Am I Depressed or Just Not Trying?
I think I might be depressed. I’m having a hard time paying attention in class. I just feel sad for no reason, like I can’t cope. I told my parents, and they took me to a doctor because I was also having headaches and stress. My checkup was normal. My mom listens and tries to help me feel better. My dad says I’m just not trying hard enough at school. Maybe he’s right. What should I do?
Sometimes, friends or family members recognize that someone is depressed. They may respond with love, kindness, or support, hoping that the sadness will soon pass. They may offer to listen if the person wants to talk. If the depressed feeling doesn’t pass with a little time, friends or loved ones may encourage the person to get help from a doctor, therapist, or counselor.
But not everyone recognizes depression when it happens to someone they know or love.
Some people don’t really understand about depression. For example, they may react to a depressed person’s low energy with criticism, saying the person is acting lazy or not trying. Some mistakenly believe that depression is just an attitude or a mood that someone can shake off. They don’t realize it’s not that easy.
Sometimes, even people who are depressed don’t take their condition seriously enough. Some feel that they are weak in some way, or disappointing others because they are depressed. This isn’t right — and it can even be harmful if it causes people to hide their depression and avoid getting help.
Occasionally, when depression causes physical symptoms (things like headaches or other stress-related problems), a person may see a doctor. Once in a while, even a well-meaning doctor may not realize somebody is depressed. He or she may just pay attention to the physical symptoms.
Talk to your parents again. Tell them how you feel. Since your mom seems willing to listen, you might want to start by talking to her. You might mention that you’ve been reading up on depression and, based on the symptoms you are having, you think that might be what’s going on with you. If it’s easier, show your parents one of our articles on depression.
Ask your parents to arrange for you to meet with a counselor or therapist to find out how you can feel better.
If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere with your parents, talk to your school counselor. This is just the type of thing counselors are there to help solve — especially when it is affecting your schoolwork. Your counselor also may be able to help you when it comes to talking to your parents.
Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2014
*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.