I’m 16 and I’m not really sure what to do with myself. The past few months have been really hard; my “depression” has gotten really bad. (I put depression in quotes because I have not been diagnosed by any doctor. I’m assuming that this is what I’m going through after having done research online, and from my mom (who has depression) coming to this conclusion after I told her how I feel.) I have been really stressed with school and the craziness of my schedule lately, but it’s all stuff that I used to be able to deal with. It’s very often been difficult just to get through the day. I want nothing more than to hide from the world, and I cry all the time. I get extraordinarily sad and upset for no apparent reason, for hours or days at a time. I feel like I’m constantly on the edge of breaking down, and little things that shouldn’t bother me are liable to set me over the edge. I just can’t deal with anything it seems.
I used to be that girl who was always happy and always smiling, and even when this started, I was able to pretend I was, and became very good at hiding my true feelings. But now, many days I can’t even keep up this pretend face, and it’s all I can do to keep myself from breaking down right there in public. I feel like I’m just being weak or pathetic because I cannot think of any reason for me to have depression, but whatever it is is really wearing me down, and making me very unproductive and unsocial. Most of the small amount of energy I have now is spent keeping myself from curling up in a ball and crying at school, and I have a lot of trouble concentrating and keeping up my grades.
I’m very introverted, and have a lot of difficulty explaining and even admitting this to anyone. Almost none of my friends or family know I’m having issues. Even writing this is extremely hard, but I’m at the point where I seriously think I need help. I have self-harmed a few times, and thoughts of death are a norm in my everyday life. I don’t know what to do, or how to get help. Where do I start?
You did the right thing by talking to your mom and writing us here. There are many possibilities that may be causing your symptoms and I think the first thing is to have your mom make an appointment with your physician so you can have a physical. The physician can help sort through whether this is psychological or physical and make comments and recommendations from there.
You will also want to talk to your high school’s guidance counselor to see what he or she thinks. Talking to others who can help is the best way to start feeling better.
If you are experiencing thoughts of death and are unsure if you are depressed, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Here are four ways you can get help and find out if you have depression:
- Talk to your primary care physician: Your primary care physician can evaluate your physical health and refer you to a mental health professional who can help you determine if you have depression.
- Contact a mental health professional: Mental health professionals, such as psychologists, psychiatrists, and licensed clinical social workers, can help diagnose and treat depression. You can contact a mental health professional directly or get a referral from your primary care physician.
- Reach out to a crisis helpline: If you’re feeling overwhelmed or in crisis, you can reach out to a crisis helpline. They can provide you with support, resources, and information on how to get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a crisis helpline that you can call at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
- Take an online screening: Online screening tools can help you identify whether you may have depression or other mental health conditions. These tools are not a substitute for a professional diagnosis, but they can help you determine if you should seek further evaluation. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a free online screening tool on their website.
Wishing you patience and peace,