Depression among teenagers needs to be understood, not dismissed

Depression among teenagers needs to be understood, not dismissed

Depression can be a lot harder to understand than, say, high cholesterol. One major source of confusion is the difference between having depression and just feeling depressed. Almost everyone feels down from time to time; a bad grade at school, losing a job, having an argument, even a rainy day can bring feelings of sadness. Sometimes there is no trigger at all; it just pops up out of the blue. When circumstances change, the sad feelings disappear. Clinical depression is different. It is a mental illness that will not go away just because you feel like doing away with it.
A study conducted this spring examined 1.6 million Tumblr blogs and of those, 200,000 contained pictures, videos, and text posts of teenagers hurting themselves due to depression. Is it because we now have the technology to express an ever-present feeling or is it something else? Is it just a coincidence that the school system and standardised tests are getting harder and college acceptance rates are going down? The pressures to be stereotypical are everywhere. Is it possible that we, and this society, is the thing responsible for the growing disease that is capable of killing and we don’t talk about it much because it is often deemed as a phase or effect of hormones, or being over-emotional.
Conversations regarding mental illness result in words being thrown around that are nearly irrelevant. Depression is not the emotion of sadness; it is a state of being. In the first 100 days of Covid lockdown, 66 school-going children died by suicide in Kerala alone. One in four teenagers in India suffers from depression and anxiety. Every single hour a student attempts suicide. In the year 2018 alone, 10,419 students died by suicide. All these statistics point to just one thing: that we as a country need to talk about teenage depression. It is something which has long been overlooked in our country because we do not want to talk about mental illness.
More than half of our country’s population is under the age of 25. Consider the impact of Covid-19 and imagine how would be the situation for teenagers right now. Despite all of this we tend to see teenagers as a generation that is always glued to their phones 24 hours. We talk of addiction to social media and instant social validation, etc, but we forget that teenage in itself is a very difficult phase where the body and mind is going through hundreds of changes. With so many thoughts racing in the mind, a lot of confusion or chaos in ensues in life. If teenagers are going through a rough patch, they do give out clear signals to their parents: there is a marked change in their behaviour. This actually might be a good time to approach parents and tell them about what you’re facing. I know stress levels are very high among everyone. Be it job, career, finances, relationships, uncertainty is everywhere, but the only way to get out of this is by realising that we’re not alone in this, and that by talking to friends, parents or siblings or even calling on the helpline number can and will help.
I think parents also need to be more receptive when their children talk to them about the issues they’re facing. Talking to them about relationships and life will help them in facing the stress and the emotional turmoil which comes with it. Don’t shy away from seeking professional help, because if we don’t address the problem of depression, it might just spiral out of control. We have seen how suicides are increasing day by day in Kashmir; it is because of the negativity that is taking root in young minds. They think that they have not achieved anything. Even after trying a lot to do better, when they fail, they start feeling that something is missing in them. This negative sense has to be overcome by a positive approach. There are many around you who love you, a lot. There are better things waiting for you. Just have patience and belief.
“The real fear of depression is not of dying; it of living with yourself forever.”

—asiftutor70@gmail.com

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