I’m a 17-year-old female and a senior in High School. I’m positive that I’m depressed. I display almost all the symptoms of teen depression, like sadness/crying, loss of interest, no energy/motivation, hopelessness, insomnia (I find myself staying up to 3-4 in the morning without feeling tired, but then when I do fall asleep I don’t wake up until noon or 1-3 in the afternoon. With all that sleep I still wake up tired, sore, and irritable.), lack of concentration (I’m on summer break now, but during school my grades were slipping because of it), loss of appetite, weight loss, headaches, and stomachaches. I’ve spoken to my doctor about this and she didn’t think it was because of anything with my body. I also self harm myself (cutting, scratching). It’s been on and off for the past 4 months, but just in the past couple of weeks it has been a daily thing, or whenever I get upset I cut myself. I also have thoughts of suicide. I fight a lot with my parents and family, and our relationship is falling. I’m told I am the cause of the problems, and I know it is true, so I have a lot of guilt about it, which leads me to feel worthless and like they would be better off without me. We tried family counseling and that didn’t work, so I think that maybe I need help with my depression so that can help with the family problems. I feel like this has taken over my life and I can’t solve it, even with the help of a therapist. Help?? Thanks.

A: Thank you for taking the time to write us and ask your question. I agree with your self-diagnosis. I think you are depressed and the time to get some help is now, while you are on summer break.

You physician might be a good place to start since she knows you. Ask her if there is a psychiatrist she would recommend. The fact that your sleeping pattern is off means that we want to get your body back into a healthy sleep pattern. My hope is the psychiatrist can find the right medicine for the depression and the sleeping.

Secondly I would ask your mom and dad to help you get some counseling, either through the school or privately. Individual counseling would help you sort through the issues underlying the depression, and help you cope. If there is no luck at the school you can find therapists in your area on the find help tab at the top of this page.

I am particularly concerned about the cutting and thoughts of suicide. You need to have a professional to talk to help you sort through these things. Again, I think yourself-diagnosis is accurate. I would find a counselor to talk to as soon as possible.

If the school year starts up before this happens go to the school counselor the first chance you can. He or she will be able to put you in touch with the right people. Depression is often fueled by feelings of helplessness. The sooner you can gain a bit of control in your situation the sooner you will feel better. You have taken the first step by writing us here. It is time to get some others on your team.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan