• It’s often scary to be diagnosed with depression or experience depressive thoughts, but it can be especially frightening for teens.
  • Fortunately, there are helpful resources readily available to teens on their smartphones.
  • Resources include depression discussion guides, crisis text lines, and an app that comes with a depression test and safety plan.
  • These tools are meant to supplement (not replace) medical treatment for those with serious mental health conditions.

*Gretchen Cohen is a staff writer and performs outreach for Jumo Health.*

Approximately 60 percent of adolescents with major depressive episodes did not receive treatment in 2016, out of the 3.1 million adolescents affected by it. The reasoning? It could be that teens don’t recognize depression for what it is or that they are alarmed by the diagnosis. Being diagnosed with depression or living with depressive thoughts might leave one feeling even more confused and frightened. They might think:

  • Why am I like this?
  • Is this my fault?
  • How do I fix this?

Help doesn’t have to be overwhelming or disconcerting—it’s as easy as finding resources at the very tips of our fingers. Being a part of a tech-savvy generation can be helpful even during the most troubling of times. Here’s how teens can utilize this to their best benefit in dealing with depression:

1) Ease into the conversation with a doctor.

According to Jumo Health, a health education resource for children and families, “being prepared and asking questions during your time with the doctor are critical steps in understanding a diagnosis and treatment plan and preparing for the best clinical outcome.” They provide a free digital depression discussion guide to help you understand depression and navigate through the difficult initial steps. You can make a free account on Jumo Connect to download this discussion guide and other materials, like podcasts and videos.

2) Engage in the quintessential art of texting.

While there are considerable hotlines to call in an emotional or suicidal crisis, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), some teens may be uncomfortable speaking on the phone. Fortunately, those who find it easier can text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 to rapidly connect with a trained crisis counselor at any time, day or night.

3) Take advantage of technology.

Mood Tools is a free, self-help app that targets depression. The app is available on both iPhone and Android devices. Mood Tools includes:

  • A “Depression Test” questionnaire that helps to gradually track the severity of your symptoms over time.
  • A “Thought Diary” that analyzes thoughts by identifying negative thinking patterns based on cognitive therapy principles in order to improve your mood.
  • A “Safety Plan” that ties everything together by arranging emergency resources you can implement during a mental health crisis to keep you prepared and safe.

It’s important to note that while these digital resources are great and efficient resources at the palm of our hands, they should not be a substitute for medical treatment for those with serious mental health conditions. They should instead supplement medical treatment and better help a given individual cope with their illness.