Depression and the Young
‘Depression- Disabling a Whole New Generation’
By Tony DeLorger © 2010
My Father experienced intense depressive episodes throughout his life and remained undiagnosed. His ability to maintain relationships, his employment and to deal with the daily stresses of life greatly impaired. Outsiders would see his behaviour as childish, spoilt and as a man not willing to take responsibility.
Then, depression was very much misunderstood and with men, this response to life’s stresses regarded as weakness and not manly. That is why men didn’t seek help for these kinds of mental health issues. Unfortunately this stigma still exists today, to some degree.
For whatever reason, depression is on the increase and even worse, affecting our youth more than ever before. With escalating statistics of youth suicide and social maladjustment, we as a society must address this epidemic, one that could take apart the fabric of our future.
This insidious disorder decreases the ability to make informed decisions, instead impeding thoughts with an avalanche of negative experiences, fears and the feelings of unresolved issues that can loom in one’s subconscious. A propensity to depression can be hereditary, but many cases are triggered by some crises of stress or anxiety, a loved one’s passing or serious illness. The teenage years can be difficult enough but with the pressures of modern life, many of our youth become overwhelmed. Add to that the doom and gloom portrayed every night on the news and we end up with kids lost in a world of negativity.
Thankfully we as a society are now aware of the problem and there are many organisations like ‘Beyondblue’ in Australia that offer resources and services to help those in crisis. But apart from that it comes down to parents to recognise the symptoms and seek professional help to assist their children to deal with the negative feelings that depression brings to the surface. It is often difficult to sort out what is typical teenage angst and what is a sign of something more sinister. Mood swings are common in the teenage years, with testing boundaries, falling desperately in love and perhaps experimenting with alcohol or drugs. But when the schoolwork begins to slide, anger dominates, there is little sleeping and a general lethargy and unwillingness to engage in normal life, it is time to search for professional help.
We can love and support our kids in most respects, but sometimes the problem is beyond our ability. We often respond in counterproductive ways to force our teenagers to work, keep their room tidy, bathe, and clean their teeth and the like. But often these are symptoms of deeper issues: poor self-image, feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and isolation.
It is up to us as parents to keep an eye out for these behaviours and quickly discover the source, council them or seek professional help if necessary. It’s a tough world out there and our kids need their parents more than ever.
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