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Friendships throughout the teenage years are a crucial part of our health and happiness. Sometimes our friends need our support, and other times we’re on the receiving end. Nurturing friendships through communication, respect, and empathy is important and can play a key role in our mental health during the teen years and beyond.

So what do you do when you suspect a friend is depressed? Many times, friends are the first to notice a change in mood or disposition. Once involved in school activities, a friend struggling with depression may start to pull away and spend more time alone. They may complain of physical pains like headaches and stomach aches.

Other signs to watch for include:

  • Changes in sleep patterns: Some people with depression are so tired that they feel like all they can do is sleep, while others struggle to sleep at all.
  • Anger: Depression can make people very irritable and even filled with rage. A person who is depressed may find that everything annoys them.
  • Low energy: Finding the energy to tackle something that once seemed easy — taking a shower or leaving the house, going to the mall to buy a present or going to the movies, etc., can seem overwhelming to some people battling depression.

If you notice these symptoms in a friend, you can help by acknowledging that their warning signs are serious and warrant attention from a trusted adult. As a close friend, you are also in a good position to encourage treatment. Remember, someone will be more willing to talk about his or her problem and get the treatment he or she needs with your support.

In these situations it is important to remember the ACT message: acknowledge that you are  seeing signs of depression in a friend and  that it is serious, let your friend know that you care about them and that you are concerned that s/he needs help you cannot provide, and tell a trusted adult that you are worried about your friend.

Simply letting a friend know you care can make a big difference. People with depression can feel very isolated, and learning that someone is there and cares can go a long way. Friends are essential in helping others who are depressed.

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