Depression: In-Depth


Photo: Aspen Jones Design: Katie Gee

Aspen Jones, Staff Writer

Depression is a real thing. Yes, schools teach about depression, and during advisory they try to provide the best type of help for students with this mental “issue,” but unfortunately not everyone’s depression is the same. This differentiation of symptoms needs to be heard more in modern society, especially since the percentage of kids with depression is only going up compared to a few years ago. There are also many different types of depression. These include Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), Bipolar Disorder (BPD), Psychotic Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Situational Depression, Atypical Depression. Even among these smaller categories of depression, the way one might experience Persistent Depressive Disorder (also called- dysthymia—chronic depression that lasts for a very long time) might not be the same as how someone else experiences it. This is an important part of understanding mental health, as one treatment isn’t a “cure all.” After all, no two human brains are the same. 

Many teens struggle with different types of depression, but it can be difficult to get help for various reasons, including a lack of support from family, embarrassment of their mental issues, or a fear of being rejected by others. They might feel as if they are the only ones feeling that way or they might not have a specific reason to feel depressed. This is ultimately a problem with society and how it treats teens with depression. Being able to understand this and acknowledge the fact is the first step to understanding depression and helping those who have it. So what if a teen comes out and says that they have depression to their parents? Often, parents will avoid the issue and won’t look for proper treatment for their child, let alone get them diagnosed. This is where many teens get stuck in their search for proper care. If the teen is able to go to a doctor. They may get a diagnosis for their depression and receive suggestions for medication or therapy. But the next obstacle is obtaining medication or therapy. When parents don’t see the causes, teens feel neglected since their depression has been acknowledged but is not being taken care of. But what if the teen is able to get on medication and/or attend therapy? The next problem is their peers or other adults. If a teen is missing out on hangouts or activities because of their therapy, they may start to be separated from their social group unintentionally, or they might be shunned or privately judged. Their parent’s friends might talk down on their mental health or teachers might choose to ignore their situation. This is a huge problem in dealing with depression as a teen. Adults should help and try to be more understanding, but they can cause many of these issues that prevent a teen from reaching out and getting help. Another thing that people do when they don’t understand depression is assuming things. For teens with High-Functioning Depression, most people don’t see them when they’re going through a low point because, like its name suggests, they function pretty well even at their low points. This could cause a lot of people to misunderstand them and assume that they’re either lying about their depression or that their depression “isn’t that bad with,” leading  teens to feel ignored or upset that their depression is not being taken seriously. In other cases, the teen can start to doubt themselves and question if they really have depression or not. Our job, as respectful and open people, is to start spreading awareness and trying to change this outdated way of thinking. 

As a way to spread awareness, it is important to learn at least some of the more well-known forms of depression. Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a form of depression where you feel depressed most days of the week. Symptoms include weight loss or gain, trouble sleeping or feeling overly sleepy during the day, feeling agitated or sluggish (mentally or physically), trouble concentrating, and thoughts of suicide. Of course, these are overarching symptoms and are not limited to such. Bipolar Depression (BPD) normally has huge mood changes that are normally unprecedented. Low phases cause major depression symptoms and high phases cause high energy and an active mind. Atypical Depression is a sort of depression that can be lifted temporarily by a positive event. The symptoms of this are normally oversensitivity, oversleeping, overeating, and feeling heavy. Situational Depression is basically what it sounds like; becoming depressed due to a certain situation or event. The symptoms for this can be summarized as crying frequently, having anxiety, sadness, an inability to concentrate, social withdrawal, and appetite changes. High-Functioning Depression is a type of depression that eats one up slowly and can transition into MDD. Symptoms include hopelessness, low energy, extremely low energy, and anxiety. 

Needless to say, this small list should not be a reason to self diagnose, but it is a great way to raise awareness or explore more about different types of depression and even the fact that different people react differently to the same type of depression.