Do you wake up every day feeling happy and that everything is going great?  Of course not!  As you go through life, it’s really common and normal to feel a whole range of emotions – that is part of being human, especially when you’re in high school dealing with all the expectations and changes coming at you from every direction.  With most things in life, figuring out your emotions and knowing what’s common and normal will help you keep things in perspective and move on.   When it comes to a condition called depression, it’ll be really helpful to know the difference between the sad or down feelings that go with a full life and the emotions that go along with depression.

So, how do you know if it’s just “the blues?”
It’s normal to feel low or sad at times in life – and it’s really common to feel down when you’ve had an upsetting experience or a really bad day.  Usually when this happens, you’re still able to get on with your day and do the things you absolutely have to do. This type of sadness and down mood doesn’t last long – it usually goes away when the situation improves or after time passes and you work the problem out.

Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) – and other depressive disorders – are very different from the blues.   MDD is a significant change in your mood from how you usually feel and can last for a long time (months) if you don’t get help.  With MDD, the low mood and sadness lasts at least for weeks – during that time, you have a constant feeling of sadness and heaviness nearly all day, every day and you lose interest in just about everything including the things that you used to enjoy and the people that usually made you happy. People with MDD can’t get even the simplest things done or care about taking care of themselves. Sometimes, people with MDD feel so low and hopeless, they have thoughts of hurting themselves, death or suicide.

What are some of the thing you might feel or experience with depression?
A person who is struggling with depression will notice that they feel constantly down and sad most of the day, all day for weeks.  They could also feel worthless, guilty, and irritable and might have thoughts about death and suicide.  If you have depression, it is common to have trouble with your concentration, making decisions, and you’ll notice changes in your sleep and appetite.  Often, depressed people will stop caring about how they look and taking care of themselves and lose interest in the things and people that used to make them happy.

What do you do if you think that you or someone you know has depression?
The important thing to remember is that things can get better, and that asking for help from people you trust like friends, teachers, coaches, and parents is the best first step toward feeling like yourself again.  Little things like getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, staying away from alcohol and drugs, and getting exercise might improve how you feel, but sometimes even after all of this, it’s necessary to see a professional for treatment and recovery.  It is good to ask for help if you feel like everything you try isn’t working.

After you’ve talked to a doctor, counselor or therapist about your feelings and struggles, you’ll find out the best way to treat your depression.  Read more about depression and treatment for depression here.

If you or someone you know is depressed and having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, it is always best to ask for help, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.  You can also call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text “START” to 741-741.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.