I think I might be depressed

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m 17 years old, Female, a Senior in High School…and I need answers. I think I might be depressed, but I’m not sure. I display many of the symptoms of Teen Depression…sadness/tearfulness/crying, loss of interest, no energy/motivation, hopelessness, horrible self-esteem, hypersomnia (I get about 11-13 hours of sleep a night…mostly naps during the day after school), lack of concentration (grades are falling because of it), loss of appetite, headaches everyday and stomachaches occasional (I have seen a neurologist- anything medical has been ruled out as the reason for the headaches), thoughts of suicide (rarely, but it’s something I have thought of), cutting (only 3 times…but still) among others. However, I am confused because sometimes I feel ok…not great, but I can get through the day. For awhile now though, probably for around 6-7 months, I feel like every smile, every laugh is just a mask for something much deeper…and then, anything can trigger that mask to disappear and my “ok” mood turns to severely depressed. I’m worried. I haven’t been able to truly enjoy myself for so long now, and I want to be able to like myself again, or feel worthy and loved. This never changes… I had my first meeting with a Psychologist yesterday and she thought I had mild depression and mentioned antidepressants. Does this sound like something I would actually need antidepressants for? Or am I making too big a deal out of this?
Thanks for your time.

A: No. You are not making too big a deal of this. I’m so glad you have started talking with a psychologist. A psychologist has the training to determine whether someone is clinically depressed as opposed to just down in the dumps. However, a psychologist can only work with what the patient shares. That’s why it is essential that you be as honest as you know how to be in your discussions.

If you are depressed, antidepressants can give you a jumpstart for feeling better. But medicine alone generally isn’t as effective as a combination of medicine and some talk therapy. Therapy will help you learn some skills for managing your feelings and coping with challenges that come your way.

You made an important step in going to see a mental health professional. Now please stick with it long enough to see if it can give you the support and relief you need. Three months of weekly sessions is usually a fair trial for both medicine and therapy but ask your psychologist what he or she thinks is reasonable and talk it over.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Dec 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). I think I might be depressed. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/12/15/i-think-i-might-be-depressed-2/