by

December 5, 2022

 

Loneliness

While being around other people, even ones that you may have a close bond with, it is still possible to have immense feelings of loneliness and the inability to feel as though one fits in. Therefore, whatever environment someone may be in, the feelings of loneliness can still be present within them. These intense feelings of loneliness are also extremely common among teenagers in today’s society, which can result in self-isolation as well as depression. 

Throughout many studies, there appeared to be a few common themes seen among teenagers that correlate their loneliness with depression. The results from these studies show four themes, consisting of one’s withdrawal from society based on their poor mental health, the “non-disclosure of depression contributing to social distance,” the desire for one to connect with others but being unable to do so, and lastly the “paradoxes of loneliness and depression” (Achterbergh). These results show that the teenagers who are struggling with loneliness and depression tend to act in similar ways where they disengage with society and those around them, leading to the worsening of their depression (Achterbergh). 

Although loneliness is a complex topic in general, it is important for the people that do not experience these levels of loneliness and depression to put in the effort to understand and support those that may be dealing with issues such as these. As people grow and mature, their minds can change just as much as their bodies do which can be incredibly overwhelming for anyone, regardless of their age (Belhumeur). Therefore, it is crucial to support those around you since the state of one’s mental health can never be determined just by looking at someone and those dealing with loneliness and depression often hide their mental illnesses behind a smile.

The feeling of immense loneliness is something that no one should go through, let alone by themselves. However, it is not always easy to branch out and ask someone for help when one is struggling, which is why it is crucial to spread awareness of the many aspects of mental health, whether good or bad. By doing so this can help people that are dealing with depression and loneliness, possibly convincing one to get the help that they need in regards to their own mental health. 

Works Cited

Achterbergh, L., Pitman, A., Birken, M. et al. “The experience of loneliness among young people with depression:” a qualitative meta-synthesis of the literature. BMC Psychiatry 20, 415 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-020-02818-3 

Belhumeur, Lorry Leigh, et al. “Understanding Teen Loneliness and Social Isolation.” Western  Youth Services (WYS), 10 July 2018, https://www.westernyouthservices.org/loneliness-isolation/#.


Covid-19 Creating Anxiety and Depression

When Covid-19 began no one thought it would last this long. Or that is what I thought. I read this article, “I Felt Like I Was Suffocating” which gives an insight into many teens and their lives of remote learning, lock-downs, and the pandemic its self increasing anxiety and depression among teens. Before the pandemics, people’s lives were busy and able to socialize. Most days grew longer and lonely for many teens around the world. Many schools have been one of the main supports for the students as they attend school online. There are staff members that are available to email or set up a zoom meeting to have emotional support.

One teen said,”I felt like I was trapped my own house and everyone was far away.” Another said, “It’s sad and somewhat lonely.”

It is hitting us the hardest as we sit behind a computer all day. The social isolation of the pandemic has taken a metal toll on each and every American. Besides failing so many challenges there is always better days ahead.


Why children shouldn’t be expected to save the whole world

(Or why child protests ain’t really the best)

The fact that children are protesting is not a problem, per se. The real issue comes in two parts: That adults aren’t, and that nothing is changing. The real issue comes in the fact that children have to be protesting, that this generation is so thoroughly disillusioned by the future that they can no longer be and act as children. The real issue is that children are exposed to so much stress all the time.

I care about this issue because I am a child, and I am stressed and worried and damn near hopeless about the future. I wish I did not have to be, but the facts are that the climate is being wrecked, facism is on the rise, the wage gap is becoming fully unsurmountable, and so, so, so many other things are all happening at once. How can we not protest? 

Children are impacted by this issue the most. On the surface level, the protests themselves take them out of school, halting their learning, possibly lowering their grades, thus making school a little harder and a little more stressful. But digging deeper, the need to protest, the constant stress of knowing that you should be out there doing something is driving more and more children to drugs, and to getting depression or anxiety. The future is scary, and unlike most children’s fear of growing up, we have evidence to back us up.

Depression is on the rise in teens. But why? According to US News & World Report, “this generation knows all too well the fear of terrorism. Whether it be a lone shooter or mass terrorist attack, our nation’s youth have come to know and live with violence in their lives.” This is just one of the reasons, others including a lack of sleep, overstimulation, and other uncertain times, but the fact that even this exists is madness. Children live in fear of random violence in the US, and so we protest. We protest Parkland, we remember columbine, and we march for our lives. “I should be writing my college essay, not my will”. (Washington Post). And this is just one of the so, so many issues facing youth today. And yet, things haven’t changed. “There are a number of states where new measures are being discussed or debated, but few have signed any such measures into law.” (ABC News). Only 4 states have passed anything. Florida, where Parkland occurred, Oregon and Washington, both of them liberal pacific northwest states which have had 5 and 14 mass shootings in the last 20 years respectively, and Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union. The rest are either still debating, or not doing anything at all. Its disillusioning to see all these people protest, and then nothing happens. Why must children protest for their own lives and then be ignored? Why can people not realize that the only acceptable amount of children shot to death at school is ZERO? Other people need to talk, people with more pull, more resources, more influence than children. Other people need to speak up and say that none of us should be dying. None.

