young boy wearing a backpack standing in front of a blackboard with his head down. Text reads: 23 signs you grew up with depression

23 Signs You Grew Up With Depression


Growing up, most of us aren’t taught to look out for signs of depression. So if you’re experiencing it, especially as a teenager, it’s easy to think there’s just something wrong with you — and it’s easy for parents and other adults to pass you off as another moody kid.

But young people do get depression — we just need to know the signs. To find out how people knew they were living with depression, we asked our mental health community to share, in hindsight, signs they had depression.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “Looking back on it, I constantly felt guilt and had a hard a time fitting in with anyone. I was a very cautious and shy kid.” — Poppy W.

2. “I cried a lot and wasn’t as happy as the other kids. I was unmotivated and didn’t want to shower; my room was a mess and I would stay inside and play games all day. I had trouble making friends because I was super shy, and that turned into anxiety (these issues have some childhood trauma factors and environmental factors as well).” — Hannah F.

3. “For me it was never feeling good enough, like no matter how hard I tried I just wasn’t like everyone else, especially my two older sisters. Then the increased emotions came. I would get so upset or so mad so quickly and without reason. I didn’t realize I had depression until this year.” — Ashley G.

4. “Whenever I climbed a tree or somewhere up high looking down I thought how nice it would be if I was high enough to jump. Never knew that was a concerning thought.” — Brittany B.

5. “When I was really young, like grade-school, I never understood why all of the other children were so happy and carefree. Everyone else seemed great at making friends and enjoyed being a child, but I couldn’t enjoy anything. I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness even at a young age. Nothing was enjoyable, I couldn’t make or keep friends, I was constantly doubting myself and worrying about every little thing. I questioned my existence on a daily basis, I just couldn’t be happy, but was too young to understand what depression was.” — Audrey L.

6. “For me, it was not being able to focus. My grades dropped from straight As to Fs from what seemed like out of nowhere. I didn’t feel the excitement of doing anything anymore. I got extremely detached from everyone, I no longer cared what happened to me. I just kind of stayed away from other kids, and it took more effort than I’d like to admit to even talk to anyone. I stopped taking care of myself. I got made fun of for it. I ended up extremely suicidal from everything and to hide the fact that I was suicidal, I ended up just faking a smile and not showing any other emotions.” — Athena C.

7. “Losing all your friends, sleeping all the time, never wanting to wake up, not wanting to eat, never wanting to hang out with the people you would normally hang out with, not bothering to do your normal routine, grades slipping because you just don’t care anymore, jealously and anger at anyone who seems to be happy.” — Danee C.

8. “Feeling more tired, losing interest in things I loved, being less outgoing, more shy. I used to not care what people thought of me until I became severely bullied and beaten. I then started worrying what people thought of me. I felt mentally drained and didn’t enjoy school and was distant from good friends.” — Karalyn G.

9. “In high school, I would wake up and cry because I had to go to school. I was afraid all of the time. I got overwhelmed by schoolwork that should have been easy for me. On one occasion, I seriously contemplated suicide because of an assignment due that I hadn’t started. Looking back, there are years that are very dim and hard to remember — a trait of my adult depressive episodes. I’m lucky I didn’t happen to know anyone who drank or used drugs, because I’m sure I would have used those things as an out.” — Genevieve O.

10. “Your brain will tell you worst possible scenarios. Intrusive thoughts will be mean to you and tell you that you don’t deserve to enjoy life. The thoughts will tell you to abstain from things you enjoy. Depression is a living being trying to always bring you down.” — Keith B.

11. “I quit my first university due to ‘home sickness.’ Now I’ve realized it was depression that caused the fatigue, social anxiety and loss of interest in everything I had been doing.” — Magdalena K.

12. “The psychosomatic parts of it that my family didn’t recognize or even know about. The headaches, the tummy aches, coming home from school with panic attacks, unable to sleep at night, or sleeping too much. I was so young. And looking back, the signs were always there.” — Jessica I.

13. “Longing for death and wanting to die since the tender age of 7. I still have my journals from back then. Perhaps it started even earlier, when I was even younger I played at the local graveyard a lot, laying down on graves and wishing to die. Ever since I was little I always felt unwanted, like I was a burden to everybody and nobody wanted to have me around. When I tried to open up they told me I was being dramatic, oversensitive, I was acting out and I was just weird and it was all in my head.  I had problems focussing, finishing schoolwork and my grades were terrible. I hated the world so I made my own world in my head. I still go there sometimes.” — Ezra P.

