If you grew up in a household in which your parents were depressed, that emotional landscape might be all you know. If everyone you spend time with felt that mental illness was a reason to be judgmental, then perhaps the idea of being depressed won’t even cross your mind. Likely, the idea of seeking any sort of mental health treatment won’t even enter your thought stream.
Yet, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world is becoming more and more depressed. Not only organized nations but also developing nations – as they assimilate the ideas of Western Society – are showing evidence of depression in their people. In Japan, for instance, the number of diagnoses for depression has doubled between 1999 and 2008. And according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates, which is 21 people per 100,000, while the suicide rate for the United States is at 12 per 100,000. The World Health Organization expects depression to be the second most prevalent medical condition in the world by 2020.
Despite the global prevalence of depression, there remains a large stigma in society towards depression, any mental illness and depression treatment. Furthermore, there are a number of cases that go unreported, where depression has become the norm. If this is the case, many teens won’t seek treatment because they believe their symptoms are just part of the typical stresses of school or being a teen.
Also, with a widespread judgment towards mental illness, many teens will worry what other people will think if they seek mental health care. They keep their symptoms silent and ensure that their outer appearance is casual and light. They don’t let off that there is anything wrong. Furthermore, teens are at a stage in life where social interaction is important. How they look, who they spend time with, and how they behave are all given great attention. Looking depressed may be last thing a teen wants to do among their peers. And as teens pull away from their parents, they may not share how they’re feeling with them either.
Even if a teen were suffering severely, with suicidal thoughts and the growing idea to actually end their life, they may not know where to go for mental health treatment. Although the resources might be available at school, if a teen never hears about it, he or she may not know how to access the support they might be looking for.
Lastly, if depression has been a part of a teen’s life for many years, he or she may not believe that treatment will help. If they have lived with depression for many years, they may think what could possibly work for them. Along with this, a teen may not want to entertain the idea of depression treatment or psychotropic medication.
The four obstacles that keep depressed teens from seeking treatment are:
- Teens will worry what other people will think if they seek mental health care.
- Teens believe their symptoms are just part of the typical stresses of school or being a teen.
- Teens don’t know where to go for mental health treatment
- Teens believe that treatment won’t help.
Of course, this list may not be complete. If you are a parent of a teen of whom you suspect mental health symptoms, don’t hesitate to take them to a professional. An assessment for depression and having an accurate diagnosis can lead proper depression treatment.
If a teen can find their way past these obstacles, treatment for depression works. The right medication combined with therapy can stabilize a teen’s mood. Over time, he or she can return to a healthy level of functioning at school, home, and work.
The National Institute of Mental Health. “Depression and High School Students”. Retrieved on June 5, 2014 from: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-and-high-school-students/index.shtml