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Way beyond the blues


Arbetter, S. (1993, December 2). Way beyond the blues. Current Health, 20(4), 4-11.


Depression is not easily identifiable. In some people, depression expresses itself in sad looks and withdrawal, but in others, depression is expressed in "happiness" and boundless energy. In adolescents, mood swings are part of development. This adds another dimension to diagnosing depression.



Feeling sad is not the same as depression. Sadness is a natural part of experiencing the losses of life. Depression becomes a factor when these feelings of sadness last longer than a couple of weeks. Experts often allow flexibility in this time, depending on the events which surround these depressed feelings.



The following are common symptoms of depression:

  • No interest in school and grades fall.
  • Being with friends holds absolutely no appeal.
  • Problems sleeping—excessive sleeping or insomnia.
  • Unusual appetite—excessive eating or no desire to eat.
  • Obsession with death, thoughts of suicide.
  • Feelings of hopelessness.
  • Physical symptoms of headaches, stomachaches, other aches and pains.
  • Concentration and decision making difficulties.




Anyone who’s ever felt sad has only the barest clue as to what major depression is like.

‘I had this buzzing in my head all the time,’ says Emmy, a small dark-haired girl with large brown eyes. ‘And I felt tired. I didn’t want to do anything except lie on my bed and listen to tapes. When my friends called, I didn’t feel like talking to them. I knew they were getting mad, and sometimes I’d try to talk on the phone, but I couldn’t push the words up out of my throat.’



There are many types of depression:

    • Dysthyinia
    is not as severe as other types of depression, but can still affect a person’s ability to enjoy life.
    Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) occurs with the changes of the seasons and the lower levels of sunlight.
    Bi-polar or manic-depressive disorder manifests itself with alternating periods of highs and lows.
    Major depression means a person has had more than one episode of clinical depression.

A variety of factors cause depression. Environmental factors such as the difficult life events of divorce, death, moving, or job changes may facilitate it. Biological factors involving brain function has ties to depression. Genetic factors also seem to play a role.


Medication, psychotherapy, and counseling are the most popular treatments. Most experts favor a combination of these approaches. Michael Maloney and Rachel Kranz, authors of Straight Talk About Anxiety and Depression, offer these suggestions:

  • Focus on the positives about yourself.
  • Accept the fact that humans are not perfect.
  • Enjoy the present moment.
  • Take care of yourself physically.
  • Do something nice for yourself.
  • Improve your surroundings.
  • Talk to someone.
  • Indulge your feelings. Let yourself cry and wallow in sad songs, but only for a little while.


  • Have you or someone you know experienced any of the symptoms mentioned in this article? If you have, who have you spoken to about your feelings?
  • If someone you know has struggled through depression, what steps have been taken to help that person? How does depression affect the person and those around them?
  • How can you help depressed teenagers?



  • Depression is common, and sufferers tend to respond well to treatment.
  • This resource encourages anyone who is depressed or who helps someone who is depressed.
  • Teenagers are particularly difficult to diagnose as having depression.
  • The most important action for parents and youth workers is to stay involved in young people’s lives.


Dana Hess cCYS