Depression in Teenagers – Now What Can We Do?

No doubt you have seen the recent news headlines about a federal panel that recommended to the FDA that anti-depressant medications carry the strongest possible warning label for use in children and teenagers. This recommendation to the FDA shook the medical community, especially those who work with depressed young people. The biggest problem from the treatment community’s point of view was not the recommendation for the warning label, but the way that the media portrayed the panel’s recommendation. The panel reported that 2% to 4% of children and teens who were given anti-depressants for the treatment of depression became suicidal, that is they had suicidal thoughts, or made suicidal attempts of one kind or another. None of the 4,000 children and teens studied committed suicide. What the media did not report well is the fact that 15% of children and teens with depression who receive no treatment will commit suicide. These 15% will not just think about it, but will actually kill themselves. So what are we to do? If the media had their way it seems that no teens with depression would receive anti-depressants. As a result the suicide rate for those who could be using the medication would rise from nearly zero percent to about fifteen percent. But at least we wouldn’t have to be concerned about evil medications. Look, I understand that there actually are young people, even adults, who have become suicidal only after beginning treatment with an anti-depressant. Some have in fact gone on to take their own lives. This is absolutely tragic. But so is the fact that untreated depression is potentially a fatal disease. Fifteen out of one hundred young people with depression take their own lives. They should be allowed to receive a treatment that will lower the suicide rate dramatically, and without any stigma attached to it by the media. Recently we had a patient brought to our counseling center named John (not his real name). John was rebellious, angry, withdrawn, and in trouble often, and yet he was diagnosed and treated for depression. When we think of someone who is depressed, we usually picture a sad, tearful, lonesome person. But teenagers with depression don’t look like adults with depression. Current studies show that there are about as many teenagers who are depressed as there are adults that are depressed. However, depression is exhibited far differently by teenagers than by adults. Teenagers do not commonly display gloom, self-depreciation, or talk about feeling hopeless like adults do. Teenagers with Major Depression are described in diagnostic manuals as often becoming negative and antisocial. Feelings of wanting to leave home, or of not being understoodand approved of increase. The teen often changes, and becomes more restless, grouchy, or aggressive. A reluctance to cooperate in family ventures, and withdrawal from social activities, with retreat to one’s room are frequent. School difficulties are likely as concentration is affected. Sometimes there is inattention to personal appearance and increased emotionality. Often there is an increased sensitivity to rejection in love relationships as well. Teenage boys will often become aggressive, agitated, and get into trouble at home, at school, or with the law. Teenage girls will sometimes become preoccupied with themes of death or dying, and become decreasing concerned about how they look. Suicidal thoughts are common. Some studies suggest that 500,000 teens attempt suicide each year, and 5000 are successful. Increased use of alcohol or other drugs is common, along with other forms of “self-destructive behaviors.” Poor self-esteem is common with teenagers, but especially with those who are depressed. Parents are often confused and frustrated when their teens begin to act like this. Sometimes parents become stern disciplinarians, or even put the teen down, which only serves to increase feelings of guilt and depression. Other times, parents feel helpless, and stand by waiting for adulthood to arrive. Of course neither course is the right one to take. If you know of a teen whose behaviors have changed to look like what has been described above, let the parents know that there is help available, and encourage the family to seek help from a professional. With proper diagnosis and treatment a depressed teen, or adult, can be greatly helped. If someone close to you is suffering from depression, first please understand that depression is a very emotionally painful condition. For some people with depression it turns into a “terminal illness” due to suicide. Please take the situation seriously. 1) Get a medical evaluation. Symptoms of depression can be the result of a wide assortment of illnesses, including thyroid problems, viral infections, and other factors. 2) Deprex is an amino acid and homeopathic medicine for the treatment of depression that we have seen work well with our patients. It may be worth trying as long as the situation is “stable” and there is no suicidal thinking on the part of the depressed person. 3) Medications such as Prozac can be very helpful for more difficult cases. Consult your doctor. These medications are often prescribed by Family Practice Doctors, but in most cases ought to be monitored by Psychiatrists. 4) Increase intake of Protein somewhat. Use a protein powder supplement, just like a weight lifter. 5) Exercise daily. Just get out and walk for about 15 minutes. 6) Seek out counseling from someone who is good at treating depression. This can do a world of good for you. However, always use great wisdom and common sense when choosing a therapist. Some are good, and some are not, so choose wisely.

Tasks to Practice to Escape Depression

Recouping from dejection is a long and troublesome excursion. Sadly, half of individuals who have one noteworthy scene of depression will relapse, and the probability goes up in the event that you’ve had more than one encounter with the similar situation. Your depressive habits can change continuously, remaining contingent upon the seriousness of your manifestations and family history.