14. “I frequently felt frustrated that everyone thought it was funny that I was so unhappy all of the time. My teachers, especially in high school, would revel when I would crack a smile and laugh. Looking back on those moments makes me realize how I went about creating this mask/persona that embraces the comedy to hide the reality of my self-loathing and angry tragedy that rumbles on the inside.” — Sean C.

15. “I had really bad anger issues, and it was hard to control my emotions. I didn’t know what was wrong with me when I was a teenager, it was really hard. I was suicidal and self-harmed. I wish I had been diagnosed earlier, instead of having friends and teachers tell me I was faking it for attention.” — Kate W.

16. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel exhausted. In middle school and the beginning of high school, I begged my parents to be homeschooled because I always stayed up at night crying about having to go there the next day. Either that, or I would stay up to make sure my homework was perfect, because if it wasn’t, that meant I was stupid and worthless.” — Sarah K.

17. “I was constantly dwelling over every mistake. There were times where I wished I would be treated as less than family and that I didn’t deserve a bed. I was constantly feeling as less than my siblings and had a streak to be perfect. I was constantly overloading my schedule with extracurriculars to get more attention from teachers because I felt so incredibly alone.” — Aislinn G.

18. “I was scared of everything. I wet myself many times at school because I was frightened of getting locked in the toilets. I once walked out of school and went home by myself — aged about 5 — because I just couldn’t cope with being there. And I started to self-harm in a very minor way — hitting myself with my hairbrush until I bruised — at around 8 years of age. But I could never tell anyone how I felt, or let my guard down; I was the one who never cried, even when I broke my leg. I was officially diagnosed with depression aged 13.” — Lucy D.

19. “From a young age, I would fantasize about suicide. Stories about me or imagined characters I would think up while daydreaming. I remember either oversleeping or not being able to sleep for long periods. I would get nagged by my mom so I thought I was just lazy.” — Chelsea M.

20. “I remember writing in this diary I had when I was like 7 or 8 that I just wanted to ‘go away.’ Not to run away but disappear completely right there and then. It’s weird because I didn’t really know the concept of suicide back then, but I just remember not wanting to exist.” — Kate S.

21. “Always feeling like there was a black cloud casting a shadow over me even when things were happy. Never feeling like I was enough — I always could have been better. Feeling ashamed of myself for no real reason… just feeling like I didn’t fit in anywhere. Like I didn’t belong in this life. Thoughts and feelings I’ve had ever since I was little but didn’t realize it was depression and anxiety for many years.” — Jennifer L.

22. “I had no desire to be around my parents or friends. I would stay in my room and read constantly to avoid being around people. I couldn’t pay attention in school (but still made straight As so my parents weren’t concerned). I would chew on the hem of my shirt and pick at my lips almost constantly.” — Amanda M.

23. “For me, it was not being able to sleep, feeling guilty for no reason, that’s what got me. I was scared of things I’ve never been scared of before, and most of the time the world felt like it was crashing down around me. I’m thankful I had a nurse sister who caught the signs and told me to see a doctor, but not everyone is as lucky. Your feelings matter and are valid. If you feel like there’s something wrong, get checked! Because you never know.” — Devin W.


If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

23 Signs You Grew Up With Depression


image from disney movie moana

How Disney's 'Moana' Reminded Me I'm More Than My Depression

As a certified Disney enthusiast, it’s not a complete surprise that I loved “Moana,” but the music of this movie has affected me in a way I hadn’t anticipated.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I need to emphasize that you absolutely should. Spoilers: It’s amazing. Aside from the incredible songs, the story is moving, the animation is beautiful, and the characters are entertaining.

Ever since I watched the movie, I’ve been obsessively listening to the soundtrack. There’s something about listening to the Polynesian lyrics that I find has a calming effect — “Tulou Tagaloa,” “An Innocent Warrior,” “Logo Te Pate,” and “We Know The Way” all contain lyrics in the Tokelauan language.

However, the songs that had the biggest impact on me were “How Far I’ll Go,” its reprise, and “I Am Moana.” Auli’i Cravalho, who voices Moana in the movie, has a beautiful voice, and the lyrics in these songs have done wonders for my self-confidence over the last few days:

If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know
How far I’ll go

If I can keep pushing forward, I can do things I’ve only dreamed of. The future is full of possibilities, and there’s no limit to what I can do if I just try.

