Depression In Teenagers And Young Adults. (1)
Mental health disorders such as DEPRESSION will be one major health issue for decades to come if appropriate interventions for prevention, management, and treatment are continually swept under the carpet.
As a mother, I understand the pain that parents undergo when they realize the struggle their children pass through to adequately function in their respective roles as well as being diagnosed with clinical depression.
The truth is, statistics derived as regards depression of teenagers and young adults are so minimal compared to how deeply rooted it is. This can be attributed to societal acceptance of the symptoms as the norm for that particular age group hence victims become voiceless.
In our part of society, Mental health issues are misunderstood, downplayed, and stigmatized. We need to understand that keeping physically healthy is as important as staying mentally healthy. They are both interrelated, a deficit in one affects the other.
Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder are all characterized by moods or loss of interest causing significant impairment in daily life ranging from depressive lows and manic highs. Research suggests that these factors may cause changes in brain function. This explains the sudden loss of a close relative by suicide or loss of family members initiated by loved ones in an incomprehensible manner. These episodic events most often than not are beyond their control due to the impairment of their brains.
As parents, when this discovery is made, we begin to question our parenting skills. The fact is not all cases of mental health issues can be attributed to parental failure. “THINGS JUST HAPPEN”. The earlier parents brace up and enlighten themselves on mental health rather than dwell on the ‘How’, ‘When’ and ‘Where’ the better. This enables them to understand the process as well as provide the necessary care and support for these children.
According to statistics, Suicide is the second most common cause of death among young people between 15 and 24 globally. The Increase in suicidal rate in most cases stems out of Depression over time and not necessarily out of a current event.
Life can be confusing for young people today and the circumstances of growing up were different 50 years ago than they are now which probably might be due to changes in the way they live now which affects their growth process. As parents, we also fail to realize that our coping mechanisms are completely unique regardless of heredity. In essence, that child might not have the same coping mechanisms you had in your own time.
Surveys also suggest that more teenagers and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. There was a recent case of a 13-year-old boy who died of suicide somewhere in Ogun state after repeatedly telling the mum he was not willing to stay with his uncle again but the mum insisted and the sad occurrence happened. The boy might have been traumatized over the years but when his voice was silenced, he felt suicide was his escape route.
The billion-dollar question is, “What are the reasons behind depression in teenagers and young adults”?
There are different ranges of stressors stemming from individual traits, social and environmental factors that can impact them negatively. In one of my previous write-ups, I mentioned the hormone that is released as a result of stress which is Cortisol. It defies age, gender, or status and gets elevated due to consistent stress resulting in emotional and psychological distress as a result of impairment in the brain chemistry.
Despite opportunities in tertiary institutions, it is also associated with risks to health and well being resulting in many students struggling to cope with additional demand and stress translating to academic stress especially when parents insist on a particular choice of course rather than provide guidance.
Pressures associated with increased workloads in school especially for courses of study they are struggling with.
Traumatic experiences in school and at home that they might not be willing to share yet draining them.
Leaving home to an entirely new environment, new culture might take a toll on a child especially if he/she doesn't like it, being bullied, or finding it difficult in communicating and making new friends. In as much as teenagers and young adults yell for their freedom, they can be vulnerable as well.
Low self-esteem could be another trigger for Depression. This occurs when parents, loved ones, and others perception is always in the negative. This erodes the confidence of the teenager or young adult resulting in hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness.
Medical illness or disabilities in all forms inclusive of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) might be a contributory factor to the onset of depression in teenagers and young adults. The feeling of inferiority complex, and lack of acceptance by peers and others around them.
Cognitive and emotional Immaturity, Most times as parents, we tend to put the cart before the horse. This shift most often than not impacts negatively on their mental health because they might not be matured enough to handle the expected task or role hence the struggle begins and they become drained and frustrated.
Family disruption could be a result of bereavement, divorce, isolation, (especially this Covid-19 period when they are miles away), loneliness, conflict in the home, exposure to and witness of violence, emotional or sexual abuse.
Injustice and discrimination. This might occur in public settings, such as schools, workplaces due to gender, race, religion, status, etc. It is also evident at home when parents consciously or unconsciously display favoritism amongst children.
Learned patterns of negative thinking, having a family member who died by suicide, heredity, hormonal imbalance, male stereotypes, intimate relationship breakups, or recent stressful events could be triggers for the onset of depression
All these high levels of stressors are associated with a decline in academic performance and engagement which can cause changes in thinking patterns, coping abilities and increase the risk of depression.
It has been identified that teenagers and young adults transitioning from high schools to universities are population groups at increased risk of poor mental health and disengagement hence the need for parents to dig deep into mental health awareness. (Eisenberg, Gollust, Golberstein, & Hefner 2007)
The second part of this topic which is my next write-up will be on Warning Signs of Depression and Coping Mechanisms for Teenagers And Young Adults.
Please feel free to share if you find it informative, together we can impact lives.
Credit: Image. “Beneath The Surface” campaign poster. Cornell university mental health campaign.