Depression/Anxiety in High Schoolers

Lauren Snyder, Sentry Staff Reporter

Adolescence is a period of change for many people and often includes several hard decisions. It is normal to feel sad or anxious from time to time. However, it can be dangerous to have these feelings constantly affect your daily life. If these feelings have grown too intense, you should talk to a trusted adult or counselor. It may have developed into depression.

Depression is a serious mental illness that is most common among teens and adults. Symptoms of depression vary and manifest differently from person to person can include:

  • Constant sad or anxious feelings
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Feeling helpless
  • Changes in sleep behaviors
  • Anger or irritability
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Thoughts of suicide or self harm (if you have any of these thoughts, please tell a trusted adult or call 1-800-273-TALK, a toll free suicide hotline immediately).

Depression does not discriminate, and anybody can develop it. Depression does not have a singular cause; different factors can cause it to develop. Factors for teens usually fall into two categories. It can come from academic issues, such as pressure to perform well in school,  stress from the workload, personal or social issues such as conflict between friends or even the death of a family member.

Finding out whether you have depression has to be done with a licensed professional. High school counselors are not licensed to diagnose students. They will refer you to or connect you to an outside resource for a clinical diagnostic. The main focus of counselors is to help figure out strategies to  relieve the anxiety at school. They will also work collaboratively with the school psychologist Greta Brendley, the school social worker Cara Abernathy, and parents and students.

If you are a minor, you have to first talk to your parents or legal guardian before consulting with other resources outside of school. When you do, Arlington Public Schools offers programs through the office of special education services and the Arlington County Department of Human Services offers psychiatric services. There are also private practices that can offer different types of treatment.

Treatment options for depression depends on the severity of the depression. Less severe cases of depression can be helped through talking and listening. A counselor, parent or even a friend can help you through the process. However, more severe cases could require therapy with a licensed professional or medication. Medication is only to be taken with a prescription and the consent of a licensed professional. Most depressions are treatable and there are several people willing to help the the process.