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Mental Health Difficulties


We all go through ups and downs in our mood. Sadness can be a normal reaction to our everyday and life struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness.

Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don’t feel sad at all—they may feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic, or men in particular may even feel angry, aggressive, and restless. Depression can look different for lots of people and cause them to act in ways that are not normal for them.

Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and do activities that you used to enjoy. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.

Signs of Depression

Over 25% of youth have symptoms of at least mild depression

  • prolonged feelings of sadness
  • disinterest in usual activities
  • changes in sleeping and eating habits
  • restlessness
  • lack of energy
  • anxiety
  • anger
  • increased drug and alcohol use
  • thoughts about death and suicide
  • indifference about the future

What If I’m Depressed?

31.7% of Alaska Native youth reported feeling so sad or hopeless everyday for 2 weeks that they stopped doing some of their usual activities

SEEK HELP. Turn to a trusted, responsible adult (parent, teacher, coach, healthcare provider, relative) or friend. Let someone know how you’re feeling!

Exercise and eat well. If your body is taken care of, you can focus more on taking care of your mind.

Express your feelings creatively. Journaling, painting, collaging, singing, songwriting, and poetry are great ways to release negative energy and can be kept as private as you choose.

See a mental health specialist. They’ll have resources, answers, and advice to help you. Remember, it’s their job to listen and help. Everyone needs support sometimes.

Get Help

For general resources about relationships, sex, wellness and more, please do a search on the Get Answers page.

Are you in immediate danger?

Call 911 or your local police. If not in an immediate threat, please view resources on the Get Care page.