TW: this article contains content related to depression, self harm, suicide and substance abuse.
Teenage depression gets linked with puberty and hormonal changes that come with it. The imbalance of hormones in those times can make you act on your emotions. Also, it can cause regret within which is a common factor that comes with being a teenager.
The most prominent reason for teenagers to suffer from depression is being misunderstood. By parents, by teachers, by friends, it could be anybody. In Pakistan, depression in teenagers is often brushed over. Even when we know that every 100 minutes a teenager takes their own life. In ages between 15-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. Worldwide, only 30% of teens receive therapy or help for it. The percentage is much lower in Pakistan.
Link with Stress
There is a positive stress and a negative stress. Firstly, Positive stress gets felt when we are nervous or excited about a certain factor in life. For teenagers, it can mean the start of a relationship, and getting into the best college. Positive stress does not last very long, it wears off within a week or two.
Secondly, when it comes to negative stress, it can damage your brain and body. Long term stress gets caused in regards to a long term situation. For teenagers in Pakistan it is the pressure of perfection by their parents or family. Also, it can be childhood abuse, drugs, alcohol, personality, bullying and other factors. When a lot of stress inducing factors come together they form a feeling of distress within. This is depression.
There are 4 major causes of depression in teenagers in Pakistan.
Only recently in Pakistan has mental illness become a topic people are open to talk about. Earlier, it was a taboo and something that is wrong for us to assume. Due to this societal effect, few people actually receive help for their illnesses.
When you have a family history of depression, you are more likely to have it. But, it doesn’t take effect until triggered. For many teenagers it gets triggered during late teenage years. When parents who have not received treatment for their mental issues face the hurdle of an angsty or/and hormonal teen, they are bound to lose their mind. They can project it onto their children. It can cause them to feel guilt, anger and other damaging emotions. They have little to no control over due to their hormonal changes.
The link between health conditions and depression gets formed. It comes through chronic illnesses, life changing accidents or surgeries. When you end up with a chronic or life altering health condition, it is bound to make you dependent. With the limit in your mobility and decisions get affected by your illness. It can cause guilt and despair and lead to sadness which later transforms into depression.
Chronic illnesses include those that cannot be completely cured. But, it can get managed by altering the lifestyle. It can get controlled through medicine. Also, this includes diabetes, heart ailments, kidney disease, arthritis, cancer, etc. There are more issues too. For instance, life changing accidents, injuries or surgeries may include amputation, burns, damage to the spine, loss of one of the senses, brain injury or more.
When a patient is going through their life or treatment, the most common problem is depression. Depression causes sluggishness, isolation, body aches and more, so when a patient is already dealing with this and gets depressed these conditions are most likely to amplify.
Substance abuse becomes a cause for chronic depression in the cases where a developing teen is trying drugs or there is already suffering from some depressive state.
When you’re unhappy, people tend to look for the easy way out and turn to drugs or alcohol. In today’s Pakistan, unfortunately, these substances have become more common on the streets than you might want to believe.
These substances can subside the feeling of depression, self harm and such. But consuming these substances or dabbling in them is a dangerous game. Also, it can lead to complications down the road. This can include permanent brain damage, liver issues, lung issues and others.
Your body is prone to becoming addicted to such substances. This can happen in your teenage years as they include finding yourself. In Pakistan, teenagers tend to dabble in such activities. It comes as a result of academic and/or familial pressure.
There are three major personality traits that work to cause depression. It can come in the late teens and lead to life long depression unless treated.
Neuroticism is a trait that causes excessive negative moods. It brings impulses in one’s personality. This can include anger, irritability, emotional instability, self-consciousness and can lead to depression.
Extraversion is a personality trait often observed in extroverts. It defines an outgoing person who wants attention. They want to get surrounded by people all the time. The risk factor of this personality includes excessive feelings of loneliness, valuing others’ interpretation of you more, coming off as controlling, unable to make proper judgment. All the uncertainty that comes with this personality can grow. It can lead to a belief of self hate and evolve into depression sooner or later.
