Q: For the past four weeks, I've been feeling a lot different than I used to. I have trouble falling asleep at night and trouble staying asleep. I'm also skipping meals. I just don't feel that hungry. I've stopped running. I feel like I have no energy for that. I'm not talking to my friends as much because I feel I'm dragging them all down. I have a hard time focusing on schoolwork, and the smallest things make me cry. I can't control my sadness and was hoping it would pass. My parents say that everyone feels stressed like that from time to time, but I think I need some help. Do I need to see a doctor?

A: Thank you for your question. The short answer to your question is: Yes, you need to talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Most of what you are describing are the symptoms of depression and are not likely to go away on their own. Although everyone can feel sad or "down" from time to time, clinical depression is more than just sadness.

People who are depressed typically experience some of the following nine symptoms:
  • Sadness
  • A loss of pleasure or interest in activities that used to be enjoyable or interesting
  • Sleep difficulties (e.g., sleeping too little or sleeping a lot more than usual)
  • A disturbance in appetite, including a loss of appetite or a significant increase in appetite .
  • Feeling tired or having no energy
  • Feeling worthless or criticizing yourself harshly
  • Difficulties concentrating, thinking, or making decisions.
  • Feeling agitated or sluggish
  • Having thoughts of suicide, thinking that life is not worth living or wanting to end your life.

You do not need to have all of the symptoms listed above. Most people who are diagnosed with depression experience either sad mood and/or loss of interest and pleasure in activities they used to enjoy, as well as a number but not all of the other symptoms listed above. That means that two people with depression can look very different. Although there are screening tests you could take to help you decide if you are experiencing clinical depression, the best course of action is to make an appointment with your doctor or a psychologist. Only a health professional can diagnose depression and help you take steps to feel better.

Click here to take a depression screening test.

Parents

Many of the symptoms of depression, such as sad mood, loss of interest, difficulties concentrating, feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thinking, may not be noticeable to others, including your parents. Your parents may not fully understand the seriousness of how you are feeling, or they may simply not know what to say or how to help. Your doctor or psychologist can help you find ways to communicate what you are experiencing to your parents.

It's serious

It's important to remember that clinical depression is one of the most disabling illnesses in the world, affecting over 300 million people every year. But depression is also a treatable condition. With treatment, you can start feeling better in just a number of weeks.

 

 


  
 
 
      

 
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