The fact that this is a fairly new problem means there really haven’t been any solutions attempted on the macro scale. These problems, some new like climate change, and some old like facism, are all happening at once, and we can know about all of it due to the widespread info pile that is the internet. On smaller scales, the general concept of mental health days, trying to limit your exposure to the news, and other such things have been suggested, but there’s not been a coordinated effort to limit the amount of stress children are under.

My idea for a solution would just be getting people to realize how much, truly how much stress kids are under these days. School steals hours upon hours of your day, sometimes more than a standard workday if you include homework. Kids are getting less sleep, and then on top of those the whole world is slowly dying and social progress is being rolled back at an ever-increasing rate. Getting people to realize this, and then possibly trying to reduce it in the ways we can, by limiting exposure to news & lessening homework amounts, could honestly do wonders.

More research I would need to do to further my understanding of this topic would be to just read more news about child protests in all areas of protest, and to look at the change in laws both locally and worldwide to see if I can form a correlation between the protests and actual change.

Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments below 🙂


A Way to Combat Depression

There are many ways that have come up to help address depression. For example, you can exercise regularly, take time off social media, or get more sleep. One of the other ways to combat depression that caught my eye in the article is making strong relationships. It got me thinking about what makes a strong relationship. For me, hugging is big part of developing a strong relationship with someone else. I believe that hugging can be a great way to help people combat depression.

On November 21st of every year its National Hugging Day. In Los Angeles last year there was an entire event to set a record for the largest group hug. Hugs do a lot of good things for us. One, hugging causes the brain to release oxytocin which can help improve the bond between multiple people. It has also been proven to reduce depression and anxiety. As well as oxytocin, dopamine is released to the brain when hugging. Dopamine helps with raising levels of happiness which could help with depression because people who have this condition typically have lower levels of dopamine.

Hugs are something that should be incorporated more into our lives. They reduce stress in the one receiving the hug and the one giving the hug. Having an affectionate relationship including lots of hugs is good for your health. Studies found that women are affected greater than men by the oxytocin chemical. Hugs also keep people from closing themselves off from other people. According to Virginia Satir, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth” (Cirino, 4). Unfortunately, most people live in solitude or are too busy to think of giving a hug to another person. Another reason that people need more hugs.


Mental Health Among Youth

Suicide is the second highest leading cause of death among youth ages 14 to 25, according to a study completed by Journal of the American Medical Association. Rates for youth depression and youth sucuide are at an all time high, as rates of depression among kids ages 14 to 17 have risen more than 60% between 2009 and 2017 ( https://time.com/5550803/depression-suicide-rates-youth/ ) There is no direct link to any external sources that have led to these heightened levels. 

Although many different external sources have been correlated and linked to these elevated rates, the true cause isn’t known, which makes the crisis that much more dangerous. The longer that we aren’t aware of the source, the longer these mental health issues will manifest among youth, creating a dangerous and at times life threatening environment for adolescents. “Dramatic changes are a sign,” said Schwartz.” a psychology professional stated in a PBS news article (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/suicide-among-teens-and-young-adults-reaches-highest-level-since-2000) As of now, researches are looking for any change in youth behavior or interaction in the past decade that could be the cause of rising mental health issues and suicide levels among youth. 

Many theories have been produced, as people are becoming increasingly worried about the mental stability of adolescents. Some attribute the raised levels to social relationships, the use of smartphones, drug addiction, and external stressors. Schwartz from PBS claims that the increased mental health and siucide levels can be attributed to increased drug use and abuse. He claims that the opioid crisis may be the primary factor, as increased numbers of children are struggling with addiction and the stressors that come with it. Other studies are focusing on the differences that have come about in the past decade; the beginning of the crisis. An article from Time claims that the only drastic change among youth in the past decade has come from the use of the smartphone. (https://time.com/5550803/depression-suicide-rates-youth/) The last leading suspicion for increased mental health levels and suicide rates amoung youth is stress. More is being asked of youth than ever; they are expected to get good grades, participate in sports, wake up early, do homework late into the night, have a social life, etc. External stressors are more forceful upon youth than ever before, and this pressure and anxiety could be a leading factor in mental instability. 

Although it is clear throughout the data that actions need to be taken to improve mental stability among youth, it is difficult to do so when the true cause is not known. Many theories by psychologists and professionals have been completed, and various potential sources have been named. This being said, the only way to truly tackle the issue of mental health issues among youth is by sourcing the cause.


Motherhood and School

“What’s the point of trying?” A constant thought that roams my mind on a daily basis. Restless nights, lack of energy, worthlessness, guilt, worry, and the list goes on.

