Major Depressive Disorder, also known as just “depression,” is one of the most common mental health disorders. In the United States, a total of 2.9 million teenagers between the ages of 12 to 17 years-old have had at least one episode of depression. This is 12% of the population of 12 to 17 year olds in the United States. An “episode” of depression is a period lasting at least 2 weeks where a person who has this disorder will experience symptoms.
The signs or symptoms of depression include:
A “depressed” mood, which means the person feels sad, empty, or hopeless.
Depression is much more than just feeling sad or down. It’s an illness that not only lasts for 2 weeks or longer, but it can sometimes go away and then come back months later. A person who has this disorder can have difficulty working or going to school. This happens because depression can make it hard to do even simple things like get out of bed and get dressed.
People who don’t understand depression might think that it’s something the person struggling with can control or “stop.” Sadly, people who have depression are sometimes told that it’s “all in their mind” or that they have the ability to just “think positive” and make it go away. The truth is that telling someone with depression that they can “think happy thoughts” and their depression will disappear is the same as telling someone who just broke their leg that they can get up and walk if they set their mind to it. Depression is an illness or an injury like any other physical or medical issue, but the difference is that since it’s an illness of the mind, we can’t see it like we do a broken bone or a blood test result that shows a specific disease.
There are many good treatments available for people who have depression. Treatment can prevent depression from coming back or at least, it can help the person cope with symptoms. Some people are prescribed medications by their doctor for depression while others go to a mental health professional for therapy. Sometimes both medications and therapy are recommended to treat depression.