How can I explain bad grades due to depression?

Hey y'all, my freshman and sophomore years of high school were tough for me. I lost motivation and struggled with personal issues and my grades suffered with my GPA ending up 3.47 unweighed.

I realize that it's not "bad" but I'm interested in selective schools and naturally that's far lower than their averages. I've gotten near straight As since in the most difficult classes at my school but my GPA is still relatively low at 3.6 unweighted.

Is there any way I can inform them that I went through a rough patch without it being a red flag for universities? I'm aware of the 'additional information' section in commonapp but I'm not sure where else I can explain. Thanks!

This happens to many students, and there are several ways you can go about informing schools about the situation. When your guidance counselor writes a recommendation letter for you, ask him or her to explain the reasons for your lower grades earlier in high school. You can also talk to your other teacher recommenders about emphasizing the great strides you've made in improving your grades over the past year. Since this had such a significant affect on your performance in the first two years of high school, you might even consider writing your college essay about what happened and how you overcame the challenges presented by these personal issues. Colleges want to admit students who are resilient and can ultimately succeed despite numerous setbacks. This article on how to apply to college with a low GPA has additional advice on how to manage your situation effectively.