YOUNG PEOPLE ASK
How Can I Deal With Depression?
Good coping strategies can make you feel a lot better!
What would you do?
Consider the following scenarios:
Nothing makes Jennifer happy anymore. For no apparent reason, she cries uncontrollably every day. She avoids people and barely eats. It is difficult for her to sleep or concentrate. Jennifer wonders: ‘What is happening to me? Will I ever be myself again?’
Mark used to be a model student. But now he hates school, and his grades are plummeting. Mark has no energy for the sports he once enjoyed. His friends are confused. His parents are worried. Is this just a phase—or something more?
Do you often feel like Jennifer or Mark? If so, what can you do? You could try these two options:
Try to cope on your own
Talk to a trusted adult
Option A may be tempting, especially when you don’t feel like talking. But is it the smarter choice? The Bible says: “Two are better than one . . . for if one of them falls, the other can help his partner up. But what will happen to the one who falls with no one to help him up?”—Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.
To illustrate: Suppose you were lost in a high-crime neighborhood. It’s dark, and strangers lurk around every corner. What would you do? You could try to find a way out by yourself. But wouldn’t it be wiser to ask someone you could trust for help?
Feelings of depression are much like that dangerous neighborhood. True, a temporary bout of the blues may pass on its own. But if depressed feelings are prolonged, it’s best to get help.
BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Whoever isolates himself . . . rejects all practical wisdom.”—Proverbs 18:1.
The advantage of option B—talking to a parent or another trusted adult—is that you can benefit from the experience of someone who has managed difficult emotions.
You might say: ‘But my parents don’t have a clue what it’s like to feel this way!’ Yet, do you know that for sure? Even if the situations they faced as teens were different from those you face, their feelings may have been the same. And they may know a way out!
BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Is not wisdom found among the aged, and does not understanding come with a long life?”—Job 12:12.
The point: If you confide in a parent or another trusted adult, you are likely to obtain advice that works.
What if it’s a medical problem?
If you feel depressed every day, you might have a medical condition that needs to be treated, such as clinical (or, major) depression.
In adolescents, the symptoms of clinical depression can feel a lot like common teenage moodiness, but they are likely to be more intense and persistent. So if your sadness is severe and ongoing, why not talk to your parents about getting a medical checkup?
BIBLE PRINCIPLE: “Healthy people do not need a physician, but those who are ill do.”—Matthew 9:12.
If you are diagnosed with major depression, there’s no reason to feel ashamed. Depression in young people is common, and it is treatable! Your true friends will not think less of you.
Tip: Be patient. Recovery from depression takes time, and you can expect to have both good and bad days. a
Recovery action plan
Regardless of whether you need medical treatment, there are things you can do to deal with persistent sadness. For example, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and getting the right amount of sleep can help stabilize your emotions. (Ecclesiastes 4:6; 1 Timothy 4:8, footnote) You may also find it helpful to keep a journal where you can record your feelings, goals for healing, setbacks, and successes.
Whether you are suffering from clinical depression or are just passing through an emotionally difficult time, remember this: By accepting the help of others and taking personal steps toward healing, you can deal with depression.
Bible passages that can help
“Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those who are crushed in spirit.”—Psalm 34:18.
“Throw your burden on Jehovah, and he will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to fall.”—Psalm 55:22.
“I, Jehovah your God, am grasping your right hand, the One saying to you, ‘Do not be afraid. I will help you.’”—Isaiah 41:13.
“Never be anxious about the next day.”—Matthew 6:34.
“Let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts.”—Philippians 4:6, 7.
a If you have thoughts of taking your life, seek help from a trusted adult immediately. For more information, see the four-part series “Why Go On?” in the April 2014 issue of Awake!