The uplifting news is that there are a few stages that may help you keep away from dejection backslide. While remaining occupied isn’t an issue, doing excessively, too early could be. Feeling overpowered makes stress, and stress is a hazard figure for melancholy, ultimately causing you to leave out on most of your productive habits, tasks, etc. Below are a few of the tasks that need to be practiced on a regular basis to avoid disturbance of the mind.

Exercise:

Exercise appears to be an antidepressant in its own way and has the power to treat you like an antidote would. The exertion of the body, on a physical note, allows your mind to divert itself from the other experiences that you practice on a day to day basis. Furthermore, it also withdraws you from the routine stresses while making way for productivity and new ideas. It is a meditative practice which prevents the mind from staying vigilant onto the points that depress you.

Reading:

A positive attitude has to be developed by performing certain tasks or activities with the help of treatments and books. The best kind of treatment or help you can get is through the power of reading.

Open up your mind to a diverse number of scenarios and escape the reality for a while by indulging yourself in some of the most philosophical books that you can get your hands on. It will help you develop an upbeat mindset.

Writing:

Apart from getting a tailored treatment for your specific case of depression, you need to lookout for other tips to get going on the path to happiness. Even if you cannot find the reasons to be happy, you need to uncover the facts that are liable of bringing a smile on your face. In short, you need the eyes to see the silver lining on a cloudy day.

The symptoms can be alleviated with the help of a sleek Black Lamy Fountain Pen and a notebook. Keeping a journal and updating incidents on a daily basis not only marks the struggle of your journey, but also makes you aware of the obstacles that you have overcome.

Since depression is linked to a great deal of other diseases, like heart problems, blood pressure, etc., you need to associate or introduce you to the art of writing to seek new ways of hope for yourself. Until and unless you don’t find your own way out of your depressed world, you will not be able to accomplish anything in life.

However, while you are on the verge of deciding the appropriate treatment for yourself, you need to address the problem by holding a great pen in hand. Simply search for the best pens online and choose the pen of your choice!

The Anxiety and Depression Epidemic and the Spending Disconnect

We keep pouring money into our personal electronic devices like there’s no tomorrow, always wanting more, always wanting the very latest-and schools are no different. In fact, $3.8 billion is spent on classroom technology every year-but 27% of it doesn’t meet any learning goals!

Translation: $1 billion of your ed tech tax dollars are wasted annually.

At the same time, in the name of funding issues, only three states provide kids with at least one school counselor-formerly known as guidance counselors-for every 250 students, as recommended. Equally troubling, just three others have at least one school psychologist for every 750 students, so says federal data.

Put them together and what have you got? Rising rates of anxiety and depression in our young people with not much of a safety net at the ready for them.

Moreover…

  • In a 2019 Pew Research Poll, 70% of surveyed teens agreed that stress, anxiety, and depression are a major problem among their peers.
  • A 2017 American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey found that 60% of parents worry about social media’s influence on their child’s physical and mental health.
  • A recent NBC News/Survey Monkey poll found that almost 33% of 1,300 parents of 5- to 17-year-olds blamed social media for their children’s mental and emotional health problems.
  • From 2009 to 2017, the CDC says that depression rates for those 14 to 17 rose by more than 60%.
  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 32% of adolescents suffer from an anxiety disorder, with 12% of our 12- to 17-year-olds reporting one major depressive episode in the last year.
  • Between 2005 and 2017, the proportion of teens, 12 to 17, reporting major depressive symptoms rose from 8.7% to 13.2%, according to data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health.

About such facts and arguing that teens turn to their smartphones as their “preferred social outlet,” San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge says, “It suggests that something is seriously wrong in the lives of young people and that whatever went wrong seemed to happen around 2012 or 2013.”

And that’s about the time when, as Twenge notes, smartphones became commonplace and “social media moved from being optional to mandatory among youngsters… What you get is a fundamental shift in how teens spend their leisure time. They are spending less time sleeping, less time with their friends face-to-face… It is not something that happened to their parents… “

University of Southern California Vice Provost for Campus Wellness & Crisis Intervention Varun San adds this: “At the root of it is a sense of disconnection. These are students who are so connected online. These are students that may have 1,000 friends online but struggle to make friends in real life.”

Also of note:

  1. Of the 1,800 19- to 21-year-olds questioned, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that the top 25% of social media users are at greater risk of experiencing depression than the bottom 25%.
  2. The University College London found that teens who use social media more than 5 hours a day showed a 50% increase in depressive symptoms among girls and a 35% jump among boys compared to the 1- to 3-hour users.
  3. According to a UK Millennium Cohort study, 43% of girls said they spend 3 hours or more on social media, as did 21.9% of boys-and 26% of those girls and 21% of those boys had higher depressive scores than those spending less than 3 hours.

And now this just in: An analysis by the National Institutes of Health, the University of Albany, and NYU’s Langone Medical Center found that babies as young as 12 months experience nearly one hour of screen time every day, and 3-year-olds put in more than 150 minutes.

