Young people become depressed for many reasons.
Its not a simple - or an easily resolved problem.
In cases of serious or ongoing depression there may be other underlying issues such as a mood disorder like bipolar disorder (what used to be called “manic depression”) or borderline personality disorder.
Depression is not the same thing as feeling sad or melancholy. It is a serious state of being unable to enjoy life, to connect, plan, relax or create. Often people who are depressed will isolate themselves. They often appear irritable, lacking in motivation and energy.
People who are depressed struggle to find meaning in life and to understand their purpose.
They often feel isolated and alone. Their pain makes them feel like they would be a burden to others - which can mean that they are unlikely to seek help. Sometimes people with depression can feel ashamed and can lash out at those closest to them. They can also be irritable and angry, rather than allowing their vulnerability to come to the surface.
Depression can destroy relationships - and take away hope.
Telling a depressed person to pull their socks up or get out of bed is like telling someone with cancer that everything will be OK.
It just doesn't work.
Depression Warning Signs
what to look out for in young people:
Changes to feelings or emotions:
feeling unhappy, moody and irritable/snappy for more than two weeks. Some people also have feelings of emptiness or numbness
no longer enjoying things that used to be enjoyable
feeling worthless or guilty a lot of the time
feeling like everything has become ‘too hard’.
Changes to thoughts:
negative thoughts about themselves, the world and the future
having a hard time concentrating and making decisions, or remembering things
having thoughts of death or suicide.
feeling tired most of the time
low energy and motivation
having trouble sleeping (getting to sleep, staying asleep or waking up in the morning)
loss of interest in food or eating too much, leading to weight loss or gain
aches and pains that can’t be explained.
How can therapy help young people who are depressed?
Depression is a pretty serious problem. Whilst it is not something that can be cured quickly, there is good evidence to suggest that it can be helped through therapy.
Getting someone who is depressed to come to therapy can seem like an uphill battle, but it is worth the effort.
A depressed young person may be reluctant to talk about what is going on for them. If they could easily talk about their issues, they probably would not have become depressed in the first place. In many cases they will have overwhelming feelings that are too big or scary for words.
Often, depression will occur when a young person is unable to articulate or feel the underlying feelings that are part of the depression. In order to avoid experiencing these frightening feelings, they will (unconsciously) numb themselves and end up unable to experience anything - including positive emotions like joy and happiness. Their lives will for a time, become limited and insular and they may seem unapproachable.
Therapy can help by gently exploring what is going on for the depressed person.
Slowly understanding, releasing and processing the feelings will help them to understand themselves and be more comfortable with difficult feelings.
They will get in touch with what is really going on for them and be able to have more compassion for their own flaws and vulnerabilities. With time, they will start to reach out and trust those close to them with these difficult feelings and will eventually allow others to comfort them. As they heal, they will be able to better manage their relationships and enjoy the company of those they care about.
As the therapy progresses they will be able to take up the things they used to enjoy, start going out again, see their friends and go back to school or work.