Depression – How it Affects Teens Today
Depression – What is it?
Depression is a very common and serious mental disorder that can affect anybody. It can negatively impact an individual’s way of thinking, feeling and acting. Often times it can feel like a heavy weight on someone’s shoulders. About twenty percent of teenagers suffer from depression and only 30 % of them seek treatment. It is said that those who have depression often feel sad or don’t feel anything at all, in other words; they are numb. Depression can create emotions of not only sadness but anger, loneliness and irritability. Many people believe that there needs to be a logical or reasonable explanation as to why someone is depressed, but it can be more complex than that. Depression is not easy to understand, especially if you’re not someone suffering from it. It is only recently that the world has begun to openly discuss mental health in hopes of reducing the stigmatization around it.
Depression in Today’s Society
Mental health in general is a difficult topic to discuss. It can be sensitive to some and threatening to others. Even mentioning any form of mental disorder causes the stigma around it to increase. In today’s society, more people are aware of it and increasingly gain a better understanding of what it really is. There are a number of youth groups, medications and treatment programs that anyone can attend.
Today, adolescents react differently to how they cope with depression. Some easily share their story on how it affects them and others hide their emotions out of shame or embarrassment. Luckily, many people have come to terms that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and that message is constantly being spread through social media and other platforms.
Unfortunately, individuals resort to negative coping mechanisms such as self-harm or self-isolation. If this is ever the case, it is understandable and it’s nothing to be angry about. This coping mechanism is indeed unhealthy, but it is also temporary, even though it doesn’t feel like it is.
Today, teens tend to look for ‘a way out’, meaning, they want to do something about their depression, whether it be seeking treatment or simply finding a distraction from it. Teens today tend to rely on music to help them escape the world around them. Other people enjoy creative writing or journaling. Some enjoy the arts (painting, drawing, sculpting) or even dance in order to loosen any tension in them. These are only some of the healthiest coping mechanisms.
How to Tell if an Adolescent is Depressed
If there is somebody in your life who you love, whether it be a friend, child, relative or acquaintance, and you have a feeling that they are not acting like themselves, they are more distant or they seem too happy, it may lead people to question why that individual is behaving a particular way. If someone is worried about another individual who may be depressed, it is good to be observant of how they act and how they look. Some signs include:
- Withdrawal from friends and/or family
- Having a lack of motivation or energy
- Loss or increase in weight/appetite
- Poor self-esteem
- Sudden acts of anger
- Strong feelings of sadness
- A lack or an increase of sleep
Looking for the Serious Signs
Being depressed can impact the individual in a number of ways. If the individual is showing signs of depression, it is always a good idea to make sure that they are in a safe environment both mentally and physically. Self-harm is a major consequence and is very dangerous, as is substance abuse from antidepressants that are often prescribed. Serious signs to look for in an adolescent in terms of their safety include:
- Wearing long sleeves and pants in hot environments to hide self-injury
- A bottle of antidepressants is being emptied faster than usual
- Suicide threats (direct or indirect)
- Finding sharp objects hidden around the house
Depression is a common mental disorder that affects more teenagers every day. Mental health is slowly becoming more common to discuss, which helps others along their journey to wellness. If we all worked harder to understand each other, maybe mental health would be viewed more as a priority in our world today, rather than stigmatized and seen as a taboo subject.
Warning Signs of Mental Illness, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression
Borchard, Therese J. “Why Are So Many Teens Depressed?” Psych Central, Psych Central.com, 8 July 2018, psychcentral.com/blog/why-are-so-many-teens-depressed/
“Depression In Teens.” Mental Health America, 8 Dec. 2016, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-teens
Greenfieldboyce, Nell. “If You’re Often Angry Or Irritable, You May Be Depressed.” NPR, NPR, 4 Feb. 2019, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/02/04/689747637/if-youre-often-angry-or-irritable-you-may-be-depressed