You would think, “What can she possibly be going through at such a young age?”

Let me tell you, being a mother, daughter, student and friend all in one isn’t so easy.

I began to think that the reason I felt this way was because of my postpartum depression. I thought that this was only going to be the first few months of motherhood. It became more than that when it began to interfere with my education and personal life.

My concentration got worse by the day, I couldn’t stand sitting in a chair for so long without wanting to run away. I felt people’s eyes all over me when I’d be gone for a while; it’s like this rush of anxiety would creep up on me. I wouldn’t want to return to school the next day. The days began to accumulate and my average was just getting lower by the day.

My brain wouldn’t rest just thinking about how stupid I am, that I can’t ever get or do anything right. I hit my head over and over as a punishment.I cried in the mirror frustrated at all these things going on in my head. My own family didn’t recognize me, the darkness was taking over me. I distanced myself several times, I’d be locked in my room, and I wouldn’t even come out to eat. I felt like nobody noticed the crisis I was going through, I felt like my presence didn’t matter.

I constantly thought about taking my life away, but then that’s when I would snap out of it. I couldn’t abandon the little person I gave life to. I promised I would give her the world and be the best role model there is, but how was I going to do it when I felt the demons beside me? That’s when I thought that maybe if I spoke about what I was feeling, I would get the help I need. It took me a lot to actually go to my doctor and open up about everything I was feeling. It felt unusual to have to talk about such dark emotions to someone else without having them think that you’re suicidal or delusional.

At the moment that my doctor told me that it was normal, my heart felt a relief. She prescribed me anti-depressants and had me meet with a counselor every other week. It felt nice to have somebody to talk to especially when they specialize in dealing with other people’s emotions.

I can’t say that solved all my problems, it puts like a temporary pause on everything for me. Depression and anxiety can be treated but cannot disappear, it will always be there but just know how to control it. My heart still skips a beat now and then, and my hands still fidget when I begin to feel anxious. It just motivates me to push 10x harder than the usual because life is full of obstacles that we have to learn to overcome.

Between 80 and 60 percent of students that are diagnosed with depression and anxiety are not getting treatment. Check on your students, friends, family, etc. Because you never really know what they go through.


Broken Girl

She doesn’t remember 
Broken inside the girl speaks,
She doesn’t remember the last time someone said “I love you” and really meant it,
She doesn’t remember the part of her childhood were it wasn’t rough,
She doesn’t remember the last time society just accepted everyone for who they are,
She remembers the last time she cried,She remembers it like it was yesterday,
So used to holding her feelings in
    Now her mind is immune
Her heart is hurting
Her body confused
She doesn’t remember a time something mattered to her.
Why oh why can’t she remembers

Raising awareness to Depression

The topic i chose to study is  Depression among teens.  This is important to me because I feel like a lot of people go through depression and not a lot of people know how to talk about it and help them and I kinda want people to know that there are other people who understand their pain and who can help them with it. To me, its a very important topic that should be made easier to talk about and no one should feel that there alone and can’t talk to anyone. Depression affects a lot of people in various ways some symptoms include feeling hopeless, worthless, helpless. Some people get kind of like an eating disorder where they eat too much or not enough.

According to http://suicide.org/ . Every 100 minutes a teen takes their own life. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. About 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. Only 30 percent of depressed teens are being treated for it. Female teens develop depression twice as often than men. Abused and neglected teens are especially at risk. Adolescents who suffer from chronic illnesses or other physical conditions.Teens with a family history of depression or mental illness. Between 20 to 50 percent of teens suffering from depression have a family member with depression or some other mental disorder”.    

So I don’t really believe there’s a 100% solution to depression because it happens to people various ways and not everyone’s the same. One thing that can help a lot is to raise awareness of the issue and talk to people and let them know that you care about them and your there for them.  Some ways people have attempted to address this issue is through making videos about it. A Lot of famous YouTubers address this issue and I believe for some people it can be a very helpful and effective way of discussing the topic. There are a lot of ways to go about the topic of depression and some ways work better than others. 


How bad is teen depression?

Why are more and more teenagers being diagnosed with mental illnesses such a y s depression and anxiety?

Problems at school. At school, depression may lead to poor attendance, a drop in grades, or frustration with schoolwork.
Running away. Many depressed teens run away from home or talk about running away.
Drug and alcohol abuse. Teens may use alcohol or drugs in an attempt to help with their depression.
Low self-esteem. Depression can trigger feelings of ugliness, shame, failure, and unworthiness.

How bad is depression in schools?

Why do teens run away and ask for help?

Why would teens go to drugs to try and help with depression?

“Unrealistic academic, social, or family expectations can create a strong sense of rejection and can lead to deep disappointment. When things go wrong at school or at home, teens often overreact. Many young people feel that life is not fair or that things “never go their way.” They feel “stressed out” and confused. To make matters worse, teens are bombarded by conflicting messages from parents, friends and society. Today’s teens see more of what life has to offer — both good and bad — on television, at school, in magazines and on the Internet. They are also forced to learn about the threat of AIDS, even if they are not sexually active or using drugs.”


