Genetic predisposition; personal tragedy; even just the stress of daily life. All real and universal conditions that we readily accept in ourselves and our peers without fear of stigma. Yet, when any combination of these factors leads to depression, society asks that we keep it to ourselves. To say nothing. Well, not anymore. Depression is real, with the exception of teenagers, who are just sort of inherently like that. And it’s time to start talking about it.

Last year, millions of Americans with depression suffered in silence, although it must be noted that many of them were sullen teens, who were just being difficult. It is a silent specter that looms over us, our coworkers, our friends, even our parents. Although probably not over our own sons or daughters, who just seem to be going through this phase right now where every little thing is the end of the world—but it affects many others whose problems are real. They need to know they’re not alone.

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It shouldn’t take the death of a beloved public figure to start this conversation, and any one life lost to this illness is one too many. Although you’d be forgiven for taking it with a grain of salt when your 16-year-old drama queen or king threatens to off themselves for the umpteenth time. Maybe they’d feel better if they got outside and soaked up a little sunshine every once in a while and even tried to find a summer job. But when it comes to real depression, we need to act now.

Maybe they’d feel better if they got outside and soaked up a little sunshine every once in a while…

It starts with you. Pay attention to your friends and loved ones. Notice changes and know the signs, and above all, reach out to the people around you. Every day that we let them struggle alone is a day they slip further away, and sometimes, all you need is someone to talk to you.

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Unless you’re an adolescent. There’s absolutely no reasoning with them.