All the time wondering where I need to be
Is behind me
I’m on my own
To worlds unknown

I don’t need to stay somewhere familiar. I can find a new home, somewhere where I feel like I belong. The world is a big place, and there’s nothing wrong with exploring it to find my place in life.

Every turn I take
Every trail I track
Is a choice I make
Now I can’t turn back
From the great unknown 
Where I go alone
Where I long to be

Going somewhere that’s unfamiliar can be scary, but it’s also a choice. I can choose to take a risk and to try something new. I can choose to travel and explore new places. I can choose to chase my dreams.

I am everything I’ve learned and more

Everything that has happened in my life has shaped me. My decisions, my experiences, my hopes, my fears, my failures, my successes, my friends and family, the strangers I have met. My existence is contingent on the world making its impact on me. I could not be who I am today without these things, and I know the world is going to continue making me into the person I am meant to be.

I will carry you here in my heart
You’ll remind me
That come what may, I know the way

The people I have lost are not truly gone, and it’s OK to miss them, but I also know I can make it through the difficult times in my life. I am not alone. I have the memories of people I love to help me through whatever hardships I face.

When I face a particularly difficult day, I feel as though listening to these songs will help me remember just how strong I am. Depression does not define me. I am more than my depression — I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a writer, a feminist. I am also all the Disney movies I’ve watched and loved, I am the laughter I shared with my friends, I am the places I have visited, I am the stories I have written, I am the love I have experienced.

Thank you, Moana, for reminding me just how versatile humanity is and that I’m more than my depression.

Image via Contributor.

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A Letter to My Faithful Companion, Depression

It’s that friend you wish you never befriended. The person you just can’t seem to get away from. The constant reminder of how much of a failure you are. A distant and unwanted presence you carry within yourself.

Hi Depression,

Welcome back, I thought everything was going well. I was lying in bed for the first time in a while, smiling, happy with myself. Then, you came along and ruined it once again. You pressured all the negativity into my mind: “They hate you,” “How could he like someone like you?” “Stop being happy and realize you don’t deserve it.” It’s like you always get in the way of my happiness and make me realize my brightest days are just dreams that only last until the nightmare takes over.

I was hoping you gave up, like I did. Unwilling to tear me down any further, you left me alone and moved on. Clearly, I was mistaken. You came back like a rush of cold air, blowing through every flaw I have and created more, the ones I must have missed the times before.

You were there when nobody else was, the times I would rather have been alone. I broke so many times because you laid heavy upon my back and gave me no breathing room. You tied my hands so tightly together, I couldn’t escape from the game of Cops and Robbers. I was forever the prisoner.

You gave me a home. However, that place was nothing but sadness and grief. It was to the point where I knew I didn’t belong, here nor there. I didn’t know if I belonged within my own body, as if I was just a waste of air.

Air, my breath turned from warmth into ice cold frost. I was a soul that could not be mended by a needle and thread. Only if my hands would stop shaking from my fears, I could put the thread through the tiny hole of reality. I wanted to give up. I breathe so suddenly as I am holding on to every second and cherish it until you come back.

You destroyed me, broke me from my friends and family and left me here to defend for myself and pick up the pieces you left behind. I know you’ll be back, maybe within minutes, maybe even tonight. I’ll lie in bed and wait for you because no matter what happens, you always come back.

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A Long List of Things to Keep You Going When You Feel Lost to Depression

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

Sometimes in the midst of deep depression, you may experience suicidal thoughts and ideation, and it is not pleasant. You may not want to feel that way, but the suicidal thoughts might tell you that ending it all is the only way out, and they are so persistent this is all you can believe — because depression takes away the motivation to even let yourself think about positivity.

I’ll never find an accurate way of describing every little bit of depression, but for me, it is a little bit like trying to build a house when I’m given a different set of tools every day. Sometimes, the tools I need just won’t be there. This means that some days, I can’t do anything — I just have to watch the minutes pass by. I have no energy to do anything else but wait for the day to come when I get the right tools to finish each job. Sometimes this can go on for a day, even a few hours, sometimes a week, a month, sometimes six months, or longer. On those days when you just have to watch the world go by, it can give the depression time to swallow you up in its dark thoughts. This can be overwhelming. To the point where you just want to end it all.

When I found myself lost in the dark of depression from time to time, I found it helped to remind myself of what I had to live for. It was a tough thing to do, because the depression took away my energy to think of positive things — so to help you out, here is a long list of things that could help you to keep going:

Your family.