Stress is Life!

https://youtu.be/dtvNVeTcgmY

The interview took place in Pulse High School. The audience was the students of Pulse High School and I went there because the students respect the teacher, Mr. Adamo and were not disruptive during the interview.Also, the teacher is well educated and deals with youth so he has a better understanding on stress,anxiety, or depression.The speaker was a teacher who teaches US History and economics in Pulse High School and is a Yankee fan.The quote is “Depression would be a feeling of not being able to cope with thee pressures of life”.

Hearing this quote just made me realize that depression happens because people can not deal with things that occur in life.The quote means a lot  to me because my friend went through depression after losing his uncle and could not deal with it so this quote has a great impact on my life.

Another quote that stuck out to for me from the interview was “Stress is life” and this was said by Mr. Adamo on January 2,2018.

Seeing this quote again, I see how other people see stress the same as me because i also believe that stress is life. In other words people are stressed because of things that happen in our lives. Do you agree with Mr. Adamo and me about stress being life ?

Another quote that stuck out to me was “Anxiety is the active feelings of losing control. We could screw up at much as i want  it’s not the end of the world and i would just tell be to take a deep breath ”. This surprised me because Mr. Adamo is explaining anxiety in his own words and is absolutely correct.I think Adamo had a well response to all of my questions about Anxiety, Stress, and Depression.

Photo by SodanieChea


Depression: Ignorance Is Not Bliss

Everyone knows or will know someone who is affected by depression. In fact, “Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year” (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, 2017, para 1). Despite there being a large number of Americans with depression, only one out of three people with depression actively seek treatment (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, 2017,  para 7). This reluctance to seek treatment is mostly because of the social stigma surrounding depression. Many people see mental illness as a burden, as something that should be kept hidden. Others do not understand the seriousness of depression; they think that depression is just a mood that can be easily shaken. The somber consequence of this social stigma is that many people struggling with depression are afraid to seek help. Though there are many who doubt that depression is a disease, there is substantial evidence to support that it is a disease and it is in need of more social awareness.

Depression is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, specifically a decrease in the amount of neurotransmitters. In your brain, thousands of neurons communicate with each other in order to perform daily tasks. These neurons never touch— they send chemicals back and forth to each other; These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. There are three neurotransmitters that are linked to mood: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine (Meisel, 2011, p. 42-43). Serotonin is directly linked to mood, so the more serotonin one has, the more that person’s mood improves. Dopamine controls behavior, emotion, and cognition, but it is also connected to the front of your brain, which is associated with pleasure and reward. Pleasure and reward together are what help us achieve our goals. Norepinephrine works as part of the body’s stress response, helping the hormone adrenaline to produce the “fight or flight” response. The fight-or-flight response is how the body deals with stress. It either chooses to stand and fight, or to run away. When this response happens all the time, chronic stress and/or depression can result. Since norepinephrine controls fight-or-flight, the more norepinephrine one has, the better that person can handle stress (UPMC Health Beat, 2016, para. 3,4,6). With the connections between these neurotransmitters and mood, it is clear how someone with low serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels would have a low mood all the time, have no motivation to achieve their goals, and have difficulties dealing with stress—all symptoms of depression. Evidence of chemical changes in the brain proves that depression is more serious than just a saddened mood; it shows that a person is not only mentally affected by depression, he/she is physically affected by it. In cases of sadness, depressed feelings are temporary. With depression, however, because of changes in the brain, these feelings are harder to get rid of. People who are sad for long periods of time suffer substantial losses to their value of life and further proving that depression is a very serious disease.

Scientists and suffers both have speculated on the causes of depression for years and they still have not come to a definitive answer. This is because there are many different factors that can lead  to someone becoming depressed. Many times depression is onset by a traumatic event in someone’s life. My friend, Molly, spiraled into depression after her father died: “My father died when I was in fifth grade. My physiatrists have told me that because I have alway had anxiety and it was left untreated, it spiraled into depression” (Molly, personal communication, December 12, 2017). Just like Molly’s anxiety and the death of her father contributed to her depression, many factors together combine to onset depression. Some of these factors are gender, genetic predisposition, and other illnesses. Gender plays a large part in whether someone will be affected by depression. In fact women are affected by depression more than men: “Women experience depression at twice the rate of men. This 2:1 ratio exists regardless of racial or ethnic background or economic status. The lifetime prevalence of major depression is 20-26% for women and 8-12% for men” (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, para 4). Many equate this to the fact that women have more mood swings as a result of their menstrual cycle and the shifting estrogen and progesterone (a hormone that is integral in maintaining pregnancy) levels that accompany it. Women are also prone to postpartum depression (depression after giving birth) because of plummeting hormone levels after pregnancy (Mayo Clinic, Depression in women: Understanding the gender gap, 2016, para 8,11-14). Not only does gender contribute to a person’s chances of having depression, but “research has revealed that depression runs in families and suggests that some people inherit genes that make it more likely for them to get depressed” (TeensHealth, 2015, para. 10). Illness is also a factor that contributes to depression. In fact, 25 percent of cancer patients experience depression, 50-75 percent of those with eating disorders also experience depression, and one in three heart attack victims experience depression (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, 1999-2002, para. 2). The link between these illnesses and depression is unclear, but the statistics show that having a major illness increases the chances of being diagnosed with depression. With so many factors contributing to depression, it is easy to see how so many people are affected by this disease. Since large numbers of people are affected by depression, it should be hard to ignore the impact it has on people’s lives. Yet, as a society, Americans turn away from what makes us uncomfortable. Feelings, especially feelings of sadness, have always made people uncomfortable. So how can this be fixed? If people acknowledge that it is okay to be depressed, they validate what others are feeling, and they can then use the factors that led to depression to try and combat the disease?

