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For many, realising that childhood is over and the pressures of the real world are not too far down the road is enough to trigger the onset of teenage depression. School tasks, family issues, relationships (or lack thereof) and social pressures add to the problems teenagers already face, thus making teenage depression a worldwide problem.
Young children often vocalise their life ambitions - dreams of going into space, becoming a famous actor, driving a Porsche and so on. Many teenagers feel these childhood dreams slipping away and find themselves at a loss for direction in life. The more intelligent the subject, the harder it seems. While ignorance is bliss, awareness can be misery.
Theories about teenage depression are numerous and far-reaching; however, none seems to successfully encompass all cases. One such theory: the Generation X1 mentality was caused by the freedom today's young people enjoy, thus giving them more time to think about what they can never become.
Teenagers have been misunderstood since the beginning of time. Each new generation faces new challenges foreign to the previous generation. Older generations often brush off teenage depression - considering it a phase, which it oftentimes is. However, misreading signals can sometimes prove fatal should a teenager give in to the misery and decide to take his or her own life.
The rift between teenagers and parents is often caused by misunderstandings created by a lack of communication. Many times, parents have done what their teens have done, made the mistakes their teens have made, and have not achieved what they wanted to achieve. To teenagers, it seems unlikely that their parents could forget such a period of unrivalled misery. If they had indeed been through it, it seems highly unlikely they can be so insensitive to it.
The Road to Self-Discovery
During this time of self-ponderance, teenagers discover things such as:
Alcohol is the best thing on the planet, it helps take a step back from reality.
A pro-alcohol and anti-drug stance becomes harder and harder to justify.
All religion is fiction.
Our elders, except in a few cases, have wasted their lives in irrelevancy.
Expression is the hardest thing.
The things we want the most are the things we can have the least.
All my life my heart has sought a thing I cannot name
- Remembered line from long-forgotten poem
A Personal Perspective
One sufferer comments:
I don't know about you, but to me depression sums up varied images. To me it could be the goth, clad in monotonous black, the mascara and face powder bringing an eerie chill to the clown without a smile. It could be the fat kid or the kid with glasses that we have all made fun of or laughed at in some way. It could be the people standing in a graveyard, mourning the passing of a loved one. It could be the single mother without enough money for clothes or food to feed her baby.
But I never thought it would be an 18- to 19-year-old lad, with a steady if poorly-paid and boring job, a roof over his head, a girlfriend who loved him, and a supportive family. I never thought the picture of depression would be me.
It started off with what I thought was just plain laziness. I couldn't be bothered doing the simple things like tidying up, washing the dishes and going to the shop. Then I started phoning in sick for work because I couldn't be bothered dragging my backside out of bed. I didn't want to see or talk to anyone. All I wanted to do was sit at home in the dark and play Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. I ate and gained weight. I stopped talking to my friends. In the space of about three months, I'd gone from being an outgoing, confident, guitar-playing hellraiser to a virtual hermit.
So along to the doctor I went. I told him what was going on and he said, 'I think you're suffering from depression'. So the first thing that went through my head was, what do I have to be depressed about?
Four different anti-depressants later, I still hadn't figured it out. So I stopped taking them, though this may not be the best course for everyone.
Now some of you may be asking yourselves, what the point is to this long-winded little story. My point is that now I'm well on the road to recovery and this is all thanks to the support I've had. From my doctor and, most importantly, my friends and family. Depression is not something to be scared of, or hid away from. Depression is a battle, and if you go it alone you're gonna be on the losing side. Talk to someone. A friend, your doctor, a co-worker, a stranger on the end of the phone or in an email to the Samaritans.
But just talk to someone. Because realising you are not alone is the first step to recovery.
Check out the National Parenting Centre for signs of teenage depression.