Conscientiousness includes people who have this trait get examined to be very proper. They like to plan everything ahead of time. They portray a high level of discipline. You would never catch them acting spontaneously. Personalities who inherit this trait are more prone to agitation. They have a feeling of loss and disappointment when a goal is not achieved. They are too serious for their own good which becomes their downfall.
Low Conscientiousness refers to people who rather lack this trait. They are those who do not have any aims and do not tend to plan ahead or care enough to. People who suffer from this trait are more likely to show criminal behavior. They can dabble in criminal acts. They tend to be less goal oriented, more laid back and always seek the easiest and fastest way out of situations. The feeling of having no real goal, drive or motivation in life can cause them to develop depression.
Stress stems from pressure inflicted on you by a third party. It can be various kind of pressures including:
Academic pressure is being burdened by the stress of performing well in academics. This is regardless of your brain function, time and capacity.
Familial pressure is an imbalance of power in households. This leads to stress which gets translated to depression. Females tend to become a victim of this more than males due to the active misogyny in pakistan.
Religious pressure is when families don’t let you question your religion. Instead of an explanation you’re forced to perform acts in the name of religion. Many things you might not understand. People in Pakistan tend to introduce their practices. They call it a religious thing as well. This feeling of uncertainty can lead to excessive stress and depression.
Peer pressure – in your teenage years, highschools, colleges and universities have different cliques or groups with their own vibes. To become a part of a certain group students face harassment and bullying by their ‘friends’, only so they can hangout with them. This leads to trust issues, low self-esteem and trauma which is later classified as depression.
Depression in Pakistani teenagers is preventable. Teenagers are taught toxic behaviors throughout their lives such as; don’t show emotions, don’t share family problems, don’t cry in front of people and more, all boils down to not asking for help.
The build-up of stress in these situations is immense and can lead to a depressive state of mind. Children should be motivated to speak out and share their issues, and their families are supportive enough to listen and help them out.
the basic preventative methods of depression include;
Make sure your body is well-rested,
Getting enough sleep,
Indulging in at least one activity, you enjoy daily
If you ever feel like life isn’t going as planned, feel overwhelmed or experience anything which causes a pit in your stomach, do not hesitate to reach out to someone understanding in your life (family or friends). Good people help you notice good things about life; they make life worth living and enjoyable; if the people you choose to keep around you fail to create this space, it is understandable to break off your friendship or relationship before it’s too late.
It is momentous to know and understand that you come first. It is not narcissism to want what’s better for you. Be true to yourself and always hold yourself and your needs in high regard.
Depression may not be identifiable at times. It might be confused with stress. But, it has certain clear indications. Here are some of the most prominent symptoms:
Feeling if sadness
Lack of energy/ lethargic
Sleeping too much or too less
Eating too much or too less
Eating habits causing sudden weight gain/loss
Lack of interest in activities
Drop in academic performance.
If you see anyone with these symptoms or at least a few of them, then make sure to help them out.
Parents can play a pivotal role in helping the teenagers cope with their anxiety. Parents need to know that the present generation does not prefer scolding. They want someone who can listen to them. They want to go out and rant about their feelings. Who can be a better listener than a parent here?
Unfortunately, most of the parents tend to keep a distance from their child. This distance, they argue, is to keep the child disciplined. Also, they want their children to fear them so that they may never disobey them. This principle is very old school. Studies have revealed that parenting is no more about disciplining the child.
Modern parenting is about being a friend to your child. When you are with your child, you should come down to their level. So you should try to match their ages and talk with them like a friend would. This informality would make the child open up to you. It will give them the feeling that they are not alone. Their parents are their support system.
While your child is speaking to you, avoid judging them at all costs. If your child talks about an issue with you. Your technique should be to listen and accommodate the speaker. Allow them to say it all. Let it come out of their system. Once they have given you all the details, you should deliberate on it as a neutral person not as a parent. This is important because if you think like a parent you may feel biased in many ways.
