The teenage years are an exciting yet challenging time. There are a whole host of changes taking place- your body is maturing and you are becoming aware of how you look, you are able to reason, analyze and want to take independent decisions, you become aware of your strengths and start to decide what kind of a career you want, and your friends and classmates play an even more significant role in your life. These should be years of exploration, honing skills, developing positive relationships, learning from mistakes. However, many times, due to the result-driven systems and the competitive world we live in, there is more focus on “achievement-based” outcomes rather than on who you are becoming during these years.
We don’t blame you. We understand. You hear it all around you- what should you score in exams, how many followers you should have on instagram to be considered cool, how media tells you what weight you should be at, what jobs are respectful, and that while trying to achieve these unrealistic, unhealthy standards, you should make no mistakes. It is difficult to fit in; to fulfill expectations and it is bound to be stressful.
Research over the last 5 years has shown that teenagers are actually more stressed than adults since teenagers undergo more pressure and receive less support. All this stress can trigger feelings of hopelessness and depression. You might start feeling overwhelmed and feel like you are losing control. It also becomes tough to express what you are feeling and you may not even be aware whether you are feeling overwhelmed- the following symptoms will help you check in with yourself if you are feeling depressed.
– You feel sad during most of the day, particularly in the morning. You find yourself crying or getting irritated easily.
– You feel tired, generally unwell and don’t feel like trying.
– You don’t feel confident, feel bad about yourself and guilty that you are “wrong”
– You have difficulty concentrating and making decisions
– You might be having problems in school (low academic performance, getting into trouble, not paying attention in class)
– You spend more time alone (this includes time alone from parents and time away from close friends)
– You are losing interest in hobbies and things don’t seem fun anymore.
– You think of self- harm and suicide
– You indulge in alcohol or drugs regularly
– You have gained weight or lost weight without consciously doing to.
– You sleep too much or too little
Remember these are warning signs, and we can do something about this. While you transition to adulthood, trying to navigate through these years can be scary and you might start feeling alone if you do not receive guidance. We want to help you understand what you can do if you are noticing symptoms of depression:
- Acknowledge and Accept your feelings: Depression is not your fault. You are not weak or a bad person for thinking or feeling like that. Right now, you are hurting and you need kindness. Start with being kind to yourself.
- Talk to someone: We know it is not easy sharing these uncomfortable feelings. Remind yourself though that it is even more burdensome to go through these uncomfortable feelings alone and talking to someone might ease that.
- Stay connected: Cut back on online communication as social media does not make you feel better. Try and set time out to meet close friends, call them over if you do not feel like stepping out.
- Take care of your body: The mind can be filled with all kinds of troublesome thoughts. It will be hard to set a routine by yourself. Sign up for a class that keeps you active and moving. Get a friend to help you eat right and stay off alcohol or drugs.
- Mindfulness meditation: Start with just 10 mins of meditation every day, it will help you pause and become more aware of how you feel, and hence, less critical of yourself. There are a lot of places that have group meditations which can also be very powerful.
- Reach out for Help: When you are in the throes of sadness, all of the above might seem humongous steps to take. Reach out for professional help, especially when you are having suicidal thought. A mental health professional such as a psychiatrist and/or a therapist will provide you with a safe space and support you in coping more healthily.
Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression. (57 million of those people are Indian and many more in that are teenagers and young adults.) Evidently troubling, suicide is becoming something we hear more and more in the news. It is a massive concern and people are now recognizing it. World Health Day on 7th April had Depression as its focus theme because Mental Health matters. No matter how big or small your problem is, your mental health matters. So, asking for help when you are feeling depressed is a sign of courage and the first step towards recovery.
“The thing about today is there’s always tomorrow,
and if you can’t find your smile theres one you can borrow.
The thing about help, beside you it stands,
but it won’t know its needed until you reach out your hand.
The thing about love, is you can’t feel its touch
until you let someone know that this world is too much.”- E.H.
Psychologist and Psychotherapist
Masters in Clinical Psychology.
Bachelors in Psychology.