Depression: A Habit Out of Choice Youth on Health

Depression: A Habit Out of Choice  Youth on Health

Depression: A Habit Out of Choice Youth on Health

Depression: A Habit Out of Choice

3 Idiots, an Indian movie taking the world by storm with its record breaking sales, was a fresh concept brought to the screen, staying far away from formula flicks that flood Bollywood. The movie brings to light many issues plaguing young students today. Out of all those little incidents depicted, one was particularly poignant. It depicted a boy who commits suicide because he couldn’t handle the pressures of the education system.. The thought of himself being a failure and an embarrassment to his family put him into depression which forced him to take the drastic step of suicide. Although this was an on-screen portrayal, it isn’t far from the truth that many modern youngsters are battling – it is the psychological problem of depression.

Depression is defined as a state of low mood and aversion towards activity. It is among the most commonly diagnosed mental problems or disorders. Medically, the simplest explanation for depression is the imbalance of the neurotransmitters Serotonin and Dopamine in the brain. There are of course many types of depression; sometimes as a symptom to an actual physiological condition like certain pathological conditions, deficiencies, hormonal imbalances etc. But the most common type of depression seen in teenagers is the psychological variety.

Peer pressure, pressure from parents, pressure from school and low self esteem are the leading causes of psychological depression in teenagers. The symptoms include permanent bad mood, feelings of hopelessness, pessimistic behaviour, insomnia, disturbed sleep and erratic eating habits, withdrawal from society, concentration problems, impaired decision making, rude and erratic behaviour and the worst of all, contemplation or attempt to commit suicide.

Normal happy teenagers sometimes become unrecognizable if they undergo depression due to some trauma. If the condition is not recognized and treated it could become a cause for concern. A person who becomes chronically depressed will be unfit to function within the society. His behaviour may probably incite rebuke and criticism from people who don’t know him, further worsening his condition. Being depressed affects people physically and mentally, thus harming their future every step of the way.

Adolescents are more vulnerable to external influences shaping their mindset than any other age group. This age is a weird period of life where a child’s mind starts maturing into an adult one, thus changing one’s perception of the world around them. Today, an adolescent is exposed to the ‘real’ world at a very early age. His or her entire ideology is based on what is portrayed in the print and electronic media. In such cases, low self esteem can develop at the drop of the hat.

For example, young girls are influenced by celebrities who set impossible standards of beauty and perfection. These girls fail to realize that the beauty of celebrities is mainly due to loads of cosmetics, plastic surgeries and Adobe Photoshop! Modern life is a dangerous mix of opportunities and stress. The intense competition, the ‘each-man-for-his-own’ strategy and the over-ambitious attitude of young people in the age group of 22-30 creates extreme stress in the minds of these people. Trying to balance the stress of work along with idealistic defeat is a leading cause of depression among young professionals.

The above was just one example of how the seeds of depression are sown in the minds of youngsters. The actual scenario consists of a whole lot more reasons. In today’s world, the competition in any field is so high, be it studies and marks, music or sports that the pressure on a child to perform is tremendous. Some children are lucky to have a supportive family unit that uses positive motivation to encourage them. But in many cases, the parents themselves subject their children to tremendous mental stress by setting impossible targets for them, admonishing and punishing them for failure and making them believe that they are failures in life and an embarrassment to the family.

Peer pressure is another important cause of depression in younger teens. The urge to fit in and be popular causes teenagers to compromise on themselves and their ideals. Further stress is added by older kids who make them ‘prove themselves’ by introducing them to smoking, stealing and other bad habits. The worst part is the bullying that follows if the younger kids fail to comply with the olders kids.

This phenomenon is probably worse among girls who do not use direct methods of bullying but resort to cattiness, making mean remarks and jokes and spreading rumours which have a direct impact on the mind of 13 or 14 year olds. Constant reminders of one’s flaws like their skin, looks, social status among others are the main reasons why teenagers have such low self esteem and this manifests itself as withdrawal from society, hesitation about making friends or voicing one’s opinion and a general change in personality.

Finally, it’s in vogue today to be in a relationship when you’re 13. Of course, one can’t pass judgment about love and people, because a number of cases exist where people get together when they are very young and their love lasts forever. But in general, teenage romances end in heartache or betrayal. People, lost in the adrenaline rush of youth, make decisions that they regret. But these bitter memories remain reinforced in the youngster’s head, traumatizing them and making them believe that their life is ruined, which pushes them into depression.

Modern television, especially the hugely popular television series like Gossip Girl, 90210 and even Hannah Montana glorify a reckless and promiscuous sort of lifestyle as glamorous or exciting. More often than not, these shows end up directly influencing young people who unconsciously emulate their TV idols. But, unlike TV shows, life doesn’t give everybody second chances and these youngsters might end up making mistakes that they would regret later on. Since memories can’t be rubbed out like pencil marks, they remain and haunt them, again leading to depression.

Most people undergo depression for a temporary or short period in their lives after a traumatic episode and eventually get over it. But if depression lasts for a long time it is something to worry about. Often parents, teachers or caretakers don’t think about how sharp words and unsympathetic behaviour can have a very negative mental impact on their ward. They also fail to regard depression as a serious issue, taking for granted that the bad mood will pass or their child will outgrow their current issues. This is a mistake- almost as bad as leaving a wound untended until it eventually rots. People undergoing depression, especially youngsters, need to be treated with respect and care.

The first step towards a cure would be a visit to a guidance counsellor. Using the word ‘psychologist’ or ‘therapist’ might have negative connotations on a young mind: besides a depressed person is not crazy! That being said, the youngster should be taken to a qualified, professional counselor. Often parents believe that a heart to heart with their child would do the trick. But resentful teenagers always view their parents as their enemies; hence their words would fall on deaf ears. Patient and persistent counseling which include self esteem building activities will definitely be a good solution.

Often, depressed individuals feel that nobody understands them. Therefore, it is imperative for family and friends to try their best to understand the individual’s feelings and give them their unwavering support. In case counseling doesn’t have any effect, the individual should be taken to a psychiatrist who would step up the treatment and prescribe anti-depressants. These medications like Prozac, known as happy drugs, should only be taken upon prescription and extreme care must be taken to make sure that the individual doesn’t develop a dependence on them ( antidepressants are among the most widely abused prescription drugs). The drugs should only be taken as a last resort option and instead, people should opt for more holistic and positive treatment measures.

Modern lifestyle is both a blessing and a curse. The ease of availability of information is also both a boon and a bane. When exposure to debauchery is so prominent today, it is up to the parents to bring up their children properly, with the right blend of freedom and discipline. The foundations of an individual’s personality are laid down when he is still a child. Therefore, a child needs to be taught how to differentiate between right and wrong at a young age itself.

Furthermore, it is important that parents treat their children with respect, rather than as inferiors, and encourage them through optimism and reward systems which build a positive self esteem. Also, teenagers shouldn’t be treated like children (a thing they hate most!); they should be spoken to as adults and friends rather than admonished for their mistakes. Finally parents should never try to impose their own dreams on their children: they should nurture a youngster’s talent and interest and encourage their endeavours actively. Depression is a sensitive issue and should be handled with kindness not apathy. People undergoing depression are in tremendous amount of pain. In such a case, a little bit of love and sympathy could go a long way in fixing these deep-rooted problems.

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