Young people and mental health in a changing world... Knowing the signs of depression
The focus of this year's World Mental Health Day was 'Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World'. It explored the myriad of mental illnesses affecting youth and highlighted the need for everyone to be aware and offer assistance where possible.
One such illness is depression.
Depression is a medical illness that can make someone feel sad for extended periods of time. It is a serious mood disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and functions in their daily lives.
Persons dealing with this disorder may feel hopeless and helpless,s and they may be of the opinion that no one understands what they are going through.
It is important not only to identify the signs and symptoms of depression, but to help affected persons get treatment.
As one of the more commonly diagnosed mental illnesses in Jamaica, dealing with depression can be a hard process for anyone, especially when a loved one is involved.
Though the signs differ based on individuals, there are some general things to look out for, especially with teens and young adults.
Here are a few.
1. Is the individual generally in an irritable or angry mood?
Irritability, especially when there is no stimulus for same, rather than sadness, is a telltale sign that the individual may be going through a bout of depression. This may manifest itself in grumpiness, hostility, frustration, and even sporadic outbursts of anger.
2. Does the individual suffer from unexplained aches and pains?
Frequent complaints about physical ailments such as random migraines, headaches and stomachaches that when examined by a medical professional bear no physical cause or source may indicate depression.
3. Does the individual exhibit or express feelings of hopelessness?
Teens and young adults who are dealing with depression are often plagued by feelings of worthlessness and of being hopeless. This is particularly so when criticised. Individuals dealing with depression often go through a range of negative emotions that will often leave them feeling vulnerable, rejected and like a failure.
4. Is the individual more withdrawn and reserved than usual?
While this is not a telltale sign of depression, when the individual gets to the point of self-isolation, then there is cause for alarm. For adults and young adults, this isolation tends to manifest itself into depression while for teens, the isolation begins with the withdrawing from peers and peer groups, family and close friends. Once you have noticed this change, it is important to reach out to the individual.
5. Does the individual seem to have lost their zeal for life?
The loss of the feeling of importance or even purpose is a major issue that persons who are suffering from depression deal with daily.
Depression can make individuals feel and do things that are out of character. If negative feelings caused by depression become overwhelming to the point where that individual sees self-harm or even death as a possible solution, suicidal thoughts have come into play.
WHAT TO DO
If you have noticed any of these within yourself or a loved one, it is important not to panic as there are options available to aid in coping.
You can visit your doctor or a psychotherapist to speak about the various options open to you.
If you know of someone who is dealing with depression, the key to providing assistance is to offer emotional support in any way possible and provide encouragement to not only seek out options for healing. Be patient and understanding of the individual's feelings.