UNDERSTANDING DEPRESSION

Depression can affect anyone

There’s no one cause of depression. And there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Depression impacts different people in different ways — and for different reasons. Learning more about that can help you find support or help someone who needs you.

Depression in children and teens

Growing up isn’t easy — family problems, peer pressure, and issues around sexuality and gender identity can be overwhelming. Ups and downs are normal — but if you know a child or teenager who might be depressed, talk to them about it. And if you’re a young person who’s struggling, find your words and ask a trusted adult for help.

Signs of depression in kids and teens

It can be especially challenging for younger people to talk about depression. Symptoms can be different in kids and teens — so it’s important for adults to know what to look for:

  • Trouble concentrating or decline in grades

  • Frequently getting in trouble at school

  • Being consistently down, negative, and/or irritable

  • Drug or alcohol use

  • Talking about suicide in person or on social media

  • Signs of self-harm (cutting, burning, etc.)

  • Social isolation, rejecting or losing friends

  • Talking about or trying to run away from home

Talking to kids about depression

You may have to try more than once. If they shut you out at first, keep trying to start the conversation. Be gentle but persistent about sharing your concerns, and let them know you’re always there to listen.

Honor their feelings. You can’t talk someone out of feeling depressed. Resist the urge to say things like, “things aren’t that bad,” or “you’ll grow out of it,” even if their problems seem silly or small to you.

Trust your instincts. If they say they’re fine but you know something isn’t right, it’s important to get them talking. If not to you, then to another trusted adult, like a teacher, counselor, or pediatrician.

Depression and diversity

Our beliefs, values, language, and lifestyle affect our attitudes about mental health conditions. Our cultural backgrounds help shape the way we talk — or don’t talk — about depression, and whether we feel comfortable seeking help.

For example, diverse groups — like Latinos. external page, African Americans. external page, and members of the LGBTQ. external page community — may face additional stigma, and have different risk factors. Teens. external page and veterans. external page can also have unique needs. It’s important to know that help is available for everyone — and acknowledge that different people need different support.

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