The many forms of depression are just as diverse as the people who are afflicted with the disease. The most common form of depression is called major depressive disorder, but other forms of depression are seasonal affective disorder, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression. These are not even all of the forms of depression, there are others like postpartum depression, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Someone who has major depressive disorder is diagnosed after a they have some of the following symptoms for two or more weeks: significant weight change, insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much), psychomotor agitation, loss of interest in usual activities, decrease in sexual drive, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, diminished ability to think or concentrate, and recurrent thoughts of death and suicide (Byck, 1992, p.55). Two other common forms of depression are seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and dysthymia. Seasonal affective disorder is when depression begins in the fall or winter and ends in the spring, following a seasonal pattern. Scientists speculate that the seasonal effect has to with the waning amount of light in the winter. Although SAD is not as common as major depressive disorder, it does affects around ten million Americans. Dysthymia is milder than major depressive disorder, but episodes last substantially longer (at least two years). Although dysthymia is not as severe as major depressive disorder, it still hinders a person’s ability to function normally and requires treatment. Bipolar disorder is an entirely different kind of depression. In bipolar disorder, a person’s mood fluctuates between extremely happy moods and extremely sad moods with periods of normal mood in between. The period of time when the person is experiencing a high mood is called mania. Mania can lead to very dangerous behavior like staying awake for days, not eating, and participating in risk-taking behavior. Bipolar disorder often requires a different treatment plan than other forms of depression as it can cause hallucinations and delusions as well as extreme moods.

There are a multitude of types of depression that affect millions of people everyday. Each form of depression comes with the same debilitating sadness but each also has its own symptoms to battle. Depression can manifest in many forms and affect all types of people. Due to this, it may be hard to tell if someone has depression. Not many people are aware of the signs and symptoms of the copious kinds of depression, so it is important that social awareness increases about all forms of depression so that people can recognize depression in others and help them to start the healing process. With more social awareness, we Americans can start to combat depression together, as a society.

Even though the symptoms of depression are often debilitating and harmful, there are many effective treatments. In order to be prescribed medication, a person must first be diagnosed with depression. A doctor diagnoses a patient by talking with him or her about symptoms and family medical history. If that person has a family history of depression and/or their symptoms are consistent with depression, he or she will be diagnosed (Wasmer Smith, 2000, p.40-41).  Molly, a senior in high school, was diagnosed with chronic major depression in 2016. This is what she says about the process of being diagnosed: “I was diagnosed by both a physiatrist and phycologist and that was through behavioral therapy” (Molly, personal communication, December 12, 2017). Like Molly, patients often have to go through many steps to be diagnosed with depression. The necessity of diagnosis by two separate medical professionals further proves the point that depression is a real disease. It is taken seriously by doctors, so it should be taken seriously by society.

Treatment for depression dates back almost as far as depression itself. Before it was known how many people really had depression and when it was extremely taboo to seek treatment, many people self medicated with alcohol. Thus there was (and still is) a clear link between alcoholism and depression. Molly said of her family: “There is a history of alcoholism in my family and that is generally what used to be the “diagnoses” for depression” (Molly, personal communication, December 12, 2017). This history shows the importance of recognizing depression in order to prevent alcoholism and other substance abuse. Today’s medication for depression is usually very effective in giving patients relief from the worst symptoms of depression, however, they often come with their own side effects. Thus, the kind of medication that works best depends on the individual and how his or her body reacts to the medication. Common kinds of medications are tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (the two most common), as well as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, stimulants, and mild tranquilizers. Tricyclic antidepressants are frequently used to treat depression and they work by increasing levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain (Meisel, 2011, p.77). These medications are able to increase the levels of these neurotransmitters by blocking their absorption (known as reuptake) back into the brain. When less reuptake happens, more neurotransmitters result. With more neurotransmitters, the symptoms of depression start to fade. The problem is that it can take a couple weeks for the medication to start to work and there are many side effects that occur before the benefits are apparent (Byck, 1992, p.59-60).  Some of these side effects are sleepiness, dizziness when standing up, constipation, dry mouth, weight gain or weight loss, excessive sweating, tremors, and decreased sex drive (Mayo Clinic, Tricyclic antidepressants and tetracyclic antidepressants, 2016, para 10,11). A concerning factor of tricyclic antidepressants is that if they are taken at high doses, they can be fatal. This is concerning when dealing with depressed patients because depression often gives patients suicidal thoughts and actions (Meisel, 2011, p.77). Suicide is a serious consequence of depression and highlights the extreme nature of depression, showing that it is more than just a feeling to ignore.

