Among the many mental health issues that may be experienced in life, depression is among the most prevalent and fatal. According to The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, depression is the cause of over ⅔ of the 30,000 reported suicides in the United States each year. Although the age of onset for depression varies, as many as 1 in 33 children and 1 in 8 adolescents have clinical depression.
Whether the depression is mild or chronic, it is important that one seeks help immediately following diagnosis. Even while showing early warning signs, it is important to recognize them and avoid isolation. If the symptoms go unrecognized by the patient or by people surrounding them, the symptoms may worsen and overall deteriorate the individual’s mental health, physical health, and relationships.
During depression, thoughts are distorted. Patients have a negative outlook on life and believe that the world is cruel and that no one wants to help them, leading to isolation and hopelessness. Those feelings then cause the individual to keep everything inside of them and swallow up the sadness, causing symptoms to worsen if untreated. On a personal account, depression developed through overthinking, loneliness, and isolation. It occurred after a dreadful experience that I did not tell anybody about. The minute the experience began, self-deprecating thoughts swarmed in my head for weeks, and that had never happened to me before. But even while it was detected, I did not do anything to stop it. Now, that’s called self-destruction.
For parents, I would strongly advise them to ensure that their kids know, early on, that they are open to conversation and that if kids ever experience tough events, they can tell the parent. Adolescents and children may experience adversity too intense to be handled alone, so it is important that parents provide guidance and support. This does not call for a dependent relationship on the parent: this calls for the parent to talk through the event with the child, teach them proper coping skills, and eventually let the child use them on their own. The kid will eventually “spread their wings” and use those skills, but only after they are taught. If parents notice persistent warning signs of depression, or any disorder for a matter of fact, in an adolescent, do not instantly mistaken it for a “typical teenager attitude” or impetuously assume that the teenager is simply moody. Adolescents are moody by nature, but persistent symptoms should not be dismissed; it may be a sign of something worse. The number of times I have heard of depressive symptoms being mistaken for “moodiness” or the “onset of puberty” cannot be expressed in numbers. Parents, teachers, siblings, or anyone surrounding those you care about should always be on the lookout because there are those who suffer in silence or conceal their sadness in masks.
I find that those who have experienced depression are better at understanding, empathizing, helping, and being alert for symptoms in others in order to ensure that people do not go through what they went through, or experience a relapse. Regardless of its intensity (mild or severe), depression fundamentally affects mood: that in turn affects academic performance, motivation, relationships with others who are unaware of the depression, work life, and willingness to live. Now, whether you have experienced it or not, be on the lookout, offer support, and reach out to those who are suffering: they may feel too alone or hopeless to talk to others themselves.