With Depression, You Don’t Have To Struggle Alone


Natalie Varela

Depression affects many teenagers, especially aggravating symptoms in students who are stressed by school. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, you can speak to someone through the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Savannah Jackson, Writer

“In past generations, people didn’t really talk about it. You just kind of pretended that it wasn’t there.” That’s what one Wilde Lake teacher has to say about her struggle with depression.

“I’ve probably had [depression] my whole life,” she said. Depression ran in her family, but due to the stigma around depression (the idea that someone doesn’t have depression, and is just being overdramatic) they chose not to acknowledge it, she said.

In her middle school and high school years, she found that her depression worsened. “I went to school with people that were very image-conscious, and I think I went through a brief eating disorder phase. I wanted to be like everyone else,” she said. “You go through those awkward middle school and early high school years where you feel like you’re hideous, and you feel that you’re different from everyone else. It’s hard being a teenager. Things are always changing. Especially when nobody in your family is really trying to get you help, so not only is it bad, but there’s also nobody helping you get better,” she said. “Especially being a female is hard because women are hard on each other. [We’re] very judgemental about everything.”

According to the journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, approximately three to eight percent of adolescents struggle with depression. In 2015, “an estimated three million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year (National Institute of Mental Health).”

This is about 12.5 percent of the U.S. population for people ages 12 to 17. It is approximated that 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood. 30 percent of teens who experience depression also develop a substance abuse problem. Teens with depression are 12 times as likely to attempt suicide.

Depression typically begins in teens and young adult years (between ages 12 to 30). Statistics show that more women are diagnosed with depression, but this may also be because more women seek treatment.

There are certain risk factors that make a person more likely to develop depression. Some of these include: low self esteem, being too self critical or pessimistic, experiencing traumatic or stressful events, having a family history of depression, bipolar disorder,  alcoholism or suicide, having a serious chronic illness, or taking certain medications.

These statistics show that not only is depression prevalent among teens, but that those who don’t get help face serious difficulties in their lives.

Mr. Channel, Wilde Lake’s school psychologist, states the stress from school can factor into a teen’s depression. “I think a lot of stress causes you to feel pretty depressed,” he said. “I think the balance isn’t there. Like it’s okay to know that I’m not going to do well sometimes and be okay with that.”

He feels that grades become too important to some students, and it makes school a lot more stressful. “Grades [have] become way too serious,” said Mr. Channel.

The teacher started taking her son to therapy when he started experiencing symptoms at 15. Then she started going to the therapist on her own when he went off to college, since her mother didn’t want to help her. “[Therapy] helped a lot,” she said. “It just helps you feel better.”

She advises students who deal with depression to get help from anyone they can. “Find somebody that you can talk to. If your parents don’t support you getting professional help, then use everybody at school that you know. They could be your counselor or somebody else’s counselor. Just find somebody in your life that can listen to you and try to get [you] help,” she says.

Even though sometimes it feels like there’s no way out, in the words of someone who’s been through it, “You can survive.”