I’m stressed. I feel tired all the time. I can’t seem to do my everyday tasks with ease. It takes a lot to talk to my family and friends. This is just the pilot to what goes on in the mind of a depressed teenager. But how often have we heard about young adolescents struggling with this mental condition? Hardly enough, right? Is it because there are not a lot of teens suffering from it or is it because we – as a society are still in a state of denial about such mental health issues? Let’s take a deeper look at what exactly depression in adolescents looks like and what we as individuals can do to be a strong support system for them.
As indicated by the World Health Organization (WHO), “Sadness is unique in relation to regular mindset variances and fleeting enthusiastic reactions to challenges in day-to-day existence. Particularly when durable and with moderate or extreme power, melancholy might turn into a genuine medical issue. It can make the influenced individual endure incredibly and work inadequately grinding away, at school and in the family”. Nowadays, the prevalence of depression in adolescents is all the more on the increasing side of the graph. Contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t necessarily have to appear in the form of prolonged sadness but it could also be seen as irritability, boredom or inability to perform day-to-day tasks. While depression can be a symptom of some other underlying mental illness, depression in itself risks the onset of a wide-ranging spectrum of maladjusted behavioural patterns like anxiety, fear of engaging in social situations, childhood trauma, conflict in relationships, body image issues, use of alcohol or drugs or even having a parent with a history of depression.
Depression manifests itself differently in each individual and hence there cannot be a set of red flags termed ‘common’ to all. The symptoms may vary from person to person, but typically these include feelings of worthlessness, loss of interest in things they used to enjoy, withdrawal from friends and family, loss of appetite or increased appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, inability to concentrate, etc. Therefore, a lot of times teenagers seem to ignore the symptoms or sometimes just lack awareness of it. Even parents or adults tend to term such a mental health condition as merely ‘just a phase during adolescence’ or coin the word ‘being overly emotional’ to a teenager. Here’s when the adolescents feel that there’s no outright support for them and maybe even try to engage in acts of self-harm or even take extreme steps like suicide in the later stage.
Also Read: Depression is curable if diagnosed early
The profound impact of undiagnosed depression on a teenager is uncanny. Although there are a lot of different diagnosis methods like psychotherapies and a whole lot of medications, it is important for the caregivers of such teenagers to accept the very first fact that a mental health issue can arise irrespective of the individual’s age and gender. Secondly, it is as important as any other physical ailment, and can’t be just ignored. Once this gap is filled, adolescents will have a much safer environment to open up freely and talk about their feelings and emotions to their loved ones. Gone are the days when telling someone that ‘Life is unfair but it’s all up to you, how you change it into a happy one’ is a piece of valid advice for someone who is fighting to survive every day. It requires a lot of conscious effort from the caregiver as well as friends and academic institutions to help them make baby steps to cure themselves.
Moreover, once the whole situation is acknowledged and accepted, it makes it easier to consult a trained mental health care professional like a psychologist, psychiatrist or counsellor. There are a lot of affordable mental health care services which can be found through the various helplines. Furthermore, once a diagnosis is made, the adolescent and his/her caregiver can learn more about their condition, follow the treatment plan and maintain a schedule that helps in fast and better recovery. Finally, the bottom line is to create a healthy environment for adolescents suffering from depression so that it helps them to grow back stronger. And, also to all the warriors fighting out such a difficult condition, please do remember that we understand how hard it is so, take your time, reach out for help and bounce back strongly.