Another parent-like figure in the lives of children is the teacher. Students depend on what the teachers say and behave. They take them as their role models. Many times a child would prefer to listen to his/her teacher than a parent. Students may feel comfortable confiding their experiences in a teacher. This bent towards the teachers makes them a vital individual. Teachers can play a very helpful role when it comes to dealing with depression.
Universities assign teachers as advisors and counselors to particular students. This relation will make the student and teacher meet and discuss issues. The teacher can use their experience to guide and counsel the student in an effective manner. Often, teachers can help in putting end to suicidal thoughts in depressed students.
Regardless of the subject they are teaching, an instructor should ensure discussing positive things in the class. Also, each class should dedicate a few minutes to sharing good tips, techniques and life experiences. Students should always have a say in things. They should come out of the buddle of a passive listener. They should get an opportunity to speak up and vent their voice. This is the ultimate purpose of education. It is to create critical thinkers and innovative creators. In such a way, teachers can become very important.
A positive gesture or attitude can also be effective. When students see how nicely a teacher deals with them, they start adapting the habit too. Thus, the students would adore such a teacher and respect him/her. It is important that teachers keep their class away from anxiety, and depression. This is possible only if the teacher becomes more of a facilitator in class rather than a lecturer. Instructors can bring a child from the slums of depression to glorified optimism. So, if there are any teachers out there, please know how important your role is here.
There are some remedies which can solve the feelings of depression. We will be elaborating on these strategies. If you see someone around you who seems depressed then please ensure to apply these. You will see a noticeable difference in the behavior and outlook of the person, when you will apply these techniques.
Having a Goal
When you have an aim in life, you are sure what your purpose is. This goal helps in staying away from negativity. It helps you stay grounded and focused. You are able to deviate your attention from depression. This is because you are able to remind yourself that I am beyond this problem. You can move forward and overcome the feelings of depression.
Getting a Good Sleep
Lack of sleep makes you weak, tired and ill. You are more prone to think negatively when you lack sleep. Try your best to take time out for a good night’s sleep. Have those complete seven to eight hours. You will feel refreshed. This practice would help you think of the problems in a better and enlightened way. You will be able to solve the issues with an active mind. Also, you will be able to find strategies to avoid falling in the trap of self-pity.
Engaging in Something New
When you are able to make yourself busy in something, it means you are going in the right direction. There are so many unexplored avenues around you. Try to take them up one by one. For example, you can start learning a new language. Also, you can join an online community which pertains to your interests. You will be able to meet like minded people with whom you can discuss things. Start a new hobby like collecting artifacts, making crafts or reusing old material.
Taking Up Responsibilities
Everyday chores can be demanding. You can take these up and make yourself busy in managing them. Talk to your family members, ask if they need your help in doing something around the house. You will not only be able to make them happy but you will be able to keep your mind busy. This technique will help you change your focus. Every good deed helps you feel good about yourself. These small chores would help boost your morale. You will soon be able to come back to life.
Countering Negative Thoughts
Many times, you will feel overpowered with negative thoughts. You have to be strong enough to shun these. Tell yourself that you have to avoid such thoughts. You need to count your blessings. You need to remind yourself about the people who love you. This technique is all about controlling your brain and bringing it to the right track.
Make sure to put these practical strategies in mind. They will help you overcome the difficult times.
You should always know these useful numbers. Whenever you see someone in need, make sure to leave these numbers with them. These organizations try to console people who are victims of depression. People can provide consultations, treatments and discussions on the phone. The list is as follows:
Umang Mental Health Helpline
Suicide prevention by GRACEE
MIND Organisation inaugurated Helpline for Suicide Prevention
Rozan Counseling Services
We hope that this article was helpful in explaining many perspectives about the problem of depression. The problem is very common these days. Look around you. There would be many people who are trying to fight this issue. Try to be kinder to them. Look out for yourself and for others too. Good luck.