In other words, take heed and set limits, following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines that recommend NO screens for babies/toddlers under 18 months, with a gradual add-on between 18 to 24 months, and no more than one hour per day for the 2 to 5 set.

And then tell your kids…

  1. No more than 2 hours a day on any device-other than computer-related homework.
  2. No devices at the dinner table or during quiet homework/study time except for online assignments
  3. No device use one hour before bedtime-too stimulating, plus the blue light wreaks havoc on sleep.
  4. No going to bed with their smartphone in hand. If used as a wake-up alarm, buy an alarm clock instead.

Oh, yes, and follow your own good advice for your own good…

Manic Depression – What Are The Symptoms?

Manic depression can be defined as an extended stage of mood swings. One may experience these mood swings from really high to very low degree. The high degree is known as manic and the lower as depressed.

Bipolar disorder is yet another name for manic depressive illness. This stage usually refers to as an individual’s mood that shifts between different ‘poles’ of mania and depression.

Manic Depression is not something to be taken lightly. It is a serious disorder and needs serious professional and personal care.

Manic depression can affect both men and women. There is no specific age at which this disease usually starts. However, experts believe that the onset of this disease takes place in late adolescence.

This disorder can be found among people irrespective of their age, race, social classes and ethnic groups. Medical experts feel that this disease has a genetic link and even tends to run in the families.

The disease does not only affect the patient but also the person who attends to him or her. The immediate family circle is known to suffer a lot. Here are some of the symptoms related to this disorder:

a) Less amount of sleep required.

b) Increased energy; Restlessness; Increased activity

c) Poor Judgment; Euphoric mood (excessively high); Spending sprees

d) Abuse of drugs including cocaine, sleeping pills and alcohol

e) Shifting from one idea to another very frequently

f) Tendency to get distracted easily; Inability to concentrate well; Extreme irritability

g) Talking fast; Racing thoughts

h) Aggressive behavior; Intrusive behavior; Provocative behavior

i) Unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities and powers; Denial that anything is wrong

j) Lasting period of behavior that’s quite different from usual

The symptoms for low or ‘depressive’ stage of manic depression:

a) Thoughts of death; Thoughts of suicide; Suicide attempts

b) Restlessness; Irritability

c) Feeling of hopelessness; Extreme pessimism

d) Sleeping too much; Inhibits to sleep or insomnia

e) Difficulty in concentrating; Lack of memory

f) Lack of energy; Loss of interest in pleasure activities

g) Change in appetite; Weight loss without making any efforts; Weight gain

h) Difficulty in making decisions; A feeling of fatigue

i) Feeling guilty; Feeling of worthlessness: Feeling of helplessness

j) Chronic pain; Symptoms in body not as a result of injury or illness

k) Long-lasting mood of moroseness; Empty mood; Anxiety that lasts long

– Causes

There are several causes of manic depression. Here is a list of some of the causes that lead to manic depression:

a) Genetic factor

As discussed earlier, manic depression tends to run in families. Chromosomes tend to show genetic abnormalities.

b) Fast biological clock

Hypothalamus, the center of the brain shows a super fast biological ‘clock’. The clock is actually a small cluster of nerves known as the supra chiasmatic nucleus or SCN. This works towards regulating an individual’s daily cycle of life and affects waking and sleeping.

c) Neurotransmitters

Patients of manic depression are known to have higher levels of vesicular monoamine transporter. It is a protein inside the brain that’s known to regulate neurotransmitters.

Other causes include abnormal activity of brain and infectious agents such as viruses.

What Kind of Church Welcomes Those With Depression?

Recently I was shocked to hear the news of another young man, a pastor, who had taken his own life, leaving behind a beautiful wife and three gorgeous kids. It is heartbreaking to say the least.

This article could go in many different directions. But I’m choosing the direction that seems to me to be most obvious. The world needs a church where the sick are welcome, and where even the senior leaders are allowed to be sick even in their appointed seasons of ministry.

Why? Because it happens.

The system of church must be able to cope with it, especially given that the church is a hospital for the sick.

What I talk about here is not physical disease, but the mental, emotional, spiritual maladies that so many of us have been dogged by. I have had three major bouts of depression, I have suffered panic attacks, and I have endured enough grief to understand and accept that suffering is endemic to life.

So why is there a perception that those with depression are not welcome in the church?

Why would there not be the appropriate support and counselling and programmes of training to help sick people? Well, sometimes there are resource constraints.

Part of the reason, perhaps, is that our modern world is so geared around slick and efficient operations, and pastoral leaders feel driven to replicate that in the church.

This perfectionism that can never be satisfied has become part of modern church culture.

So many young and not-so-young men and women in the church today are under enormous pressure to serve well enough to please the people they serve as well as the church boards they work for.

