In order to write this blog, I research so that I am increasing my own knowledge, but I also will add my insight and opinion. I do not claim to understand the medical aspect of depression well enough for anyone to base their mental health on the pieces of my blog that are just derived from my opinion or experience. I hope that you will choose to click on the links I have included to base your own opinions on information gathered by the more knowledgable sources. 

My last blog looked at the increases in depression in the world, therefore, I won’t go into much detail besides quoting one more article, What is Depression and Why is it Rising, that once again makes it clear that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

The link between suicide, the second leading cause of death for young people aged 15-29, and depression is clear, and around the world two people kill themselves every minute.

While rates for depression and other common mental health conditions vary considerably, the US is the “most depressed” country in the world…

In addition,  I want to share one segment from an article from the Mayo clinic, Depression (major depressive disorder), that reminds us that even though I will delve into trends and treatments, depression is not simply cured by a blogger with concerns. Educate yourself with research and get proper evaluation of you or your loved one in order to best beat or control this disease. 

Causes

It’s not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental disorders, a variety of factors may be involved, such as:

Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain, but may eventually help pinpoint causes.

Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.

Hormones. Changes in the body’s balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result with pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum) and from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.

Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.

The above article also mentions teens specifically.

Issues such as peer pressure, academic expectations and changing bodies can bring a lot of ups and downs for teens. But for some teens, the lows are more than just temporary feelings — they’re a symptom of depression.

Teen depression isn’t a weakness or something that can be overcome with willpower — it can have serious consequences and requires long-term treatment. For most teens, depression symptoms ease with treatment such as medication and psychological counseling.

Let’s look at some trends that may have changed in the years since the rapid rise began. If you read my blogs, you may have seen some of my past rantings about cell phones. If you haven’t, please go back and read them (Smartphone Addiction and Samrtphones and Focus). Every problem a child faces becomes magnified either by the fact that their problem has been made public, or their problem feels larger than it is due to the comparison factor that comes into play when people are posting their social life online. Everything seems glamorous in the lives of others when we forget most people’s smiles fade as soon as the picture has been taken.

In the following article, Suicides Under Age 13: One every 5 Days, relationship problems are noted as the number one cause of suicide in the teen years. 

Relationship problems — such as arguments or other issues with friends and relatives — were the most common factor for both groups. Given their ages, the problems, naturally, were more likely to involve boyfriend/girlfriend issues in the older group.

We can’t control every relationship issue our children will have, but we can decrease them by limiting their social media time. Let’s face it, social media is today’s telephone. It may be difficult to completely make it disappear, just as our parents did not cut our phone line as we ducked in the bathroom to hear the latest high school drama. It was there then and it’s there now. But we can limit it. Not only because no one needs to stare at social media that long, but also we need to make sure we are trying our best to communicate with our children face to face.

Another issue that has developed in the past decade or so is the push for kids to graduate high school with an associates degrees. Mind you, this push does not necessarily come from the parents, but often from the children themselves to either fit in with peers with that goal or the new age opinion that being at peace and allowing time in our lives to relax is a sign of laziness. Don’t they realize that there is no end of the rainbow they are racing to? There is school that then leads to work. If they don’t stop and enjoy the journey, they are creating a recipe for anxiety and depression. The article, AP = Advanced Pressure: The Dangers Of Educationally Influenced Mental Illness, looks at the statistics behind AP classes and stress.

The increase in AP participation directly correlates to the increase in depression. In fact, from 1980 to 2016, there’s a 95% increase of student participation in an AP classroom (Collegeboard.org). In the same time frame, according to the Nuffield Foundation, an organization founded for social health and research, the rate of teen depression has more than doubled. America’s youth are being thrown a plethora of stress and the detrimental effects are in full force.

In the article, Future of AP Classes Unclear as Schools Seek Alternatives, we see that the AP trend may be changing. We, as parents, can learn more about these options and begin to push for changes in our school systems. Without the anxiety of passing a test for credit after having the material of a college course stuffed into a short class period with less study hours at home, our children may actually learn more and live with less stress.

Some schools have a system in place that allows hands-on courses to affect a student’s GPA the same way an AP course would, Pope said. For the University of California, for example, schools can complete a waiver describing the class and asking for it to impact a student’s GPA in a similar way.

The last trend I’m going to discuss is the competitiveness of today’s sports programs and the pressure our kids inflict on themselves, and we as parents sometimes inflict on them as well. In the article, Competitive Sports: Helping kids play it cool,one paragraph stands out the most to me.

Similarly, check your sideline behaviors. Words have incredible power, so use them carefully, especially when you disagree with coaches and umpires. Praise specific good efforts by your child and other players, even after a loss, and offer criticism constructively and not in the heat of the moment. Make sure your child knows you understand that a game is just a game.

Yes, it’s fun to watch our children play hard and win, but we did not give our children life to entertain us like gladiators. What are we pushing for? The scholarship? Yes, that would be great, but if our children don’t love the sport enough on their own, if they don’t have the desire to give it their all on their own, then the scholarship shouldn’t even have meaning. They will have put in years of their life to reach the college years and find that they are sick to death of the sport anyway. They need to want it on their own, and if they are inflicting their own stress, we need to teach them to be kinder to themselves. 

 

Anxiety and depression often, but not always, go hand in hand. The article, The Comorbidity of Anxiety and Depression, states the following:

In mental health, one of the more common comorbidities is that of depression and anxiety. Some estimates show that 60% of those with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression, and the numbers are similar for those with depression also experiencing anxiety.

There is not a gene that has an anxiety code. Anxiety is created by the world around us. We link past experiences to a situation and then become anxious about it. We learn to be anxious and we can learn not to be anxious. This is good news because if we can control anxiety, then maybe we can also help lessen our children’s depression. Together, we can change the trends that our hurting our children and generations to come.