Are you struggling with how to help a depressed friend? If so, you are not alone. Depression affects more than 3 million teenagers each year, and most of them have friends like you who are trying to find ways to help. Because you are a close friend, you are in a unique position to observe changes in mood and behavior, to be supportive and to help direct your friend to appropriate resources. However, it is important to remember that you are not a doctor and should not attempt to diagnose or treat anyone you think may be struggling with depression. Read on to learn more about depression in high school. Signs and Symptoms of Depression Depression is described as having a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure that lasts for more than two weeks and interferes with the ability to engage in everyday life functions. Depression can be mild (lasting a short period of time), chronic (persisting for two or more years) or major (a depressed mood in addition to at least four other symptoms that illustrate a change in functioning, such as problems with energy, sleeping, eating, concentration and self-image). Have you observed changes in your friend\u2019s behavior that could be related to any of these signs or symptoms? Signs of depression in high school are the same as the signs of depression in adults. They vary and can include persistent: \tSadness \tFeelings of emptiness, hopelessness, helplessness and pessimism \tFeelings of guilt or worthlessness \tAnxiety \tDecreased energy \tSleepiness or fatigue \tLoss of interest in activities previously enjoyed \tDifficulty sleeping or staying asleep \tRestlessness and irritability \tDifficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering \tUnexplained weight loss or gain \tSevere changes in appetite \tThoughts of death or suicide How to Help a Depressed Friend If you believe your friend may be suffering from depression, you can help them by following some simple tips. \tDo not ignore it. Depression can be a serious issue and often does not just \u201cgo away.\u201d It is important to try to get your friend to talk with their parents or an appropriate adult or doctor about their symptoms. \tBe supportive. Let your friend know that you are there for them and will support them, while also encouraging them to seek professional help for their difficulties. Be patient and do not try to get them to just \u201csnap out of it.\u201d Depression is difficult to deal with and requires medical or psychological treatment in order to get better. Depression cannot just be overcome with a \u201cstrong will.\u201d \tGet appropriate help. Many organizations can provide assistance to teens struggling with depression, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is a 24-hour, toll-free confidential service designed to help people in need. You can reach them by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. If access to healthcare is an issue, low- or no-cost resources can be found at https:\/\/findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov\/index.html. \tBe attentive. Pay attention to whether signs and symptoms appear to be worsening, and for signs of suicidal ideation. If it appears your friend may be contemplating suicide, take it very seriously and talk to a responsible adult. \tBe active together. Although your friend may not want to participate, continue to invite him or her to join you in physical activities that are easy to complete, will get them moving and help stimulate endorphins, which are the chemicals released by the brain that make a person feel good. While not a \u201ccure,\u201d physical exercise has been shown to help people with depression feel better. Choose Promises to Help Your Friend If your friend is struggling with depression in high school, they may try to self-medicate using alcohol or drugs. This can be extremely dangerous. However, at Promises Behavioral Health, we treat both addiction and mental health issues. We treat: \tHeroin addiction \tCocaine addiction \tAlcohol addiction \tOpiate addiction \tOpioid addiction Figuring out how to help a depressed friend can be a difficult task. Depression is a serious illness and requires a variety of interventions to achieve the best results. Don\u2019t be afraid to talk to your friend about how they are feeling. With proper treatment, people suffering from depression can recover and rediscover joy and meaning in life. Call to learn more.