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I think I might be depressed. I'm having a hard time paying attention in class. I just feel sad for no reason, like I can't cope. I told my parents, and they took me to a doctor because I was also having headaches and stress. My checkup was normal. My mom listens and tries to help me feel better. My dad says I'm just not trying hard enough at school. Maybe he's right. What should I do?
- Evan*

Sometimes, friends or family members recognize that someone is depressed. They may respond with love, kindness, or support, hoping that the sadness will soon pass. They may offer to listen if the person wants to talk. If the depressed feeling doesn't pass with a little time, friends or loved ones may encourage the person to get help from a doctor, therapist, or counselor.

But not everyone recognizes depression when it happens to someone they know or love.

Some people don't really understand about depression. For example, they may react to a depressed person's low energy with criticism, saying the person is acting lazy or not trying. Some mistakenly believe that depression is just an attitude or a mood that someone can shake off. They don't realize it's not that easy.

Sometimes, even people who are depressed don't take their condition seriously enough. Some feel that they are weak in some way, or disappointing others because they are depressed. This isn't right — and it can even be harmful if it causes people to hide their depression and avoid getting help.

Occasionally, when depression causes physical symptoms (things like headaches or other stress-related problems), a person may see a doctor. Once in a while, even a well-meaning doctor may not realize somebody is depressed. He or she may just pay attention to the physical symptoms.

Talk to your parents again. Tell them how you feel. Since your mom seems willing to listen, you might want to start by talking to her. You might mention that you've been reading up on depression and, based on the symptoms you are having, you think that might be what's going on with you. If it's easier, show your parents one of our articles on depression.

Ask your parents to arrange for you to meet with a counselor or therapist to find out how you can feel better.

If you feel like you're not getting anywhere with your parents, talk to your school counselor. This is just the type of thing counselors are there to help solve — especially when it is affecting your schoolwork. Your counselor also may be able to help you when it comes to talking to your parents.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: November 2011

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

 
Other Related KidsHealth Articles:
5 Ways to Fight Depression
It's important to take action against depression - it doesn't just go away on its own. In addition to getting professional help, here are 5 ways to feel better.
About Stressful Situations
How well we get through a stressful situation depends a lot on us. It's how we deal with that makes all the difference. Here are some ways to understand and manage stress.
Depression
Depression is very common. For more information about depression and feeling better, check out this article.
Going to a Therapist
Getting help with emotions or stress is the same as getting help with a medical problem like asthma or diabetes. This article explains how therapy works and how it can help with problems.
School Counselors
School counselors can give you all sorts of tips and support on solving problems and making good decisions. But how do you meet with a counselor and what is it like? Find out here.
Talking to Parents About Depression
If you feel depressed, you need to reach out for help and support. Read our tips for teens on talking to parents about depression.
Talking to Your Doctor
Your best resource for health information and advice is your doctor - the person who knows you, your medical history, and accurate medical information to answer your questions.
Talking to Your Parents - or Other Adults
Whether it's an everyday issue like schoolwork or an emergency situation, these tips can help you improve communications with your parents and other adults.
 
Related Resources:
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
AACAP offers up-to-date information on child and adolescent development and issues.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
This group is dedicated to advancing the knowledge of suicide and the ability to prevent it.
American Psychological Association (APA)
The APA provides information and education about a variety of mental health issues for people of all ages.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
The mission of this group is to educate patients, families, professionals, and the public about depressive and manic-depressive illnesses.
National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
The mission of the NASP is to promote educationally and psychologically healthy environments for all children and youth by implementing research-based programs that prevent problems, enhance independence, and promote optimal learning.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
NIMH offers information about the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses, and supports research to help those with mental illness.