Feeling sad is a normal part of life. But if you are a teenager and you feel sad, anxious, and hopeless all the time, you might be experiencing depression. Depression and anxiety can make us irrational and irritable, causing conflict at home and at school. If these feelings are getting in the way of sleeping, concentration, eating, or your energy level, it’s time to talk to your parents and to your friends. You might also want to see a counselor at school or someone recommended by your doctor.
It may seem silly, but if your feelings of depression are mild, you might actually find that playing a video game such as Bejeweled 2 or Peggie helps you feel better. Believe it or not this type of casual gameplay can change how your nervous system works and improve your mood.
Here are some other strategies that can help teens improve mood and reduce your feelings of depression.
Visualize. Imagine what you would like to do and what you would like to become. By visualizing success you produce nervous-system responses that are similar to those that would happen if you actually did something. Visualization can also provide you with a method and plan to get you where you want to go. This can improve low self-esteem and help to steer away negative thoughts.
Be thankful. Try very hard to be grateful for what you have. You might create a journal where you write down things for which you are grateful. Work on the journal when you are feeling good and relaxed and have it available so you can refer to it while you are feeling upset or stressed. This could help you become more optimistic and hopeful. This can also help to eliminate or lower sadness and negative thoughts.
Branch out. Play with your cell phone to find something new you can do. Explore a new app. Take pictures using filters or other tools. Try to do something that is creative or learn a new skill by playing with your technology. This could help to improve your self-esteem as you become good at a new task or skill.
For more on teen depression, see the guide at the National Institute of Mental Health. If you are overwhelmed, talk to someone you trust about the way you are feeling. Anxiety and depression are closely related. Read our strategies for teens dealing with anxiety.
Featured image: Flickr user Rowan Saunders