Depression among teenagers not out of the ordinary

Most high school students may spend their days thinking about the math test they have during fourth period, what they are going to talk about with friends at lunch or even the sporting event or play happening after school. However, according to the California Health Information Survey, 21 percent of California teens are at risk of having depression.

According to CUSD nurse Susan Pierszalowski, clinical depression is more than just someone feeling sad for a short amount of time, but rather when there is unstable balance of emotions for an extended time period.

One Carmel High junior boy who wishes to remain anonymous has been dealing with depression for more than two years. One of his biggest struggles in dealing with his depression is learning how to control it.

“There are times I just feel like I am drowning in a pool of emotions, and I just can’t seem to get out of it,” he says. “It makes me so mad, but most of the time, I never know how these feelings come up. They are triggered by the smallest things. I hate it.”

According to the article “Teen Depression: A Guide for Teenagers,” some symptoms of depression seen in teenagers are lack of sleep or too much sleep, constantly feeling sad, irritable or angry, and loss of interest and activeness in daily routines or in events the teen normally finds to be fun.

“I often felt like there really was no point for me to do anything, so there was a period of time last year I found myself cutting a lot of classes,” the junior says. “For a while, I even wanted to quit the sport I was playing because I just had a lot of negative thoughts towards everything.”

There are many ways teens can let out these emotions or negative thoughts, such as taking up hobbies like writing or listening to music when they are feeling down or overwhelmed.

For sophomore Leah Morgan, who suffered from depression for a year and a half, confiding in people like her friends and her mom really helped her get through the tough times of her depression.

“My depression just got so bad,” Morgan says. “I needed help, so I finally was able to talk to my mom about it after a year into my depression.”

Senior Alex Metcalfe has suffered from depression for the past four years and is one of many depressed teens who practice self-harm.

According to the National Institute of Health, approximately 1 out of every 100 Americans engages in non-suicidal self-injury, with the behavior being higher among women than men. This behavior is more common among teens and young adults. Many people who cut or injure themselves report they do so because it provides a sense of relief

“When I would relapse, I would often cut myself, but rarely where people could see it,” Metcalfe says. “I have cut my arms, shoulders, hips and thighs. It hurt, but at the same time it felt relieving. I was addicted to it.”

After three years of suffering from depression, Metcalfe sought out help from CHS counselor Kate Miller.

“At first, I resisted the help. I knew I needed it, but didn’t really want it,” Metcalfe recalls. “One day it just got so bad I walked up to Kate and asked for help. She told me I needed to let my parents know, so I had a close friend tell them for me.”

Metcalfe’s parents stood by her as they sought professional help from a doctor a year ago. She was prescribed the anti-depressants, Excitalopram, and is now getting the support she has needed from not only family but from friends who are familiar with her battle through depression.

“There are so many people who want to help these kids, especially here at CHS,” Pierszalowski says. “We are all here and ready to help any of our students in any way that we possibly can.”

There are many teens struggling with depression who don’t seek help in time, and unfortunately for some people they are pushed too far. Acting on impulse, there are depressed teens that attempt to or actually commit suicide.

According to an article written by Laith Agha, writing for The Herald, in 2009, 1 in 9,000 was the approximate national suicide rate per year for 17- to 29-year-olds. The rate of suicides in the Carmel area was six times that.

“I attempted suicide two years ago,” one Carmel High junior girl says. “My dad told me something, and I guess it was just too much for me to handle…. Luckily, my mom found me and got me to the hospital.”

According to this junior girl, she was able to get a lot of help and support from her family once she opened up and told people about what she was feeling. She started going to a local therapist three times a week, but has since been able to reduce her therapy to only twice a week.

“I am much happier now that I have people to talk to about this,” the girl says.

According to Psychology Today, depression is not a sign of weakness, and it is of great importance for people with depression to receive help or appropriate treatment.

Receiving help from friends and adults has helped all four of these depressed teens at CHS.

“For anyone who is going through depression, just know you can get through it,” Morgan says. “There is always someone who will be there to help whether it’s friends or an adult. It can also be easier if you open up to someone who goes through the same things.”

-Elexis Perez