WHAT TO DO WHEN A FRIEND IS DEPRESSED
A Guide for Teenagers
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public
Health Service Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health
Administration NIH Publication No. 94-3824
As a teenager, you know that these school years can be
complicated and demanding. Deep down, you are not quite sure
of who you are, what you want to be, or whether the choices
you make from day to day are the best decisions.
Sometimes the many changes and pressures you are facing
threaten to overwhelm you. So it isn't surprising that from
time to time you or one of your friends feels "down" or
But what about those times when a friend's activity and
outlook on life stay "down" for weeks and begin to affect
your relationship? If you know someone like this, your
friend might be suffering from depression. As a friend, you
1. FIND OUT MORE ABOUT DEPRESSION.
Q. What is depression?
A. Depression is more than the blues or the blahs; it is
more than the normal, everyday ups and downs. When that
"down" mood, along with other symptoms, lasts for more than
a couple of weeks, the condition may be clinical depression.
Clinical depression is a serious health problem that affects
the total person. In addition to feelings, it can change
behavior, physical health and appearance, academic
performance, and the ability to handle everyday decisions
Q. What causes clinical depression?
A. We do not yet know all the causes of depression, but
there seems to be biological and emotional factors that may
increase the likelihood that an individual will develop a
depressive disorder. Research over the past decade strongly
suggests a genetic link to depressive disorders, depression
can run in families. Bad life experiences and certain
personality patterns such as difficulty handling stress, low
self-esteem, or extreme pessimism about the future can
increase the chances of becoming depressed.
Q. How common is it?
A. Clinical depression is a lot more common than most people
think. It affects 10 million Americans every year.
One-fourth of all women and one-eighth of all men will
suffer at least one episode or occurrence of depression
during their lifetimes. Depression affects people of all
ages but is less common for teenagers than for adults.
Approximately 3 to 5 percent of the teen population
experiences clinical depression every year. That means among
100 friends, 4 could be clinically depressed.
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