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Teen Depression: What to Know

Signs that you might be depressed, and what to do about it.
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There's a lot going on in your life -- school, friends, relationships, body changes -- so it's no surprise that your emotions are all over the place sometimes.

So how do you know if your roller coaster of feelings is normal or something that could be a problem? Start by asking yourself these questions:

Did You Know?

Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will cover preventive mental health services, including screening tests for depression and alcohol misuse, at no cost to you. Learn more.

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  • Have you stopped doing things that you used to really like to do -- like baseball or track, dance, or school clubs? Not that you switched from soccer to lacrosse because you like it better, but instead, are you giving up activities because nothing seems as fun as it used to?
  • When your friends want to go out to the mall or hang out, do you say "no" a lot, because you just don't feel like it?
  • Have your grades been slipping?
  • Do you fight a lot with your parents?
  • Do things annoyyou a lot more lately, for no obvious reason?
  • Do you feel tired a lot, but have trouble going to sleep?
  • Do you find yourself eating a lot to feel better? Or maybe having no appetite?
  • Do you feel guilty or anxious, like there's something wrong with you?
  • Do you ever think it might be better if you weren't around anymore?

If you answer "yes" to more than one or two of these questions -- or even just to the last one -- then you may be depressed. And that means you need help -- now -- to figure out what's going on and what to do about it.  Talk to a parent, your doctor, a counselor, or another adult you trust.  

What Is Depression?

You might say, "I'm not depressed! I don't feel sad all the time." But depression isn't just about feeling sad. It's a "mood disorder" -- that is, it can affect your mood in all kinds of ways.

Some depressed people feel really sad and cry a lot. Others are just grumpy and feel like they hate the world.

"You just feel lousy and can't explain why," says psychiatrist Robert Findling, MD, of Case Western Reserve University.

It can be tricky to tell if you're depressed or just down.

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