Breaking the Myth About Depression ( Part II)
Being a teenager can be tough. Amidst parental and peer pressure, maintaining an active online as well as offline social life, the pressures that come with studies and building a career, an average teen experiences stress and irritation- and it’s perfectly normal. But when this sadness or irritability becomes more intense and persistent, one may be suffering from depression.
Depression in teens is not at all uncommon- one in four children in the age group of 13-15 years in India suffer from depression. India has the highest suicide rate among 10 South-East Asian countries and suicide is the second highest cause of death among people of age group 15-29 years in the region.
Then why is depression among teens not taken seriously enough?
Depression is often seen as a non-serious threat in the Indian society. It is treated as a taboo topic and the negative culture surrounding it is often the reason why teens in India feel ashamed or scared to ask for help. There is also a lot of misinformation about depression and parents often ignore signs as well as pleas for help from their growing kids.
But depression isn’t something to hide or stay silent about and it must be given as much importance as any physical illness is given.
Here is a list of things that teens suffering from depression usually have to hear when they ask for help- let’s break the myths these words carry.
#1 “I thought you were stronger than this”
Depression is not a lack of willpower. It has nothing to do with strength of character or mind. It is a serious health issue and like all serious health problems, it has physical symptoms. Depression can cause more than just unhappiness, it can cause obesity, stroke, heart disease, and sleep disorders. It is natural for parents to want to advice their children in times of need but the loved ones of a depressed teenager must suspend thoughts like these because a depressed teenager needs acceptance much more than judgments.
#2 “You don’t look depressed”
It might be of popular opinion that a depressed person should always look sad on the outside but how a person appears might not always reflect their true state of mind. Depression has many physical symptoms- like too much or too little sleep or changes in appetite, but there are numerous invisible symptoms as well, like an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness or suicidal thoughts, which do not always reflect on how somebody may appear. These invisible signs are only exposed when one begins to open up verbally.
#3 “It’s all in your mind”
Depression is a real and serious medical condition. It’s not any different than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. It’s serious and can be deadly. Telling a child that depression is just in their “mind” might make them feel that they are weak and do not have sufficient strength to deal with their thoughts. This advice is counter productive as people with depression often cannot control their thoughts and feelings and need professional help for guidance.
#4 ” Don’t think about it much”
No one chooses to get depressed. One cannot simple ignore depression. You can’t just ‘snap out of it’. Depression doesn’t go away on its own. Negative thoughts are powerful, and it takes effort and time to turn them around. Left untreated, depression will deepen and can cause suicidal thoughts.
#5 “Try to be positive”
Depression is not ordinary sadness, disappointment, or grief, although those emotions may blend with the symptoms of depression in the days and weeks surrounding a negative event. A child who may show signs of depression cannot dispel their mental health problems by willing their minds to “be positive.”
…Continued in next post.