I see her watching me from afar, yet again. Jana doesn’t know what to do anymore. I know I’ve been difficult, distancing myself from her and the rest of my friends. I don’t know how to explain this feeling though – and I can’t seem to shake it off. It’s like there’s this hopeless feeling that’s preying on my conscience, weighing down my heart and body. I feel moody and upset, my decent school marks are withering away and I just don’t want to eat anymore, which is totally unlike me. I know it worries Jana and she always has my back, but this time we both can’t figure it out. . .
Clinical depression or “unipolar disorder,” often referred to simply as depression, disregards any boundaries. It affects people from all walks of life – the wealthy and the poor, men and women, different ethnic groups. It’s not an uncommon occurrence in youth either; put into numbers, healthlinkbc.ca estimates that as many as two out of 100 young children and eight out of 100 teens have serious depression. Unfortunately, most adolescence don’t get the treatment they need, as experts suggest it’s much harder to distinguish between depression and normal moodiness in teens than it is in adults. Understanding what depression is and how it manifests itself in teens are essential to a successful battle with this disease.
Depression is not just having the “blues” or a bad day; it’s a serious mood disorder that can affect a person’s mental and physical well-being with sometimes fatal results. Feeling down every now and then is normal, but if you’re grappling with intense feelings of severe despair for weeks or months to the point that it’s interfering with your daily life, it’s most likely depression.
This mood disorder can overtake almost every aspect of a person’s life, from school and work to relationships, because it can change the way someone feels, thinks and acts. For example, a teen who is suffering from depression might become lethargic due to sleeping and eating problems, or they “might overreact and have sudden outbursts of anger or tears over fairly small incidents,” says the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
But why does this happen? What triggers depression to occur?
The exact cause is still unknown, but it appears a combination of factors can make a person more susceptible to depression. The CMHA cites an imbalance in brain chemicals, physical illness, certain medications, stress, hormones and family history as possible causes. In teens especially, mounting school, social and family pressures can be enough to push an individual over the edge. What’s more, one episode of major depression is a likely precursor for future episodes. According to The Public Health Agency of Canada’s website, more than 50 per cent of individuals who have an episode of major depression experience a recurrence, which makes recognizing the early signs of depression especially important.
As mentioned, changes in feelings, thinking and behaviour are likely indicators of depression. The CMHA points to a loss of interest in activities, withdrawal from social situations, ongoing negative emotions, changes in appetite, resulting in drastic weight loss or gain, sluggishness and thoughts of suicide as symptoms of clinical depression. If these warning signals accumulate, thoughts of the sufferer may reflect hopeless regression and helplessness – soon life becomes too big of a problem to solve.
Yet, whether mild or severe, depression is treatable. Talking does wonders. It can be challenging at first, but The Public Health Agency of Canada, the CMHA and healthlinkbc.ca all recommend developing a support network by talking to friends and family, school counsellors and a professional psychiatrist or psychologist. Working to maintain a healthy fitness regime and diet is helpful as well. Some experts suggest that teens may also benefit more from cognitive-behavioural therapy, which tries to decrease and ultimately replace the negative thoughts that make depressed teens feel deplorable. Above all else, never feel, or make someone else feel, ashamed about depression. Instead, educate your peers about the facts.
Depression is one of life’s many challenges, but no one needs to suffer through it alone. And while the probability that life will be an absolute breeze is likely naught, do take to heart: rough periods have been overcome before, and can certainly be done again. While the battle with depression may be a difficult one, you can regain control over your life once again.Login or register to post comments. All comments have to go through a queue for approval to keep the nasty stuff out, but we'll post yours as soon as we can.