Lately Kevin hasn’t felt like himself. His friends have noticed it, too. Dave was surprised when Kevin turned down his invitation to go play laser tag last Saturday, his favorite thing. There was really no reason not to go, but Kevin just didn’t feel like it. Instead, he spent most of Saturday sleeping.
Staying in more than usual isn’t the only change in Kevin. He's always been a really good student. But over the past couple of months his grades have fallen and he has trouble concentrating. He forgot to turn in a paper that was due and is having a hard time getting motivated to study for finals.
Kevin feels tired all the time but has difficulty falling asleep. He's gained weight too. When his mother asks him what’s wrong, Kevin just feels like crying. But he doesn’t know why. Nothing particularly bad has happened. Yet Kevin feels sad all the time and can’t shake it.
Kevin may not realize it yet, but he is depressed.
Depression is very common and affects as many as 1 in 8 people in their teen years. Depression affects people of every color, race, economic status, or age; however, it does seem to affect more females than males.
What Should I Do If I Think Someone Is Depressed?
Sometimes friends or family members recognize that someone is depressed. They may respond with love, kindness, or support, hoping that the sadness will soon pass. They may offer to listen if the person wants to talk. If the depressed feeling doesn’t pass with a little time, friends or loved ones may encourage the person to get help from a doctor, therapist, or counselor.
But not everyone recognizes depression when it happens to someone they know.
Some people don’t really understand about depression. For example, they may react to a depressed person’s low energy with criticism, yelling at the person for acting lazy or not trying harder. Some people mistakenly believe that depression is just an attitude or a mood that a person can shake off. It’s not that easy.
Sometimes even people who are depressed don’t take their condition seriously enough. Some people feel that they are weak in some way because they are depressed. This is wrong and it can even be harmful if it causes people to hide their depression and avoid getting help.
Occasionally, when depression causes physical symptoms (things like headaches or other stress-related problems), a person may see a doctor. Once in a while, even a well-meaning doctor may not realize a person is depressed, and just treat the physical symptoms.
Why Do People Get Depressed?
There is no single cause for depression. Many factors play a role including genetics, environment, life events, medical conditions, and the way people react to things that happen in their lives.
What If I Am Feeling Depressed?
It's okay to reach out and share what you are feeling. Caring people who want to help are available.
 The Children’s Hospital website, October 2007.