By Berney Wilkinson
When you think of depression, you probably imagine the stereotypical person who has withdrawn from others, cries inconsolably, and stays in bed all day. While this is the common picture of a depressed adult, adolescents with depression often present quite differently. Depressed teenagers may be sad, withdrawn, and disinterested; or they can be irritable, angry, and confrontational.
Teenagers are different for a variety of reasons. They may misunderstand their emotions or may not know how to express how they are feeling. Most importantly, they often feel alone, as though they are the only one who feels bad. In mental health we refer to this as a “personal fable.” That is, they feel as though their feelings are unique to themselves and that no one else has ever experienced what they are going through. This leads to feelings of hopelessness and they have a difficult time seeing how things could ever get better. We call these “cognitive distortions.”