I am only 14 and have read alot of information on depression. I dont know if I am depressed or just going threw stress as a normal teenager. I have tried reading the symptoms but I am not sure. I am a popular student and do have friends but at least 3 times a week I cry myself to sleep. I am not usually sure why I just feel I dont fit in. I have never been abused and I have a wonderful boyfriend but I cant seem to stay happy. About 7 months ago I talked to a friend about it and she helped me stear clear of suicide. I have never told anyone but her of my sadness and am afriad I am just over reacting. Am I?

Dear Ms. C Good on you for writing, and wondering, and asking for some help.  You wrote to a bipolar website so you may have some hunches.  Time to get them checked out.  I wonder if you'd be comfortable letting your parents know what you're experiencing?   Most would want to know, and want to help, but I'll grant you, not all.  They might be able to help you find a good child/adolescent psychiatrist in your area -- these are the specialists that have the most options for treating your symptoms.  If that's not a good option, try asking the school nurse for some help finding such a specialist.  If your school doesn't have a nurse, try calling your (or your family's) primary care doctor, and ask her/him or even their nurse for some help: all you'd have to say is the sentence or two you wrote above and that you want some help with it. 

Now you may have figured out that there's possibly a "bipolar" angle to your symptoms, and you might be right, though I wouldn't start by assuming that.  If there's some truth to that point of view, just be aware that sometimes mental health professionals are a little slow figuring that angle out; they can know less than you sometimes, in a way.  So you should be vocal about why it occurred to you to think about "bipolar disorder", and what you've learned.  Good luck with that search.  There's a lot of help out there, I hope you'll be surprised to find.

Dr. Phelps

Published April, 2001