Young People Ask . . .
Should I Tell Someone That I’m Depressed?
“When I feel depressed, at first I prefer not to talk about it because people may think that I am a problem child. But then I realize that I need to talk with someone in order to get some help.”—Alejandro, 13 years old.
“When I feel depressed, I don’t turn to my friends because I don’t think that they can help me. They would only make fun of me.”—Arturo, 13 years old.
ALMOST everyone gets the blues at times.* However, because you are young and relatively inexperienced, you can easily feel overwhelmed by life’s pressures. Demands from your parents, friends, and teachers; the physical and emotional changes of puberty; or the feeling that you are a failure because of some minor shortcoming—all these things can leave you feeling melancholy and sad.
When that happens, it’s good to have someone to confide in. “If I could not speak to someone about my problems, I think I would explode,” says 17-year-old Beatriz. Sad to say, though, many youths keep their troubles to themselves—and frequently find themselves slipping deeper and deeper into despair. María de Jesús Mardomingo, a professor at the Medical Faculty of Madrid, observes that young ones who get to the point of attempting suicide are often intensely lonely. Many young survivors of suicide attempts said that they had not been able to find a single adult with whom they could converse and in whom they could confide.
What about you? Do you have someone to talk to when you feel down? If not, to whom might you turn?
Talk to Your Parents
Alejandro, quoted at the outset, describes what he does when he feels depressed: “I go to my mother because ever since I was born, she has been supportive of me, and she gives me confidence. I also turn to my father because he has had experiences similar to mine. If I feel bad and do not tell anyone, then I feel worse.” Rodolfo, an 11-year-old, recalls: “Sometimes the teacher would belittle me and scold me, so I felt very sad. I would go to the rest room to cry. Then, later on, I talked to my mother, and she helped me solve my problem. If I had not talked with her, I would have felt sadder.”
Have you considered having a heart-to-heart talk with your parents? Perhaps you feel that they could not possibly understand your problems. But is that really the case? They may not fully understand all the pressures young ones face in today’s world; however, isn’t it true that they probably know you better than anyone else in the world does? Alejandro says: “Sometimes it is not easy for my parents to sympathize with me and understand just how I feel.” Nevertheless, he admits: “I know that I can turn to them.” Often youths are surprised to find out just how well their parents do understand their problems! Because they are older and have more experience, often they can offer helpful advice—this is particularly true if they have experience in applying Bible principles.
“When I speak with my parents, I receive encouragement and practical solutions to my problems,” says Beatriz, quoted earlier. With good reason, then, the Bible offers this counsel for youths: “Observe, O my son, the commandment of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Listen to your father who caused your birth, and do not despise your mother just because she has grown old.”—Proverbs 6:20; 23:22.
Of course, it’s hard to confide in your parents if you have a poor relationship with them. According to Dr. Catalina González Forteza, a study conducted among high school students showed that those who said that they had attempted to take their lives had feelings of low self-esteem and had a poor relationship with their parents. In contrast, youths who avoid such self-destructive thinking are generally “those who enjoy a good relationship with their mother and father.”
Therefore, wisely work on cultivating a good relationship with your parents. Get in the habit of conversing with them regularly. Tell them what’s going on in your life. Ask them questions. Such lighthearted conversations may make it easier to approach them when you have a serious problem.
Talking to a Friend
But wouldn’t it be easier to go to a peer with your problems? Well, it’s good to have friends you can trust. Proverbs 18:24 says that “there exists a friend sticking closer than a brother.” But while peers can offer you sympathy and support, they may not always offer the best advice. After all, they usually have no more life experience than you do. Remember Rehoboam? He was a king in Bible times. Instead of accepting the counsel of experienced, mature men, he listened to his peers. The outcome? Disaster! Rehoboam lost both the support of most of his nation and God’s approval.—1 Kings 12:8-19.
Another problem with confiding in peers might be the matter of confidentiality. Arturo, quoted at the outset, observes: “Most of the boys I know talk to their friends when they feel sad. But later on, their friends reveal everything to others and make fun of them.” Thirteen-year-old Gabriela has had a similar experience. She says: “One day I found out that my friend was telling my personal affairs to a friend of hers, so I did not confide in her anymore. Yes, I talk to people of my age, but I try not to tell them things that could affect me adversely if they were to tell them to others.” So when you are looking for help, it is important to find someone who does “not reveal the confidential talk of another.” (Proverbs 25:9) Such a person is more likely to be someone who is older than you.
So if for some reason you are unable to find support at home, it’s all right to find a friend to confide in, but make sure that he or she has experience in life and a knowledge of Bible principles. In the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, no doubt there are individuals who fit that description. Sixteen-year-old Liliana says: “I have confided in some of my Christian sisters, and this has been quite good. Since they are older than I am, their advice is sound. They have become my friends.”
What if your spirituality has also begun to suffer? Perhaps you’ve been so sad that you’ve begun to neglect prayer or Bible reading. At James 5:14, 15, the Bible gives this advice: “Is there anyone sick among you? Let him call the older men of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, greasing him with oil in the name of Jehovah. And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up.” The local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses has older men who have experience in helping people who are discouraged or spiritually ill. Feel free to talk to them. The Bible says that such men can be “like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm.”—Isaiah 32:2.
“Let Your Petitions Be Made Known to God”
The very best source of help, however, is “the God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3) When you are sad and depressed, follow the advice of Philippians 4:6, 7: “Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.” Jehovah is always willing to listen to you. (Psalm 46:1; 77:1) And sometimes prayer is all that you need to ease your mind.
If you feel sad or depressed from time to time, never forget that many other youths have had the same feelings. In time, those feelings will usually go away. But in the meantime, do not suffer alone. Let someone know that you are hurting. Proverbs 12:25 states: “Anxious care in the heart of a man is what will cause it to bow down, but the good word is what makes it rejoice.” How do you get that “good word” of encouragement? By telling someone—someone with the experience, knowledge, and godly wisdom to give you the comfort and help that you need.
If sad feelings persist, it may indicate a serious emotional or physical disorder. Prompt medical attention is recommended. See the article “Winning the Battle Against Depression,” in the March 1, 1990, issue of our companion journal, The Watchtower.
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“When I speak with my parents, I receive encouragement and practical solutions”
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God-fearing parents, rather than your peers, are usually in the best position to give you advice