In the course of writing I have often touched on some of the root causes of depression (bullying, abuse, isolation, etc.) but never really looked at the animal itself. For my part, I probably suffered acute depression in my early teens but it was simply regarded as 'that difficult phase all boys go through'. The only known cure my father knew for my 'teen angst' was a kick up the arse (it actually worked quite well, but that's just me). Thankfully my teens didn't appear to suffer from similar depression although I sometimes I wished they could just be a little less happy (joke.... sort of).
To those ends my thoughts on depression may not be the same as others, so instead of ramming my personal beliefs down your throats, I thought I would seek 'professional' help. What I found when searching the internet disturbed me a little. The extracts below are from an article in a 'teen advice' section of a site purportedly run by professionals.
I've added some of my thoughts.
Have you been feeling tired, lazy, lonely and sad? Does staying in bed all day seem preferable to going out into the world? Do the things that once made you smile now just seem to annoy you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, and these symptoms have been occurring consistently for a few weeks, then you might be depressed [no shit Sherlock]. Depression is no laughing matter (pardon the bad pun) [forgiven], so make sure you get the help you deserve by visiting your GP immediately.
The first question could have been termed 'Are you a teen?'. The second question could have been termed 'Are you a teen?'. The third question could have been termed 'Are you a teen?'. Now I'm not saying don't go see a GP because 'Circumstances alters cases' but as I remember it I suffered many of these symptoms that could persist for many weeks. The difference is I, like many others, were expected to deal with what was deemed a part of growing up.
What Is Depression?
A lot of people say they are depressed if they've received some bad news, had a bad day, or are feeling so tired that they can't seem to get started. While none of these things are fun, they are not clinical depression either. Clinical depression can be described as a mood so low, and so consistent, that it interferes with your daily life. Doing poorly on a test or having a bad day at work / college is not very nice but it's not depression.
What Are Common Symptoms of Depression?
There are many common symptoms of depression, though those suffering from depression may not exhibit them all. These symptoms include:
- Unsettled or lack of sleep.
- An overwhelming feeling of tiredness.
- An increase in "sleeping in" or afternoon naps.
- Difficulty concentrating throughout the day.
- Loss of interest in favourite or previously entertaining activities.
- Avoidance of classes, clubs, sports teams or social events.
- Decrease in school / college work and performance.
- Constant anxiety or frustration.
- Feeling unable to become motivated or enthusiastic about anything.
- Loss of, or excessive increase in, appetite.
- Rapid weight loss or gain.
- Inability to picture the future.
- General loss of hope or feeling like giving up.
- Little effort put into personal hygiene or appearance.
- Believing that life isn't worth living or having suicidal thoughts.
How is Clinical Depression Diagnosed?
Visiting your GP is the first step towards diagnosing and alleviating depression. During your appointment you will need to be honest with your GP about your behaviour and emotions, and he / she will most likely ask you questions about how you are feeling, your life and any major events that have occurred recently. Your GP may suggest a course of counselling or therapy and refer you to a psychologist or other specialist. [hmm]
How is Depression Treated?
The good news about depression is that there are many options for treatment and all of them have good results. Depending on your circumstances, your doctor may recommend:-
- A prescription for anti-depressant tablets (often Prozac) to treat your symptoms. [STOP DRUGGING KIDS FFS!]
- Counselling to treat any underlying issues.
- Cognitive behaviour therapy, or "talk therapy" that can help you change the way you think and react to situations.
- More exercise and a better diet to give you a firm foundation for health.
- Holistic therapies such as massage or aromatherapy for a natural boost.
Depression is a serious condition that is on the rise among teenagers internationally. Sometimes teenagers are embarrassed about depression and avoid their feelings rather than seek the help that they deserve. If you think that you may be depressed, don't be afraid to confront your feelings head on so that you can get treatment and move on. Don't let depression run, or ruin, your life.
As stated I'm not a doctor, psychologist, therapist, whatever, and cannot dissuade people from visiting a GP because I simply do not know the circumstances. Before you do run out and see your GP to get a course zombie inducing drugs, try the good old fashioned remedy first.
'Stop wallowing in self-pity and grow a pair' is what my dad would have told me and I suspect it would have been my initial reaction to my kids if they had warranted it. I can't say it's right for all, but it worked for me. Depression is just a state of mind, albeit a very difficult one to deal with sometimes. I still get depressed occasionally but that is just a by-product of modern life. Without the lows you cannot fully appreciate the highs. I generally deal with it by becoming angry with myself for allowing it to happen. It passes quickly.
Seriously guys genuine clinical depression is not funny so if you have any doubts it is better to be safe than sorry and seek help. I lost a friend to suicide and failed to see the signs. They were there in hindsight but it was of course too late then. Don't you make the same mistake.
A friendly smile can change a life forever, think about that!