The summer days.

Getting into a warm bed when it’s been raining all day.

That new book that is coming out soon.

The next season of your favorite TV program.

Your dog/cat/any other pets.

Seeing your best friend.

Making plans with your best friend.

If you work — pay day.

Going shopping and spending your money (wisely).

Reading the last few pages of that book you wanted to save (you can always read it all again).


Spending hours on your computer watching funny videos.

Doing your hair in a new hairstyle.

Doing your makeup differently.

Getting new stationery.

Writing with a new pen that you bought.

Making things from fun DIY videos.

Redecorating your room.

Being able to teach somebody something that you enjoy.

Going to the zoo.

Watching your favorite film on repeat.

Listening to your favorite song on repeat.

Climbing to the top of a hill and taking in your surroundings.

Rolling back down the hill.

Taking a long walk and then snuggling up on the sofa and watching TV.

Going for a run (sensibly).

Wearing that new outfit you bought.

Making dens with friends/family/just by yourself.

Sleeping under the stars.

Playing a family favorite board game.

Telling a funny joke and making people cry of laughter.

Going on holiday somewhere sunny/really cold.

Making a meal you’ve never made before.

Trying new foods at a takeaway.

Playing hide-and-seek and finding a new hiding place (you’re never too old).

Making Christmas decorations.

Making Halloween decorations.

Making Easter decorations.

Just making decorations in general.

Going sightseeing.

Taking pictures with your friends and making collages.

Making a scrapbook.

Buying flowers and making the house smell nice.

Having a relaxing day at home with only close family or friends.

The list could go on, but hopefully this gives you the idea that sometimes we just have to take life by each hour, minute even, and live for the little things in life — for one day we may realize the little things can be the biggest things. Living with depression or any other mental illness can be exhausting, and even a single day can take sheer strength and power. Remember this: So far, you have survived 100 percent of all of your worst days. The days when you struggled, the days when you thought you could no longer go on, you kept on going — and if that doesn’t define strength, then I don’t know what does.

I’m proud of you.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

A version of this post originally appeared on Rediscovering Happiness.

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I'm Not 'Feeling Depressed,' I Have Depression

There is one thing I need you, whoever you may be, to understand.

When I say I have depression, it does not mean I occasionally feel the emotion of being “depressed”; it means I have a mental illness. I have depression. For me, this means I wake up every morning with a new sense of self-hate and getting out of bed is a major victory. It means that some days I don’t get out of bed or have any feeling at all. I feel numb, like there is nothing else around me but darkness and bitter cold. I don’t eat or do anything to help myself, because I see no point.

When I say I have depression, it means on a daily basis my head is poisoned with thoughts of suicide and self-destruction. I want to talk about it, but events in my past have lead me to thinking that no one wants to hear it. I believe I am unimportant and a “burden” to this world. When I say I have depression, it means the chemicals inside of my brain are different.

If you understood this, it might surprise you, I know. Because on the outside I smile a lot. I put others above myself, and I can seem friendly and outgoing. You probably wouldn’t imagine that any of the thoughts I have constantly were mine. I can seem so happy…

I live with high-functioning depression; it does not mean I am happy all the time, but rather that I have learned to hide it and mask the pain I feel so heavily. However, I am happy. When I can’t help myself, I have friends to support me and hold me up. When I feel like nothing is going to get better and the world will always be a weight on my shoulders, I have other things to believe and things to hold onto.

It’s not easy. Some of us take medication or seek professional help, as I do. Every day can be a battle when you have depression, and everyday things can, and may always, be challenges — but it gets better. One thing I do know is the truth about my illness, and it helps me to understand it. I am not depressed, I am not a depressing person, I just have depression. So don’t ever let anyone make you think you’re just feeling an emotion that will move away, because that may not be the case. And letting those thoughts grow can only make things worse. Understand that you can still be happy and not let those thoughts take you over, but you’re likely always going to feel something when you have depression. Understand that, and know you are not alone.

Image via Thinkstock.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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When Depression Returns

I forgot what it was like. It seems funny I would forget since it’s such a terrible state to be stuck in.

For more than two years, I’ve been battling diagnosis after diagnosis. Chronic illness is here, and it’s here to stay. There’s no escaping it.

Everyone asks when I will get better. The answer is never. That’s what chronic means. Chronic illnesses are lifelong diseases, which almost always end up compounding on each other so that you end with more issues than you started with.

