“Life can get you down so I just numb the way it feels
I drown it with a drink and out-of-date prescription pills
And all the ones that love me they just left me on the shelf
No farewell
So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself
– Ed Sheeran

Teen years are exciting times. But they can also be times of stress and uncertainty – a new school, new friends, leaving home, relationship breakups, pressure to ace the test. Sometimes, and for some, the pressure can just get too much to handle. We can’t breathe, we can’t sleep. Life seems like just one hot mess. And if not recognised or managed, it can lead us down the slippery slope to depression. Here are five facts to know about depression so you can reach for help for yourself or someone you love.

1Depression – you’re not alone.

Did you know that one in five Malaysian students suffered mental health problems in 2016? Apparently half of all mental health conditions start by the age of 14 … and most cases, say the World Health Organization, are undetected and untreated.

Depression, one form of mental health problem, is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among teenagers globally; while suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers 15–19 years old according to the World Health Organization. In 2016, an estimated 62,000 teenagers died as a result of self-harm. Suicide attempts can be impulsive or associated with a feeling of hopelessness or loneliness.

2Bullying can trigger depression.

Bullying —whether it’s online, at school, or elsewhere—can be a difficult and painful experience. It can make you feel helpless, hopeless, and ashamed: the perfect recipe for depression.

Other life experiences that can trigger depression include the death of a loved one, academic problems, trauma from violence and abuse, including sexual violence; stressful family problems, and parental divorce; coping with your sexual identity in an unsupportive environment; loneliness and a lack of social support.

Read: Is social media bad for teens’ mental health?

3Recognise the signs and symptoms.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you or a loved one is suffering from depression. The more open we are about our struggles, the easier it will become for everyone to talk about mental health. The first step is to recognise the signs and symptoms.

People with depression may constantly be feeling irritable, sad, or angry. They may feel helpless and hopeless; and bad about themselves. They could be sensitive to criticism and may have frequent, unexplained headaches or other physical pains or problems. They experience a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and/or thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

4Speak to someone you trust

If you’re feeling confused, stressed, helpless and anxious, don’t bear it up alone. Seek help and find someone you trust to talk to. For emotional support, you can call the Befrienders KL at 03-7957 1306, 04-281 5161/1108 in Penang, 05-5477 933/955 in Ipoh or e-mail sam@befrienders.org.my.

Befrienders are multiracial, non-religious and are available to everyone, regardless of race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation. You may remain completely anonymous, keeping your name private.

5Shoo the blues away.

Don’t let negativity rule your life. Be aware of any persistent dark thoughts and self-criticism and hold these at bay with positive thoughts. Give a pat on your shoulder for your achievements no matter how small these may be. Don’t forget to eat; and exercise even if it’s just a short walk. The activity and workout will help you sleep.

And remember, even though it may not feel like it at the moment, people do love and care about you.

And in the words of ||Superwoman|| Lilly Singh, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador – “Today can be a good day or a bad day. Either way, the choice is yours. Happy Living to you all.”