As any teenager can tell you, the high school and college years aren't all fun and games. In fact, the extreme emotions of our hormone-riddled teenage years, the intense stress of forming our future in our academic pursuits, and the many social pressures and personal problems that plague youth can be extremely rough on our mental health.

For those who are living this reality right now, it's incredibly important to pay close attention to our mental health needs and address them as completely as possible. That means balancing schoolwork with the rest of life's priorities, and it means shaping school schedules and activities into something that seems manageable and even fun.

It also means looking inward and seeking help for mental health issues like depression, which are all too common among young people and can have terrible and tragic consequences. Read on for more information.

Know the signs

There are 3.1 million Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 struggling with depression right now, and you (or your teen) may be among them. To treat depression, we first need to be aware of it; and to know what we're dealing with, we need to know the signs of depression.

Some of those signs can manifest themselves in the world of school. Struggling with schoolwork could be a sign of a lot of things, but depression is certainly prominent among them. Other symptoms of depression include low energy levels, a lack of enjoyment of things we were once passionate about, and even physical aches and pains.

These aches and pains happen because our mental and physical health can be better understood as two dimensions of the same holistic health.

School stress, social factors, and other concerns

If you or a loved one are depressed (or think that it is a possibility), then you should strongly consider turning to a mental health professional for treatment. We'll talk about that more in just a moment, but first we want to mention a few important things about school.

School work can feel overwhelming, especially for those with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Students need to recognize the importance of work-life balance to their mental health and performance in school.

Studies have proven time and time again that a better work-life balance — which includes knowing when not to work — can make you a better worker (or student). Carve out certain times to work and make sure that homework and studying are done in certain places. Then, leave other times and places clear of work entirely. The results can include better sleep, more efficient work, lower stress levels, and an improved mood.

Social situations can be tough on teens, too. It's important to consider the impact of social media, which can be a factor in teen depression. The influence of negative people and the peer pressure that can come with certain groups needs to be monitored, too. That's something that young people should do with a mental health professional — which brings us to our most important section.

Don't go it alone against depression

There is a lot that you can and should do in order to manage your stress and your mental health in school (or to help a loved one do so). In addition to the tips above, great organization and the support of peers can be a big help. But make no mistake: there is no substitute for real mental health treatment.

When dealing with depression, it is absolutely vital to turn to a mental health professional. A psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist can help navigate the treacherous world of teenage depression, and can explain other treatment options. Going to rehab for teenage depression is a powerful option that combines intensive therapy with a change in scenery and the time to focus entirely on mental health.

Whatever treatment option ends up being right for your situation, it is key to reach a decision with the help of a mental health expert. Beating depression is something that we do together, never by ourselves.

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