Dark Secrets: Millions of adults across the country suffer with depressive episodes

Everyone has bad days, but for people battling depression it's more than simply feeling sad and unhappy.  

"It is a true hopelessness with depression because it is an illness it's just very complete and there's no happiness," says Mary Jo Rapini.

Deep, dark feelings of sadness, anger, and loneliness are a heavy burden for anyone to carry, especially teens.

"For a while, I was struggling with depression and anxiety, " says Mia Aldana.

"I was in a really bad place and I just didn't want to interact with a lot of people,” says Krista Werschitz.

Mia and Krista aren't alone. They're  a part of an estimated 3.2 million kids aged 12 to 17 in the United States who have had at least one major depressive episode, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. 

Psychologist Mary Jo Rapini says depressIon can affect their daily lives how they feel, think and act. 

"Anger and hostility those are signs and I think many times we misconstrue those and we go that kids a bully, many bullies are depressed," says Mary Jo.

Sometimes teens are so depressed, they feel life is no longer worth living.

"I went through a lot of depression, anxiety self-harm," says Krista. 

"It was just very emotional and hard to be with myself," says Mia. 

Depression is hard to live with, and not everyone is able to do so. 

Mental Health America reports each year, almost 5,000 young people, ages 15 to 24, kill themselves.

"Suicide is an altered thinking it stems from depression but it's an altered thinking you're no longer seeing things clearly," says Mary Jo. 

There's also signs of anxiety that parents and even teens might not realize.  

"They'll bite their hair, they'll bite their sleeve or a pencil or something and overall, there's a constant sadness," says Mary Jo.

When that happens teens often stay in their rooms all day or even dress differently.

But experts like Mental Health America training specialist, Lauren Pursley, say parents often find it difficult to determine when their child is simply dealing with mood swings. 

"We expect teenagers to occasionally have crying spells that's natural but when a teenager for example is having a crying spell every day before math class,that's affecting her ability to attend school,"says Lauren Pursley.

"Depression is not moody. Depression is not a moodiness, it's a mental illness and so it stays consistent,"says Mary Jo. 

If the behavior remains the same for more than two weeks, it's time to get help and talk to a doctor.  

"When you go to your doctor don't use the word moody because they understand moody as being stressed and label depression is dark," says Mary Jo.

And while knowing what to say to someone isn't always easy, she says the best thing to do is listen.

"Don't try to cheer them up and don't try to tell them you've felt like that before both of those things will shut them down and the truth is you don't feel what they're feeling because we're all different," says Mary Jo.

While depression can affect people at any age, the start of mental health condition soften happens in our youth. 

That's why it's important to pay close attention to the signs and symptoms like fatigue, significant weight loss, excessive sleeping and low self-esteem to name a few.

The conversation of mental health awareness is something experts hope will someday be taught in all schools.

"They need more professional counselors going in looking for mental illness and addressing that not only in the students but the students interaction with the teachers," says Mary Jo.

"By having education not just education accurate education what is true what is false what are myths what are facts about mental health how treatable it is,  can definitely increase mental health outcomes," says Lauren Pursley. 

There are many different forms of depression, but there is still no cure. However, it is treatable. There's psychological therapy, medication, treatment programs and holistic methods such as meditation, exercising and healthy dieting. The key is finding what works best for each individual.

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text 741-741.