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Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. It can occur along with other mental disorders, substance abuse, and other health conditions. Friends or family members may try to tell someone with depression to “snap out of it”, and “just be positive”, “you can be happier if you try harder”, “it’s your choice to be this way you can change the way you think”, “why are you so sad?”. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Many chronic mood and anxiety disorders in adults, begin as high levels of anxiety in children. Depression symptoms take many forms, and no two people’s experiences are alike. A person who’s suffering from this disorder may not seem sad to others. Sadness differs from depression because sadness is something we all experience it is a normal reaction to a loss or a setback, but it passes with a little time. Depression can happen at any age but often begins in adulthood. Depression symptoms take many forms, and no two people’s experiences are alike. They may instead complain about how they “can’t get moving,” or are feeling unmotivated to do just about anything. Even simple things, like getting dressed in the morning or eating at mealtime, become large obstacles in daily life. People around them, such as their friends and family, notice the change too. Often they want to help, but just don’t know how.

Depression differs from normal sadness, it doesn’t stop after just a day or two, it will continue for weeks on end, interfering with the person’s work or school, their relationships with others, and their ability to just enjoy life and have fun. Some people feel as if a huge hole of emptiness has opened inside when experiencing the hopelessness associated with this condition. It can affect anyone at any point in their life, including children and adolescents. Some people who don’t think depression is a big deal might say “snap out of it”, depression is not something patients can turn on and off, and they’re not able to respond to such pleas. Or “What do you have to be depressed about?” You can’t argue someone out of feeling depressed, but you can help by acknowledging that you’re aware of their pain. “It’s all in your head.” Some people believe depression is an imaginary disease and that it’s possible to think yourself into feeling depressed and down. Suggesting that depression is imagined is neither constructive nor accurate.

Although depression can’t be “seen” from the outside, it is a real medical condition and can’t be thought or wished away, it is real, and it’s not something we can control it is a disease of loneliness. We crave human touch, we crave listening ears and words of advice. Although no matter how much we receive, it is never enough. We feel isolated and alone. Sure, we are supported, but we are not understood. That is the missing puzzle piece that provides a strong sense of loneliness. The way we think and feel cannot be understood by others we feel completely isolated. We feel stuck and helpless. We feel as though we have nowhere to turn. We are left to cope on our own and figure things out for ourselves.

Depression often causes decreased energy and/or a low mood that causes impairment in a person’s life. Depression can be caused by a number of different factors, including a death in the family, difficulty in adjustment, a loss, trauma, and stress, family history of depression, and chronic low self-esteem. Depression does not make you “crazy” and it is not something that one can just “snap out of and feel better.” The signs of this include; slow speech, lack of energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating, sadness, no interest in usual pursuits, crying, expressions of hopelessness or worthlessness, isolation from friends, not attending classes or doing academic work, they might be less interested in past hobbies, sports, or family activities, and less motivated to do homework. The early signs of trouble listed above might develop into behavior that’s a serious cause for concern. This kind of behavior includes; not going to school, sport, training, or work at all, and spending a lot of time hanging out in public places, rarely being at home and not having a regular place to stay, being highly agitated or irritable, or showing signs of mental health issues – for example, severe depression, paranoia, extreme irrationality, seeing things that aren’t there, or extreme social isolation or withdrawal, confidence might be at risk if you, he/she or other people he/she respects focus on his/her outcomes rather than his/her efforts. If the outcome is a ‘failure’ – for example, a poor exam result, a grand final loss – it can seem like the end of the world. During adolescence, physical changes can also affect teenagers’ confidence. If teenagers feel self-conscious about their bodies, it can affect their confidence overall and how they feel about themselves. They might refuse to go to school, start getting lower marks than usual, not want to see friends, doesn’t want to take part in her/his usual sports and other activities, avoiding group gatherings, being more moody than usual, showing obvious changes in behavior, sleep, or appetite, lashes out at home.

Self-harm is when people deliberately hurt themselves as a way of coping with painful or strong emotions. It’s a way of trying to get control over, or relief from, those feelings. For some people, the attempt to control or stop feelings through self-harm is actually a way of trying to heal themselves. Other people self-harm so they can ‘feel something’ rather than feeling nothingness or emptiness. Self-harm is generally a sign that a person is in deep distress.

Self-harm happens in different ways, some more obvious and serious than others. Forms of self-harm include: cutting, scratching, carving, branding or marking the body. Self-harm needs to be taken seriously. Repeated self-harm can lead to serious injuries, scarring, medical conditions, and accidental death, even if the young person isn’t trying to commit suicide. People who self-harm sometimes try to hide it. They’re often ashamed of their behavior and worry that people will be angry with them, reject them or not understand why they’re self-harming.

If you’re concerned that someone might be self-harming, here are some signs to watch out for:

  • lose interest in activities their usually enjoys
  • avoid activities like swimming, where their legs, arms or torso can be seen
  • stop seeing friends
  • skip school
  • have a drop in performance at school
  • hide clothes or wash them separately
  • wear clothes that cover their arms and legs even if it’s hot or the clothes aren’t their usual style
  • hide objects like razor blades, stencil knives, lighters, and matches.

Emotional signs

The person might:

  • have big changes in mood
  • stop caring about his appearance.

They might self-harm to:

  • release stress or strong feelings
  • distract themselves or escape from difficult situations or feelings – for example, after a relationship breakdown
  • show desperation or seek help
  • influence other people’s behavior or ‘get back at’ other people
  • feel in control
  • feel ‘something’ – for example, some young people say they can’t feel emotions so they get ‘comfort’ from feeling physical pain
  • express feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem or self-hatred, or the belief that they can’t be helped.

Self-harming can become a habit or an addiction if young people rely on it to cope with emotional pain or distress. Depression is now recognized as occurring in children and adolescents although it sometimes presents with more prominent irritability than a low mood. The only way to help someone like that is to constantly be there for them and try to get them into counseling. The depression will only grow stronger and more intense if the person feels abandoned or get bullied.

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Popular Questions About Depression

What will happen during depression?
Depression is a serious mental illness that can interfere with a person's life. It can cause long-lasting and severe feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities. It can also cause physical symptoms of pain, appetite changes, and sleep problems.
What is the number one cause of depression?
There's no single cause of depression. It can occur for a variety of reasons and it has many different triggers. For some people, an upsetting or stressful life event, such as bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy and job or money worries, can be the cause. Different causes can often combine to trigger depression.