Remember.  The teen heroic journey is – by its very nature – a rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions.  It’s inescapable – just part of the journey.  You will encounter a bunch of the following experiences and it will not necessarily mean that you are depressed.

However, if you experience a lot of these symptoms – or they are very intense or last for more than two weeks – you could be suffering from depression and need to talk with a trusted adult (parent, physician, counselor, etc.).

Note.  These lists are useful for talking about your experience.  They are also useful if you are helping someone else with their feelings of possible depression.

12 Behaviors

  1. Social isolation
  2. Withdrawal from normal activities
  3. Tearfulness
  4. Agitation, restlessness or hostility
  5. Decreasing school performance
  6. Changes in eating and/or sleeping habits
  7. Difficulty concentrating, remembering information or making decisions
  8. Frequent complaints of unexplained body aches or headaches
  9. Drug or alcohol abuse and/or smartphone addiction
  10. Reckless behavior, including running away
  11. Less attention to personal hygiene or appearance
  12. Self-harm – cutting, burning, excessive piercing tattooing, and/or suicidal actions

12 Thoughts and Feelings

  1. Sadness or hopelessness – ongoing sense that life and the future are grim or bleak
  2. Feelings of worthlessness and guilt or humiliation
  3. Feeling of emptiness
  4. Loss of interest in usual activities
  5. Loss of interest in, or conflicts with, family and friends
  6. Low self-esteem
  7. Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  8. Fatigue or lack of energy
  9. Thoughts of death or suicide
  10. Fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism
  11. Extreme sensitivity to criticism or rejection and the need for excessive reassurance
  12. Feeling anxious or fearful

Don’t overreact, but don’t fail to act if you find that these symptoms fit your experience – if there are a lot of them, they are intense or they are lasting too long.

Be the author and not the victim.  If the first adult you talk with is not responsive or helpful, talk with another one.  There are also some things that you can do to take care of yourself – and they are noted in the “Helping” section.  But, if you are depressed, get help, including professional help, to go along with what you can do.  Depression is tough to deal with, but it is manageable.

You may not control life's circumstances, but getting to be the author of your life means getting control of what you do with them.

Atul Gawande,