It's important to understand the difference between anxiety and depression as both can affect young people like you. Let's break it down using information from the CDC:

Depression: Depression is like a persistent, heavy cloud that hangs over a person. Here's what it might feel like:

  • Persistent Sadness: Imagine feeling overwhelmingly sad, almost all the time, without a clear reason. It's like a never-ending rain shower in your heart.

  • Losing Interest: You know those things you used to love, like hobbies or hanging out with friends? Well, when you're depressed, they might not interest you anymore. It's like the color and joy have drained out of them.

  • Changes in Eating and Sleeping: Depression can mess with your eating and sleeping habits. You might eat way more than usual or barely have an appetite. Sleeping can become a struggle, either sleeping too much or too little.

  • Low Energy: Picture yourself feeling drained, like you're carrying a heavy backpack full of sadness. It's hard to find the energy to do anything.

  • Trouble Focusing: Imagine trying to concentrate, but your thoughts keep drifting into a fog of negativity. It's challenging to pay attention.

  • Feeling Worthless or Guilty: Sometimes, with depression, you might feel like you're not good enough or that everything's your fault. It's like carrying around a backpack of self-doubt.

  • Self-Injury and Self-Destructive Behavior: In some cases, depression might lead to self-harm or self-destructive behavior. It's a way to cope with the emotional pain.

Anxiety: Anxiety is like having a big, tangled ball of worries and fears that won't go away. Here's how it might feel:

  • Fears and Worries: Imagine being afraid or worried about things, even when there's no clear danger. These fears can be about specific things (like spiders or school) or more general (like the future).

  • Physical Symptoms: Anxiety can make your heart race, make you breathe faster, or even give you a queasy stomach. It's like your body is on high alert.

  • Irritability: Sometimes anxiety can make you feel irritable and easily frustrated. It's like a constant itch you can't scratch.

  • Sleep Troubles: Anxiety can mess with your sleep, making it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. You might wake up tired and on edge.

  • Keeping Worries to Yourself: Some anxious teens keep their fears hidden, so others might not notice. But those worries can still be there, just below the surface.

Feeling sad is a normal part of being an adolescent. Being worried occasionally is also a normal part of being a pre-teen/teen. When is it something more serious? When should you talk with someone about your feelings? Anytime you are feeling something that you don’t feel you know how to handle, reach out to a trusted adult. They will either help or connect you with someone who can!