I’ve always said that my mental illness journey eight years ago prepared me for a life of chronic illness. Going back further than that, there were a few open heart surgeries. This is the life I believe I was meant to lead, from the very beginning. Normally, I handle it pretty well.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the mental illness coming back, the overwhelming and crushing waves of depression. You would think I would remember how terrible it feels to be depressed since I spent about a year in a serious and deep depressive episode. Yet, I don’t. I don’t remember these feelings.

Somewhere, in my memories, perhaps locked away to protect me, is the feeling of depression from years ago. All I know right now, regardless of how my depression manifested itself in the several major episodes I’ve had since early high school, is that the depression is here. It is here, and it is immobilizing.

I can’t think about going out of the house. I cry at everything. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I isolate myself more and more each day, not returning phone calls and texts. I’ve canceled and rescheduled more appointments than I care to admit in the last few weeks. I haven’t been able to listen to my favorite music or write most of the time.

I just can’t do it. I can’t find that motivation to do anything. I just want to hide.

I want to be in my room, with the curtains drawn, the lights off and my headphones on full blast. I want to lie in bed and sleep all day and all night, but when you’re struggling with insomnia that’s a little bit difficult. I have no appetite. I don’t want to be alone, but I can’t stand being around people. Every time I think of leaving my little cave, the task of getting ready and going out into the world is so daunting and overwhelming I just choose instead to stay in my safe spot.

I’ve lived with bipolar disorder for almost 10 years now. I was lucky to go six years without a major mood episode. I am lucky that my mental illness has not reared its ugly (and uninvited) head during the last two years as I’ve battled my physical ailments.

However, now, it’s here, and it’s suffocating me.

I’ve been through this before, many times. Yet, each time is just as hard as the last. The only solace I have is in knowing that “this too shall pass.” I’ve made it through all of my episodes before. I always come out of them, although I never know how long I will be in there for.

For now, I’ve made appointments with my psychiatrist and my therapist. I’m setting up my safety nets and support systems. I at least did that right. For now, I just have to sit with it. Every therapist I have ever had has always told me that sometimes you just have to “sit with your feelings.” The only way to sort them out is to feel them.

That’s great therapeutic advice, and I understand what they mean when they say that, but have you ever tried to just “sit” with a major depressive episode or raging anxiety? I don’t want to “sit” with it. It feels terrible already, and you want me to “sit” here and feel it more? I want it to go away. I want it to go back to the recesses of my brain, a place it has stayed for several years and not ever come out again. I don’t want to be depressed. I don’t have time to be depressed.

Depression doesn’t seem to care. It’s here, even though I did everything I could to stave it off. It’s terrible. It is absolutely and completely terrible. It’s not something I’d wish on anyone, yet it’s the leading causes of disability and an estimated 350 million people around the globe live with depression. Clearly, there are a lot of people out there right now, struggling just as I am.

When I say depression, I’m not talking about the fact that I’m sad my phone is broken and eight days outside of its warranty period. Sadness is not the only symptom of depression. Other symptoms include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling unworthy
  • Feeling guilty
  • Losing interest in things you previously had interest in
  • Socially isolating yourself
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight loss/weight gain
  • Low libido
  • Suicidal ideation

So no, I’m not just sad. Sadness is not the same as clinical depression. I can check off almost every one of those boxes, and if you looked at the DSM-V criteria for a major depressive episode I, then the consummate overachiever, got close to 100 percent.

It comes in waves. Sometimes, I’m fine, laughing with my partner, but at a drop of a hat, I can be in tears, have a panic attack or start sliding down that slippery slope that depression is best friends with. The slippery slope is a cascade of thoughts, and they each lead you further down the road of despair.

Depression is a liar. Depression poisons my brain. It takes over my normally rational thoughts and replaces them with toxic, negative thoughts. Although I know rationally these thoughts aren’t accurate, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have the ability to reason with my brain. Mental illness, no matter what kind, does not respond to rationality or logic.

Depression has no rhyme or reason. It can affect anyone, anywhere. If you are struggling, then there are resources available. Sometimes, it’s too overwhelming to even look for them, especially if you don’t know where to begin to look.

I have a protocol for just these types of episodes. I know what to do when I’m manic. I know what to do when I’m depressed. Yet, I just can’t. I can’t do anything. I guess my therapists were right after all. I just have to sit with it until is passes.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

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