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Teen Depression Symptoms: I’ve Learned to Look Out for Certain Signs

Updated on June 10, 2013
Don't let teen depression rule your life.
Don't let teen depression rule your life. | Source

When I first started suffering from teen depression symptoms, I didn’t realize. I thought I was home sick and struggling to fit in at my new school. It was in my early 20s that I realized the symptoms I had were those of depression and they had started when I was 16. Since then, I have learned how to deal with my depression and the symptoms to look out for to avoid a relapse.

I started suffering from depression when I was 16. I struggled to fit into my new boarding school and had recurrent injuries that prevented me from taking part in the many sports and events. I never thought much of it at first and just thought it was home sickness and tiredness from struggling to sleep, which is one of the symptoms of depression according to Mayo Clinic.

I was in my 20s when my now-husband organized a doctor’s appointment for a diagnosis. I was lucky to have a doctor who understood my feelings and wanted to reach the root of the problem. He avoided anti-depressants and started me on cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which also helped me understand the common symptoms of teen depression.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy and How It Helped

According to Mayo Clinic, cognitive behavior therapy helps patients become aware of their negative or inaccurate thinking. This is something that I struggled with for many years. I often looked at everything with a glass half empty approach but since using the techniques learned with CBT, I have been able to look at more events with optimism.

During my sessions, I learned more about the teen depression symptoms that I had been suffering with for so long. According to NHS Choices, depression is a persistent feeling of sadness over a series of weeks or months.

It is common for teenagers to feel sad or down for a day or two but I felt sad the majority of the time. I found it difficult to find joy in the things that I was doing and dreaded the thought of something that was happening later in the day. This is common in patients with depression but it treatable.

I also learned that my insomnia was a sign of depression. I struggled to sleep so much that it affected my school work and the ability to take part in all the training sessions to my fullest ability. The doctor at the college prescribed me sleeping tablets, which helped me sleep but they did not help the root of the problem.

I found that my insomnia was due to feelings of worry and anxiety for the next day and running through everything that had happened during the day. I would focus on the negative points of the day and make myself feel worse. This also affected my confidence and ability to make friends.

Turning a Negative into a Positive

My cognitive behavior therapy sessions only lasted a couple of months. Within that time, I was able to talk about my feelings and learned how to turn something that I thought was negative into a positive. For example, not having enough money for gas for the day would usually be a negative and make me want to go back to bed but I saw it as a chance to walk and have a healthier lifestyle.

Understanding the symptoms has helped me look out for a relapse. I don’t think I will ever be cured of depression but I can prevent it from causing the problems that it has in the past. I just need to catch it early and start taking the steps to think brighter and find something that I enjoy.

I often worry when I have a sad day and start to worry about it continuing for a few days. However, I have learned to look at the reasons why I feel down. This helps to prevent the feelings continuing longer than they have to; preventing that relapse. By knowing why, I can take fix the problem at hand.

Most of the time it is because I’m tired so I ask my husband to look after our daughter so I can get a couple of extra hours sleep. I am lucky to have him as support and that he understands my mental illness.

Loss of My Passion

When I was suffering with teen depression symptoms, I found that I lost interest in passions and hobbies. Swimming was important for me but I would rather sit and read magazines or books instead of jumping in the pool.

According to NHS Choices, exercise is a great way to help depression. It increases the amount of control a person has over their life, which is sometimes missing in patients with depression. I have since found that more exercise has increased the amount of energy that I feel I have. I feel good after a workout and want to keep going.

It is easy to sit and do nothing when you feel tired and sad but I have found that the best thing is getting up and moving around. I have games for my Nintendo Wii, which I use when the weather is bad, go swimming or go for walks around the block with my daughter to make sure she gets enough fresh air.

Another hobby that I once enjoyed and started to lose passion for was writing. This has helped me improve my mental illnesses considerably since I now have a way to face my feelings. Every day, I write in my diary like I am talking to a friend. I tell my diary how my day went, the feelings I experienced during the day and why I experienced those feelings. I also started looking for ways to help others with their feelings, which this is one of those ways.

Writing has also become an escape for me. It is a way to go into another world and deal with problems in there. Sometimes I use my own problems and tell the story through the eyes of my characters but I can also focus on more serious problems than mine. I often refer to it as fun writing but it is also therapeutic.

Signs of Teenage Depression

I Can Take Control of My Life

Now that I know the teen depression symptoms to look out for, I can take more control over my life. I no longer let my moods affect my daily routine. I still have the odd down day but it never lasts longer than a couple of days. I have accepted that the odd sad day is just a normal part of life and doesn’t necessarily mean that I am suffering from a relapse.

I look after myself more to help prevent a relapse. I eat healthily and make sure my diet is balanced. I also exercise on a daily basis, whether it is pulling out the Wii Fit or taking my daughter for a walk around the park.

When something bad happens, I try not to focus on the negatives instantly. It doesn’t always work – just after Christmas my car broke down completely and I had to buy a new car on very little money and instantly focused on the negatives – but most of the time I can control my mood. I thank my CBT sessions for that and it is something that I will continue to apply in the future.

Please note that all of this is for informational purposes only and not medical advice.


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    • aingham86 profile image

      Alexandria Ingham 5 years ago from UK

      I'm sorry to hear that you weren't offered CBT right away, thewritingowl. I guess I was lucky to have a doctor who was happy to give me all my options instead of sticking with something that would solve the symptoms but not the issue. I'm glad to say that writing has become a passion again. Thanks for voting up. Hopefully this will help others out there.

    • thewritingowl profile image

      Mary Kelly Godley 5 years ago from Ireland

      Hi aingham86, I am glad you got help for your depression and that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was effective for you. My story is like your in a lot of ways. I too first suffered from severe depression in my teens but didn't first get a diagnosis for it until I was 30. I was prescribed antidepressants but not counseling for a good few months after that . I have always wished I had been offered C.B.T. rather than Prozac. Counseling for me helped so much and as you say to see the glass as half full and to look at my good points i.e. to get back to my writing as if you like it I think that in itself is great therapy. Voted up.