May is the month of graduations; it often means good-bye to the familiar and hello to the unknown. Seniors supposedly, magically transform into adults. They should be prepared to leave home, succeed in college, land real employment, stick with a budget, find new friends, and make everybody proud. It is called pressure or stress and can lead to depression.
The Mayo Clinic Patient Education pamphlet, “Teens + Depression:You are not alone,” offers precise information. It is written with the voice of teens.
“Depression is real! It’s a medical problem. You’re not weird.”
“ Anyone can have it—any race, age, boys or girls—anyone. Even famous people have it.”
“It’s not like it’s a choice. You don’t choose to be depressed. But you can choose to try to get better.”
“You are not alone. Many kids are depressed. You aren’t going to be the only one getting help.”
Symptoms include: Not interested in friends, TV, or social media; feel like a burden to others; trouble focusing, no energy, feel worthless; fear to fail, can’t sleep, eat too little or too much; headaches; feel alone and helpless.
On the topic of medications, teens say, “Stay on your meds! I had to try three different drugs before we found one that worked for me. It took awhile, but I got there.” Take them every day.
“Just say no.” (to drugs and alcohol). “They just make your depression worse. They can also be very dangerous when mixed with prescription drugs.”
Teens encourage teens to stay connected with people who bring them up, who give them energy. On the reverse, do not hang around people who don’t understand depression or offer support.
One of the big messages is, “Not feeling safe from your own self is a terrible thing. You just can’t run away from yourself. So you’ve got to stay and deal.”
Solutions include: “Get help! You’ve got to tell someone like a friend or a doctor or a minister or your parents or your coach. It’s got to be someone who will do something about it.”
“Work hard to force yourself to do things that you need to. Like going to school or just getting out of bed.”
“Surround yourself with things that make you happy. Like pictures of fun times and people and pets you love.”
“Go to upbeat movies, listen to cheerful music, dance like crazy, talk to your dog, talk to people who care.”
“In therapy, I learned about ‘self-talk.’ That means, every day, I need to repeat to myself the things that will lift me up. So I say, ‘I am worthwhile. I am special. I am important. I can beat depression.’”
“But the most important thing: You’ve got to have a plan – a plan for not letting depression get the best of you.”
Assess yourself every day. (on a scale of 1-10, where are you?)
1. Know your warning signs. (stressed, no energy, risky behavior, withdrawn, moody, plan for suicide)
Take action! (exercise, and talk to someone who supports you)
2. Plan for tough times. (poor test score, losing a game, an argument with parents or friends—what can you do after?)
3. Have a safety plan. (Who are you going to talk to?)
“If you are feeling you want to hurt yourself – RIGHT NOW:
Tell a parent or another responsible adult.
Go to the emergency room or tell your doctor.
Call the SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: 1-800-273-8255.”
Share this information. Together, we can give our seniors, and anyone else for that matter, their best chance at meeting life’s inevitable challenges.
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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