Feeling Really Down

2011/07/05 in Health

If you’re feeling really down, you’re not alone. Everybody feels this way occasionally. People call it different things they’ll say they’re down, bummed out, in a bad mood, or just plain depressed.

 

Whatever you call it, it’s a natural reaction to something bad that is happening or has happened to you. You’re not weird or different if you occasionally get depressed — just human. We’re going to suggest ways of coping with your feelings.

Most everybody agrees that the teen years can be pretty rough. A lot of things can go wrong. Maybe it’s problems at home, breaking up with a girl or boy friend, a divorce in the family, hassles with your teachers or co-workers, money problems, put downs from friends, pressure to do better in school, or worries about your future. If any of these things, or something similar, has happened to you, you’re probably feeling down about it. Maybe you’re feeling afraid, lonely, angry or worthless. You are also probably feeling sorry for yourself, and wondering if anything will ever go right for you again.

We’re not going to tell you to cheer up, or snap Out of it. Dealing with depression is not that simple for most people. Only two things can help you get over the pain and back on track again: one is time and the other is a change in the way you react to problems in your life.

Don’t just sit around waiting for good things to happen. Make them happen. For one, work on building your self-confidence. Trying to feel better about yourself may not sound like it has much to do with getting out of a depression, but it does work. In our culture, we’re made to feel that we alone are responsible for our failures and our losses. Because of this, we blame ourselves for the things that go wrong in our lives. When we’re down, these feelings snowball until we start thinking that we can’t do anything right. This depresses us even more. To get out of this rut, we need to start feeling good about ourselves again. One way to tackle this is to do something enjoyable, maybe something you’ve always wanted to do and never had time for.

You also might try to do something nice for someone else. That’s a sure way to make you feel better about yourself. Some people might tell you to try to get your mind off of what’s getting you down. We’re suggesting you do just the opposite. Try to figure out why you’re feeling the way you are, even if you have to make a written list of the possible causes. That way you’ll be able to clearly see the things you can change and those things you can’t change. When you’re depressed, almost everything that happens to you adds to your misery. You might even forget what started it all. Analyzing what’s causing you to feel down by figuring out what came first and what followed from that will help you sort it all out.

Talking about your feelings with someone also helps. Talk with your friends, your parents, or an older brother or sister. First, it makes you feel less alone or rejected, and talking about your situation often helps you understand it better, too.

Some people don’t feel like being around others when they’re down. If you need to be alone for a while, go with your feelings. But don’t sit in your room and stare at the walls, either. Get Out for a walk, work on your car, run the dog around the block — anything that will let you be alone and get you out of your usual environment at the same time.

So far, we’ve talked about the kind of depression that you’ll eventually get over with the benefit of time and a few good breaks. There’s another kind, too. This is the depression that seems to go on and on, sometimes for weeks and months. Maybe the thing that started it all wasn’t even serious enough to make you feel as bad as you do. There’s a possibility that nothing happened, that the mood just started by itself. You might be feeling tense most of the time, or irritable — unable to concentrate, or to sleep or eat properly — convinced that you can’t do anything right and that you’re useless — afraid to be with other people, but lonely — afraid of the future and what will happen to you.

If you’re feeling like this now, and if you’ve been feeling like this for some time, you may need more help that we can give you to get over this kind of depression. We suggest that you see your doctor, or a counselor at school, or call someone who will talk with you about your feelings.

Most depressed moods are just natural reactions to something bad that is happening or has happened to you. You will most likely get over yours, given time and some effort on your part.

We’ve suggested things you can do for yourself to help you start feeling better again. But if your depression is getting too serious for you to cope with alone, please think about getting some professional help.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.