Other frequently used medications for depression are monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Monoamine oxidase is an enzyme that breaks down serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain. This medication inhibits the monoamine oxidase, causing a build up of these neurotransmitters in the brain (Mayo Clinic, Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), 2016, para. 4,5). Monoamine oxidase also has other functions in the body besides breaking down the neurotransmitters; it also plays a part in breaking down amino acids in the liver and intestines. Tyramine (an amino acid) can act like a drug when built up and can affect the heart and blood vessels. When a person taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor eats tyramine-containing foods, like beer, wine, and cheese, there is a higher likelihood that he or she will  have a dangerous increase in blood pressure (which can cause strokes and heart attacks) (Byck, 1992, p. 60-61). As a result, many patients avoid monoamine oxidase inhibitors because they require dietary restrictions.

For people with bipolar disorder, a different type of drug is needed. When people with bipolar disorder are in mania, they can experience hallucinations and/or delusions (this also occurs in psychotic depression). When this happens, patients are usually prescribed antipsychotic medications; however, they are just used as a temporary measure to insure that the person does not hurt themselves. When the hallucinations or delusions are under control, doctors often prescribe lithium as a long-term treatment option. Patients must take lithium several times a day, as it leaves the body quickly, and must get regular blood tests to insure that it does not reach a lethal concentration in the body. Not much is know about why lithium easies the symptoms of bipolar depression, but symptoms can decrease after just one week of taking it. Fortunately, it only has a few mild symptoms, such as thirst, weight gain, slight muscle tremors, and “fogginess” (Meisel, 2011, p.85). While doctors and many people rave about the wonders of  medications, many find the serious side effects intolerable. These people often turn to other forms of treatment, like psychotherapy, to try and resolve their ailments.

Psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) is when a person with depression talks to a professional who tries to help him or her find the underlying cause of the depression and teaches him or her coping skills to try and combat depression. The three main types of talk therapy are behavioral, cognitive, and intrapersonal. Doctors prescribe one over the other based on the person’s personal experiences. Behavioral therapy focuses on changing behaviors and thinking that led to the depression or make it worse (Wasmer Smith, 2000, p. 45). Cognitive therapy focuses on changing negative thought patterns so that the patient can start to have a positive view of life. When patients go to therapy, they are working with a therapist to try and break one or more negative thought patterns that are contributing to their depression. Intrapersonal therapy helps an individual to fix the toxic relationships in their lives that are contributing to their depression, and gives them the resources to work through tough relationship problems so they can live a happier life (Meisel, 2011, p.75-76). Therapy is an important and effective treatment for depression and is often prescribed before medication, if the person is not hurting themselves. Talk therapy helps a depressed person solve the emotional issues that contribute to his or her  depression. Often weeks of therapy are needed for a person to gain control of his or her depression and that depression does not go away. Rather, patients must continue to practice the tactics that they were taught in therapy in order to remain in control of their depression. Molly speaks to this personally: “I go to behavior therapy with my psychologist. it helps only when I am really honest with them, which is very hard to do” (Molly, personal communication, December 12, 2017). Molly knows that in order to get better, she needs to work hard and she needs to be honest. Recovering from depression is a lengthy process that requires hard work. Depression is not easy get rid of—it is a serious disease.

When a person with depression is in great danger of hurting him/herself, or when that person does not respond to medication, a doctor may prescribe electroconvulsive therapy. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is when a patient is given anesthesia to relax his/her muscles, and then administered small shocks to the brain to produce small seizures. These small seizures spark the production of neurotransmitters in the brain (Meisel, 2011, p. 88). Electroconvulsive therapy is controversial, because many do not feel that inducing seizures is safe. However, in actuality, electroconvulsive therapy today is safe and effective: “ECT has a 75-83% success rate in battling depression”(Hersh, 2013, para. 7). Had depression not been accepted by doctors as a legitimate disease ECT would not be approved as a treatment because of its controversial nature. It is the fact that depression is a severe disease that doctors need to address it as such with such stern treatment. It is clear that depression is not a symptom, it is a disease.

