Chasing the Blues Away
By Grace Leung
Seventeen Magazine

You lie in bed, staring at the ceiling as you listen to Coldplay and Damien Rice over and over. You ignore your best bud’s text messages, inviting you to hit the stores for the mall midnight sale. Your mom keeps knocking on your door to remind you to have dinner, but you don’t feel like eating. You’ve definitely got the blues.

REALLY DEPRESSED VS. JUST SAD

“I'm depressed.” This is something we often hear or blurt out to ourselves whenever we're feling a little down. Occasional sadness, however should not be confused with serious depression. Briedf moments of unhappiness because of events in one's life are normal and pass in time. You may feel sad because of a petty argument with your boyfriend or because you failed in an exam. You do know however, that in time, you won't feel so bad.

Being depressed is a stronger feeling that could last for a long time. “If it disrupts your routines and begines to affect your physiology, you may be experiencing clinical depression,” explains Dr. Randy Dellosa, psychotherapist and founder of Life Change Counseling Center and Psychiatry Clinic. Clinical depression is an emotional condition that needs professional advice, therapy, and at times medication. Among its many symptoms are withdrawal from friends and activities; lethargy or lack of enthusiasm, energy, and motivation; low self-esteem; and changes in eating and sleeping patterns.

How can you tell if you're really depressed or just sad? Aside from checking out the list of sympotms mentioned, you can consult other people who are in a position to give an objective assessment of your situation. This may be a peer counselor, a guidance counselor, a prist or pastor, an older member of the family, or a trained professional.

Dellosa says that ultimately, you are your own best judge. “Every person has a sense of whether a problem is overwhelming or not. It's good to listen to one's inner self.” He notes though that most teens should realize that excessively engaging in hobbies like network gaming and vices like smoking and drinking alcohol may abae masked depression.” “Boys in particular are taught early on not show their emotions,” observes Dellosa, “so they may turn to other ways to manifes their feelings of depression.”

WHY IT HAPPENS

Sadness is triggered by external factors-- events that may make you frustrated, question your self-worth, and give you a feeling of hopelessness. These triggers may not be the same for everyone. Teens, in particular, experiene a lot of different things that can make them feel down: the unfamiliar (and sometimes unwelcome) body changes, pressure to do well in school, increased expectations from family, finding your own identity while trying to fit in, career choices… the list is endless! For some, even happy occasions like the Christmas season can be a time for sadness. The holiday blues are often caused by unrealistic expectations from oneself and on’s family.

Clinical depression while also often caused by external factors, has roots within. “There’s a chemical imbalance in your brain, sometimes genetically-caused, that makes you more prone to depression,” explains Dr. Randy. “This imbalance, he says may happen with or without a problem.

HOW TO COPE AND FEEL BETTER

Since we can’t stop most of the external events from happening, and we certainly can’t control genetics, is there a way to not let sadness rule our lives? Definitely!

If you’re feeling sad… try something new; join organizations; and make new friends. If you think you’re seriously depressed, you may need the attention and care of trained professionals.

Whatever your level of sadness is, it is important to remember that help can be found everywhere, and that sooner or later, you will get over the blues.

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