Depression or Typical Adolescent Behavior?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I been feeling so “sad” lately. I have trouble sleeping now, not doing so well in school, and I feel excluded from my social life. I used to be a happy go lucky, always talking to my friends, playing and other things. But now, I feel all alone in the world. I get random headaches and I get so much stress and I’m only 11! I know it’s probably not the best idea to ask somebody on the Internet, but I’m just scared to tell my parents about it. At school I have the shortest patience, and everyone and everything is getting on my nerves. I’ve been getting really emotional too. I’ve been crying myself to sleep sometimes. I just don’t really know if I could say I’m depressed or I’m just going through a stage. Thanks for your time.

A: Of course, I don’t know either. But I can make some guesses. At 11, your body is likely starting to make some big changes. For girls, that often means emotional upheaval until your body adjusts to new hormone levels. For that reason, I think the first stop should be at your doctor. You need someone knowledgeable to explain what to expect physically and emotionally over the next few years.

I am concerned about the headaches. That’s another reason to see your doctor. You may be right that it’s stress. But it may also be a symptom of a medical problem. Get it checked out so you can manage the headaches appropriately.

As to your social life: Friendships take maintenance. Do remember that all your girlfriends are going through the same changes you are. That means that people aren’t always at their best. It would be wonderful if you could all talk about it and agree to support each other. Humor is a big help, as long as it doesn’t turn mean. Stick together and find ways to have some fun. Look for new activities that interest you and you may find new friends as well.

I’m sorry you are scared to tell your parents about your feelings. I know that there are often good reasons why teens and tweens can’t turn to their folks. But if yours are reasonable people, I do urge you to give it a try. Your mom was a girl once, you know. She may be able to help.

In the meantime: Another resource for you is the Boys and Girls Town hotline. Counselors are on duty 24/7 every day of the year to talk to teens about whatever issues are troubling them. Their number is 800-448-3000.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Depression or Typical Adolescent Behavior?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/12/30/depression-or-typical-adolescent-behavior/