Some argue that depression itself is not a disease, it is a symptom of too much stress. Dr. Kelly Brogan MD, a published psychiatrist who studied at both Cornell and MIT, argues just that, “Dr. Brogan suggests that depression is not a brain disorder, the lack of one neurochemical or another, or a genetic illness. It’s an inflammatory condition which is the body’s adaptive response to stress, known as the cytokine theory of depression. The state of depression is a manifestation of irregularities in a body that can start far away from the brain and have nothing to do with chemical balances in it”(Hampton, 2016, para 7). This argument however, is flawed. There have been countless studies done to show that depression is connected to the amount of neurochemicals in the brain and can be onset by genetic predisposition. In addition, if depression is not related to neurochemicals in the brain then patients would not find relief from medications that target such neurochemicals but many patients, like Molly, do. Molly said, “I take Zoloft, a serotonin reuptake inhibitor. It makes my ups and downs more manageable and makes things seem better. It allows me to have enough motivation to move myself”(Molly, personal communication, December 12, 2017). The very fact that Molly and others have had success with medication disproves the theory that depression is just a symptom of stress and not a result of neurochemicals in the brain.

There is substantial evidence that proves that more social awareness is needed about the disease that is depression. Numerous people are affected by depression, but most are hesitant to tell people about their struggles with the disease. This is because there is a popular belief that mental illness is a sign of weakness. This forces those with depression to hide their symptoms. Without treatment a person is at risk of hurting themselves and others. However, with treatment, a depressed person can gain his or her life back. These treatments are not a cure or a quick fix. They require time and hard work in order to figure out the treatment plan that works best. The complexity of the symptoms and treatments for depression prove the complexity of the disease; they prove that depression is indeed a disease. It is not something that is easily treated and not something that one can easily get rid of. If someone seems to be struggling with depression, do not be afraid to let that person know you are there to support them. Having someone understand could be the first step towards healing. Molly wants others to know that “people with depression are doing their absolute best. They are very happy for the most part, from what you can see. Depression is not just downs, it’s extreme highs and lows. It makes it hard to get up in the morning and just causes all sorts of thoughts that we know are wrong but we can’t stop. We are not trying to be annoying” (Molly, personal communication, December 12, 2017).

Works Cited

Byck, M.D, R., Mello, Ph.D, N., & Mendelson, M.D, J. (1992). Treating Mental Illness

(pp. 53-65). New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers.

Depression in women: Understanding the gender gap (2016, June 16). In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved

December 7, 2017, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-20047725

Depression Statistics (n.d.). In Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Retrieved December 5,

2017, from

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_statistics_depression

Hampton, D. (2016, April 24). Depression is a Symptom, Not a Disease. In The Best Brain

Possible. Retrieved December 17, 2017, from https://www.thebestbrainpossible.com/depression-is-not-a-brain-disorder/

Hersh, J. (2013, June 7). TMS or ECT? A Mental Health Consumer Weighs the Options. In

Psychology Today . Retrieved December 17, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/struck-living/201306/tms-or-ect-mental-health-consumer-weighs-the-options

How Brain Chemicals Influence Mood and Health (2016, September 4). In UPMC Health Beat.

Retrieved December 5, 2017, from http://share.upmc.com/2016/09/about-brain-chemicals/

 

Meisel, A. (2011). Investigating Depression and Bipolar Disorder: Real Facts for Real Lives

(pp. 40-93). Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc.

Molly.(2017, December, 12).Personal interview.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) (2016, June 8). In Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 10,

2017, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/maois/art-20043992

TeensHealth. (2004, July 22). Depression. In SIRS Discoverer. Retrieved from SIRS Discoverer.

Tricyclic antidepressants and tetracyclic antidepressants (2016, June 8). In Mayo Clinic.

Retrieved December 10, 2017, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/antidepressants/art-20046983

Wasmer Smith, L. (2000). Depression: What it is, How to beat it (pp. 6-47). Berkeley Heights,

NJ: Enslow Publishers, Inc.


Researching Depression

My Research on Depression

To start my research off I searched “Depression” in the databases that the library gives us. After browsing through many articles I settled on an article about the links between inflammation and depression. At first my essay topic was going to be how depression affects a person. While reading this article about inflammation I realized that depression affects the body in countless ways and that I may need to narrow my topic in order to fit my information into an essay. This article also started to talk about treatments for depression which led me to think that I should include treatments in my essay.

The next article that I read talked about how depression is caused by an having too few neurotransmitters in the brain. It also talked about the symptoms of depression and some of the causes. The fact that depression was caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters peaked my interest and led me to more research in how medication restores this imbalance. Then I read some books about treatments for depression. They highlighted how medication restored the imbalance of neurotransmitters but also show how the medications can have negative side effects. This brought me to the question about whether or not medications are worth it if you can control the depression with therapy. I still need to do further research on this. Perhaps I will get a personal story.

The books that I read also informed me that there are many different kinds of depression. This interested me about why depression affects different people in different ways. One of the books gave me more information to partially answer that question by showing the link between hormones and depression. With this more in-depth information, I was able to narrow down my topic to how depression and its treatments affect a person neurologically and chemically.

