Teen depression isn’t a joke. It’s not something that can be brushed aside, it’s not, as is quite commonly heard, something that can be easily “cured” or gotten rid of. It is, quite simply, a pandemic inflicting teens and adults across the globe.

As we continue to progress into this modern era, it’s no secret that the world has become more interconnected. The internet allows access to social media and resources at the tips of our fingers. Fashion shows, celebrity gossip, updates on the latest technological phenomenon flood news feeds, the first things we see when we wake up every morning and the last thoughts that consume our brains before we go to sleep. As a teen, I’ve noticed that while there are plenty of pros of this various technology, the cons are just as inevitable. Competition booms, teens begin comparing themselves to unattainable standards in fashion, intellect, and talent. The result of this, against the intentions of society, is the invariable cause of teen depression. The unfortunate companion to this epidemic is that, characteristic of anxiety and depression, victims refuse to admit or even realize their affliction. Even when they have the slightest inkling that something is wrong, those around him/her offer advice to “brush it off”, not realizing the true severity of the situation. Depression itself can come from plenty of outlets including divorce, not fulfilling expectations, lack of success, or even low self esteem. I’ve compiled a list of things that helped me get through hard phases, and some steps those around me afflicted with depression also followed in hopes of helping others who may have similar experiences.

1. Talk to those around you

Your friends, family, teachers, and counselors are all great resources. They are here to help in any way they can. Depression can make you feel vulnerable and more introverted, but trust me, talking to others about it does more good than harm. They can offer advice in handling the situation, guide you in progressive stress, and even be a shoulder to cry on through the hard times. Someone to hug, someone to hold, someone to give you sugary treats, these are people that are vital in your recovery and success.

2. Venture to creative outlets to console the mind (writing, reading, music)

Music has a huge impact on the brain. Listening to calming tunes, meditation music, or even the sound of the ocean or rain drops on a gutter outside can really placate the mind. Writing is also a great way to let out the influx of emotions. Bottling up is being unnecessarily tough on yourself, and you deserve better. Write how you are feeling down in a journal, and let the stress be removed from your inner core. For others, sometimes reading is the best activity. Being immersed in fictional worlds of enchanted figures, reading fascinating stories of true love, or even reliving the fantasies that one once had as a child offer powerful tools for reinvigorating your mind.

3. A small dose of physical activity goes a long way

A lot of times going outside and breathing fresh air is refreshing and can offer soothing solitude. Running, swimming, or even a friendly game of basketball are great ways to venture out to take your mind off things.

4. Don’t let this period of vulnerability lead you to do things that you may later regret

Many notoriously turn to drugs, alcohol, etc., but realize that these are not the answers to your problems. Later on, more than you know, you will regret engaging in these activities, and they are not the be-all end-all ways to alleviate pain.

5. Realize that it’s not a never ending spiral — it won’t last forever if you don’t let it

It’s easy to think that this is it. This is the end, and things only get worse from here. Except that this is completely not the case. It only gets worse if you let it. It gets better if you choose that path. Turn yourself away from negative thoughts now. Degrading yourself? No more of that. Taking insults and malicious thoughts to heart is never the solution. If these are coming from other people, it’s because they envy you or are insecure themselves. Negativity only leads to more negativity, but it’s never too late to turn yourself around and work towards a more positive mindset.

6. Channel your energy towards helping others

Take action now. There’s plenty of positive good in our community spreading awareness of this pressing cause, but these are usually campaigns that come after tragic events. Our goal as active members in society is to take preventative measures in order to look out for future lives at risk, and it doesn’t take much if each individual person got involved and urged on others. Local high schools in the Cincinnati area have created hashtags #sycamorestrong and #masonstrong, engaging in active fundraising for the cause and enlisting the help of the community to emphasize that it’s just the little things that make a huge difference. Sticky notes on lockers? Classic small act of kindness. Stand up to a bully. Ask someone sitting alone in the cafeteria to sit at your table. Don’t make fun of people that are different by the way they dress or the things they say, they could be suffering from the same depression and anxiety. Be a set of ears for others going through tough times. Give back to the community. Be a voice for change, and through your own talents change the world.

Originally published at medium.com