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Anxiety, Stress, and Depression

Depressed Teen Boy

Anxiety and stress are part of everyday life. Normal activities like taking tests, going on a date, speaking in public, and meeting new people can make you feel uneasy and apprehensive. Some degree of stress and anxiety is healthy and desirable as it can help you through tense situations.

But sometimes those feelings can get in the way of your daily life. You might find yourself feeling restless or irritable, having trouble sleeping, concentrating, or focusing. Many teens struggle with anxiety, depression, and stress; know that you are not alone.

Juggling schoolwork, preparing for exams, competing in sports, participating in extracurricular activities, and all the social challenges of fitting in can make your middle and high school years difficult. Some teens also find themselves facing serious life events such as a family divorce, a breakup, or having to move.

Stress comes from change - and students your age face changes every day! It’s perfectly normal to feel sad or irritable and it's more common than you may think. Finding healthy coping strategies is key. You could try:

  • Relaxation techniques – practice deep breathing exercises, listening to music or a podcast, yoga or meditation might help.
  • Blow off some steam through physical activity – walking or jogging, swimming, bike riding, weightlifting, or other aerobic exercises might do the trick.
  • Get some sleep – very few teens get enough sleep daily. See if you can fit in a few extra ZZZs.
  • Develop a gratitude journal that focuses on what’s positive about your life.
  • Play a musical instrument or turn to other hobbies you might enjoy like painting or sketching, sewing, or reading.
  • Talk to someone – a friend, parent, or professional could help you through this.

For some teens, these sad and irritable feelings may become so intense you feel hopeless and helpless and you may be facing mental health issues. While that may sound scary or embarrassing, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You wouldn’t be down on yourself for getting the flu or pulling a muscle. It is the same with your mental health. And while it can feel intensely isolating, YOU are not alone! In fact, one out of three Michigan high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row so that they stopped doing some usual activities.[1]

How do you know when the feelings have gone from regular teen anxiety and stress to something more serious? According to the American Psychological Association, symptoms of depression could include:

  • Depressed mood. All-day. Every day. For days.
  • Unintentional, significant weight loss.
  • Not having any energy even after you’ve slept well.
  • Feeling worthless or guilty.
  • Having a hard time concentrating or making decisions.
  • Thoughts of death or ending your life.

There is help and hope so you can feel better! Don’t hide it -- it’s not your fault or anything you’ve done. It is a medical issue, just like healing a broken bone. Please talk to a trusted adult and seek help with a trained professional. You can always submit a tip to OK2SAY.

Remember, mental health issues are not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It takes courage to ask for help.

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