My next article alerted me to a new form of depression I had previously not heard of, Psychotic Depression. It also talked about how depression can co-occur with other diseases and sometimes interact with these diseases. These diseases can get worse when the person also has depression. This interests me and so I would like to do more research as to why depression worsens other diseases.

Throughout my research process, my topic has evolved into a more direct subject. My research has answered many questions but it has lead to just as many new questions for me to research. I hope to continue to refine my topic through more research.


Depression: How it affects a person

For my research project I am researching how depression affects a person. I intend to look into both the emotional and physical effects. This topic interested me because I read Shadows in the Sun by Gayathri Ramprasad. In the book Gayathri tells the story of her struggle with depression and how she overcomes it. She also talks about the social stigma surrounding mental illness in India. Her story interested me very much a made me want to learn more about depression. Many people do not understand the seriousness of depression and do not acknowledge it as a legitimate disease. By researching depression I hope to learn more about the seriousness of depression as well as how to help people with depression. I also hope to inform the public about it so that we can all take depression seriously.


Mental Health Issues in today’s Youth

I often will wonder why it is that mental health is still such a prevalent issue. In Utah, the leading cause of death for teenagers is suicide. This has been a statistic for some time now, and yet, there is little that we are doing to help it. Or at least that’s how I feel. “Adolescent depression is increasing at an alarming rate. Recent surveys indicate that as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression.”  Utah has some of the highest ranking suicide rates in the US. “Developmentally, the years between childhood and adulthood represent a critical period of transition and significant cognitive, mental, emotional, and social change. ”

The statistics show that mental health cases still occur often, and still play an important role in today’s youth. Most people between 12-17 personally know someone (or multiple people) who have taken their own lives. It is something that people don’t like to talk about, which is for good reason, but if we don’t talk about it then it won’t be fixed. If the adults won’t do anything then we should. We should have conversations about it, and try to make a more stress free enviorment for us to function in, one that can make it easier to find happiness in difficult times.


“Kill Yourself”

On average in the U.S. 121 people die by suicide every single day making suicide the 10th leading cause of death. NFSP reports a steady incline in the suicide rate and mental illness is at an all time high – whether that be because professionals diagnose better, people are getting more ill, or people feel more comfortable discussing issues. Suicide and its various causes are all on the forefront of society and are an issue in dire need of attention. Yet, there has been no significant change. In fact, the statistics show that the problem is worsening. So what is the problem?
Walking down the halls at school, scrolling through social media, even hanging out with friends, we are bombarded with a culture desensitized to mental illness. Kill yourself jokes run rampant through just about any video’s comment section online. Cruel personal jokes flood school hallways.  Yet those participating are also the ones most affected by the problem. The majority of people using the internet are millennials and plurals which have the highest suicide rates compared to any other generation.  While no society is condoning the nature of the jokes, there isn’t much to stop the jokes either. People argue that taking a “kill yourself” joke – or something of the like – serious is a waste of time. It essentially doesn’t matter anymore.

So why has such a serious problem become fodder for humor on the internet by those who are most affected? I would dare say it is the culture these people experience. Our culture only recently has brought discussions about mental health to the attention of larger society, but in the past mental institutions were essentially places to separate the mentally able from the others. Mental institutions in the U.S. in the 1950s were infamous for institutionalizing and holding people after they were healthy as well as grouping crime, mental illness, and taboo into one category. The mentally ill were those who were less than the average citizen. Fast forward to today, a complaint of many on the internet is that they have been told their problems aren’t valid and that happiness is a choice. It comes down to the fact that society still doesn’t see mentally ill as people who need help. They have taken the small step up from being subhuman to being over dramatic.

On top of these societal stigmas, the funding for research on mental health severely lacks the backing that more concrete illnesses such as cancer have procured. Mental illness spending has even seen budget cuts on multiple occasions such as the 2008 recession.  So as confirmation to stigma, mental illness is not a major priority of society. Instead, society more looks to have the problem fixed just whenever. For a generation of insecure and mentally ill, the combination of low levels of action and stigma create an even more negative vision of themselves and the prospects of getting respect for their problems.

In response, young generations turn to the internet where they indulge in humor and leisure. As time passes, people begin to realize how everyone has had similar experiences surrounding mental health and connect over it. Yet, as the generation is acutely aware of how public the internet is, and how openness is looked down upon, the way of joking about their problems became more common. Thus, relatable became funny and with it mental health was the butt of the joke. However, not all is bad in this situation. While the young generations may feel overly comfortable in joking about such grave matters, they also engage in more conversations about the problem than ever before and the controversial nature of the jokes open the opportunity for debate and discussion of morals and standards relating to the subject matter. However, either good or bad, an awareness of how words define our beliefs or how words are interpreted play an important role in society’s issues.

https://www.youthvoices.live/tag/depression/