The church needs to be a place where we can be rewarded for our honesty regarding our weaknesses.

After all, it’s a biblical idea that we receive Christ’s strength when we admit our weakness. The trouble is we live in a day that has forgotten biblical tradition, and that has bought the lie that successful church must be competitive, and that successful ministry must be both effective and founded in excellence. Church is run like a business, competing for its members, with its sales and marketing strategies, instead of simply rooting itself in living out the gospel.

There are many reasons why churches may not embrace the concept of strength-in-weakness within their ministries. Many forces collide. Part of the issue is the intrusion of prosperity, name-it-claim-it, doctrine.

It seems to me that if we are to improve the acceptance of mental health issues like depression in our churches we need to embrace them across the board. What would Jesus have us do? Deny the reality? By no means!

I cannot think of a better way of doing this than one of the pastors or key leaders being completely transparent about a current struggle. Oh, I know that that used to be a no-no. As a pastor you would not share on anything unless you had overcome it. But pastors also need to lead the way in vulnerability which shows humility.

Pastors need to show courage, ironically in their weakness by being vulnerable, to encourage others in their weakness.

That sort of example of weakness begins with the pastor!

But churches don’t seem to like their pastors being weak.

This is because we’ve fallen for the lie that leaders are strong.

In many things in life, however, ‘overcoming’ is fanciful, as if we could click our fingers and overcome depression. Anyone who’s been depressed knows that is nonsense. We don’t have that sort of control over this black dog. And this is entirely biblical. The Bible would lead us to the lament psalms, Ecclesiastes, the book of Job, the prophetic writings, and in the New Testament, Second Corinthians, and specifically, that thorn in Paul’s side, among many others. The idea is suffering is central in the Bible. Moses, David, Jonah, Elijah, Jeremiah, the list goes on and on. Can the suffering servant Jesus of Isaiah 45-55 not understand our depression, especially in the light of the cross?

Why is it that pastors need to project the image that they have it all together? None of us do…

Their heroes in the Bible didn’t.

There seems to be a system of development for pastors that does not allow much leeway for them to have genuine and ongoing struggles. Like, that kind of weakness counts against them or counts them out. Yet this tradition forgets about some of the best pastors who suffered, like Spurgeon. I know from a writing perspective that I am more deeply connected to God in the words I write when I am struggling. There is a deeper kind of ministry that we may tap into in our depression, so long as we don’t feel overwhelmed by it, and so long as a deeper kind of ministry would be allowed. Acceptance is a powerful economy.

Pastors with depression must be embraced all the more! Pastors who have suffered depression are all the better equipped for ministry. And churches need to wrestle more with how effectively they support people in the darkness. Smoke machines, brewed coffee and stealth-like efficiency make a mockery of the tenets of the church with its own book on suffering.

Churches are complex environments for those who work in them, whether they are paid or volunteers. Those who are paid always put in many more hours than they are paid for, and those who are volunteers give hundreds of hours per year for the love of it.

It would be okay if it was satisfying work, but many times it’s not worth the conflict, or the constant not meeting of the high standards many churches set, and I’m not meaning standards of holiness, but standards of effectiveness. The workplace environment in churches can be more toxic than the comparative workplace environment in secular workplaces. The sense of inadequacy, the conflicts that don’t go away, the pressure from leaders and members, the pressure to lead, and the spiritual warfare that is part of the environment all contribute to the chaos that broods in a pastor or ministry leader and threatens to burn them out in a spirit of despair.

Surely, we could understand that there are a plethora of precursors that predispose people in the church to suffer depression and anxiety-related disorders.

I suggest that the kind of church that accepts and even embraces those with depression, especially those within the ranks of its pastors, is Christ’s church.

Surely it must grieve the Spirit of God that so many pastors, and anyone for that matter, are suffering alone, not to mention the ones that are dying!

Here are some things that the church provided that I found helped me when I suffered depression in ministry:

  1. Even more so I was embraced within leadership, as the leadership understood that I needed the support of fellowship. When we are feeling weak we need much encouragement, and the best encouragement comes from those who are most mature in the faith. Leaders who are suffering depression must be around leaders who are compassionate and wise.
  2. There was a culture that embraced both weakness and honesty. Both are needed. We are only strong until we become weak, and it is only a matter of time. When we are weak we need to be honest, and the church must build a culture that demands honesty and provides safety for everything that is disclosed.
  3. There was a devotion to prayer, which is another way of saying that the ministry of healing is God’s business; that those within the Church understood that clichés and advice had limited or even damaging effect.
  4. As I shared my burden and my incapacity, I was still allowed to do what I felt I needed to do, but other leaders took on the more onerous responsibilities. This often meant that they would delegate off single tasks to others which was an opportunity to develop them. What I found most encouraging is these other leaders would not make me feel guilty. They simply understood. Churches need to nurture a culture that exemplifies empathy and compassion.