. Make sure he or she talks to an adult and gets evaluated by a doctor or mental health provider. If your friend seems unable or unwilling to seek help, offer to go with him or her and tell your friend that his or her health and safety is important to you.
Encourage your friend to stay in treatment or seek a differ-ent treatment if he or she does not begin to feel better after 6 to 8 weeks.
You can also:
Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement
Talk to your friend, not neces-sarily about depression, and listen carefully
Never discount the feelings your friend expresses, but point out realities and offer hope ,Never ignore comments about suicide.
Report comments about suicide to your friend"s parents, therapist, or doctor
Invite your friend out for walks, outings, and other activities-keep trying if your friend declines, but don"t push him or her to take on too much too soon Remind your friend that with time and treatment, the depression will lift.
What if I or someone I know is in crisis
If you are thinking about harming yourself or having thoughts of suicide, or if you know someone who is, seek help right away.
Call your doctor or mental health care provider
What efforts are underway to help high school students who have depression
Researchers continue to study new ways to diagnose and treat depression in high school age students. Some scientists are also looking into different ways to classify symptoms, which may provide news clues about how the disorder devel-ops and which treatments are most effective. Increasing the early detection and treatment of depression can help more students succeed academically and achieve their goals in school and after graduation.
March J, Silva S, Petrycki S, Curry J, Wells K, Fairbank J, Burns B, Domino M, McNulty S, Vitiello B, Severe J. Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS) team. Fluoxetine, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and their com-bination for adolescents with depression: Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS) randomized controlled trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2004; 292(7): 807-820.
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For more information on depression
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National Library of Medicine clinical trials database http://www.clinicaltrials.gov
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