Teens and young people

Depression and teens

Why do I feel so unhappy all the time?

It is often in our teenage years that we have our first experience of  feeling sad and low to the degree that it starts to affect all aspects of our lives. There are lots of reasons why this can happen:

  • Things start to get more challenging at school – there is more pressure, the work gets harder and the stakes are higher. Your performance at school can start to affect the choices you are able to make once you leave school.
  • Your body is changing – you are physically transitioning to adulthood. These changes can be both exciting and scary. If your experience of puberty comes earlier or later than your peers this can be really difficult to cope with.
  • There are lots of firsts – first crush, first boyfriend/girlfriend, first kiss, first breakup. These experiences are highly emotional with potential for both joy and heartbreak.
  • People can be cruel. And teenage peers are the worst of all. Often being a teenager means dealing with teasing and bullying, social isolation and humiliation as you strive to be accepted in your peer group.
  • Our relationships with our parents are changing. For many this can be a good thing, as you move towards a more adult relationship with your parents. But almost everyone experiences some conflict with parents and other family members as we all struggle to adjust to the changes.
  • Adolescence is often a time when we are developing an understanding of the world and our place in it. Many adolescents find themselves with deep questions about the meaning of life, and struggle to find their sense of purpose. This can be particularly difficult if you find yourself questioning the beliefs of your family or community.
  • ‘There’s something wrong with me.’ ‘I’m not good enough.’ It is often in adolescence that issues of poor self-esteem can really start to affect our mood and make us feel terrible.

Do I need help?

Unfortunately it is normal to have times when you struggle and feel sad. Let’s face it, this stuff can be hard. Here are some signs that you may need to get extra help and support:

  • If you’re feeling sad and miserable most days, and this goes on for weeks or months.
  • If you find that you’re withdrawing from lots of the things you used to enjoy. Perhaps you’ve been giving up some of your out-of-school activities, or have been avoiding hanging out with your friends.
  • If you’re finding that you lack motivation and energy and have a persistent feeling of ‘What’s the point?’
  • Some adolescents find that they start thinking about self-harm or suicide. These are really strong indicators that you are struggling emotionally and need help. You can find more information about what to do when you are feeling unsafe here.

What to do next:

  • The first step is to acknowledge that you need help. It is OK to feel like you can’t deal with this on your own. And help is out there.
  • Talk to someone you trust – perhaps your parents, a teacher or your best friend. Having a safe place to talk about your feelings and get emotional support is really important.
  • Seeing a psychologist can really help. We have clever strategies that can help you to deal with problems such as bullying, stress and low self-esteem. The goal is to help you find your motivation and zest for life and to help you move towards the things that important.

Feeling unsafe right now?

The most distressing and dangerous parts of depression are thoughts of self harm and suicide. If this is how you feel, you need to first keep yourself safe.

More on keeping safe

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