Teens go through a lot of changes and have a lot of pressures put on them from different groups. It is not uncommon to have low periods or feelings of depression during this time. According to Mental Health America, if you are experiencing a loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy, irritability, tiredness, and prolonged sadness you can’t break out of, you may be experiencing depression. Fortunately, there are small, natural changes you can make in your daily habits that can make a big difference and help alleviate the symptoms.
Take Care of Your Body
1. Exercising is a great positive activity to keep your mind and body occupied. It also releases endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals, into your brain and will affect you immediately. In addition, exercising boosts self confidence, especially if your depression is related to body issues.
2. Making sure you are eating right and getting the right nutrients into your body is also essential to feeling well emotionally. Eating well will help you feel better both physically and emotionally.
3. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 9 ¼ hours of sleep each night for teens and adolescents. A chronic lack of sleep can make it difficult to get through each day, difficult to concentrate, and difficult to stay motivated.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
4. Make sure you are getting enough sunlight. Some people are more sensitive to light than others and get seasonal affective disorder, which means a lack of sunlight makes them depressed. This is most common in the winter months when daylight is scarce. It is especially important to get sunlight in the morning, because bright light in the morning helps keep your circadian rhythms in line with daylight hours. If it is too difficult to get true sunlight with your busy schedule, try using a “happy lamp” when you are home in the evenings, which is a light that mimics the effects of sunlight on the brain.
5. Getting the right nutrition is essential to maintaining mental and emotional health. Taking a multivitamin ensures your body is getting the nutrients it needs to function healthily. B vitamins are specifically linked to alleviating depression symptoms, especially folic acid and vitamin B6. A vitamin D deficiency could be part of the problem. Related to seasonal affective disorder, not getting enough sunlight could result in a lack of vitamin d and depression. Taking a D vitamin daily could remedy this problem.
Find Healthy Outlets
6. Talk to a trusted adult friend. Feeling heard and understood is a human necessity. Talking an adult you trust and know will understand will help you feel less isolated and alone. Your friend may also have some good advice about what you are going through, or have been through something similar themselves.
7. Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts and feelings will help you make sense of what you are going through and can also be a great outlet to work through the thoughts and emotions you are not comfortable sharing with others. Through your writing, you may also start to notice patterns and realize what you are doing differently on days you feel better versus what you are doing on days you tend to feel down.
8. Try taking a break from social media. Social media can cause a negative cycle of depression. People, especially teens, need authentic human contact and companionship. Social media not only provides a pseudo social environment that does not meet these needs, but it can cause teens to compare their social lives to the lives their peers present that may or may not be accurate.
The important thing to remember if you are having symptoms of depression is that you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you. If you are experiencing serious depression that inhibits your daily living, it is important to get help from a counselor who specializes in working with teens. Everyone needs help sometimes, and working with a counselor could be the jump start you need to get back on the right track.
- 7 Things Parents Probably Don’t Know About Teen Depression (doorwaysarizona.com)
- Eating Disorders and Depression (doorwaysarizona.com)
- Let’s Stomp Out Bullying (doorwaysarizona.com)