I am a seventeen year old girl. I often find that my energy is very low. My favorite thing to do is sleep (and do math but that’s irrelevant). I have this feeling that nothing matters, and it bothers me, but I don’t do anything about it. I care that I don’t care, but not enough, I suppose. And about the low energy, I know that exercise would help, but I don’t do it. So, here is my question: What can I do to make myself feel better, more energized, more DRIVEN, etc.
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Seventeen is a very tender and difficult age to be, especially in this complex world we have today. You are describing very clearly what many young people your age are experiencing: Depression. The question is, what is causing it? There are many possibilities:
1. The low energy and apathetic feelings you describe could be the result of a medical problem that is, as yet, undiagnose. This can range from an underactive thyroid gland to your having mononucleosis. Part of the physical issue also depends upon your nutrition and how well you are or are not eating.
2. Family life often accounts for much of teenage depression. If there is a lot of conflict at home, with parents, between parents and with siblings, that atmosphere of hostility can be a major stressor and the cause of depression. I will include in this the possibility that one or both parents are drinking or coming home drunk. Let’s not leave out the chance that your parents may be divorced.
3. Your involvement in school, relationships with peers and the general school and classroom atmosphere are sources of teen stress. Do you have friends or are you a “loner?” Are you accepted and liked by other girls or are they nasty to you?
4. If you are smoking marijuana that could contribute significantly to your tiredness and lack of zest. I strongly advise you to stop if that is what you are doing. Please understand, there is a huge difference between an occasional couple of puffs versus daily usage at home, in school or anywherre else. It goes without saying that alcohol and other illicit drugs are equally harmful and even dangersous.
5. Of course, there is depression in and of itself. If depression runs in the history of the family then you would be a natural candidate for those down and tired emotions.
What do do?
To anwer your question I suggest the following and please know that I feel worried about you even though we have never met:
1. You need a full medical check up and you need to tell your MD the very same things you wrote to me, here.
2. If your medical exam does not reveal any underlying problems, your MD will probably suggest anti depressant medication for you, if you tell him about your feelings and I hope you do. It could be a very good idea for you.
3. In addition to anti depressant medications, you should enter psychotherapy. At your age, its particularly important to have a counselor you can speak to. If you are more comfortable with a woman, there are plenty of excellent female therapists around.
You will need the support of your parents to get help because insurance and money are involved. Even then, you could speak to your school psychologist or to your guidance counselor as a way of starting to get help if your parents are not cooperative.
Best of Luck to you and do not wait to reach out for help