Depression often overlooked in today’s youth

Depression+

Allison Kruse (Photo Illustration)

Depression

Losing a boyfriend or girlfriend, getting a dent in your car, or breaking your new iPhone: these are things high school students may frequently take far too seriously. Unfortunately, there are bigger issues haunting the halls of high schools everywhere– issues that are overlooked, not taken seriously, and even branded as pathetic cries for attention.

Depression and anxiety are prevalent in youths today. “At any given time, one in five students will suffer from depression,” says SHS Psychologist Servio Carroll. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of depression, anxiety, and self harm is often dismissed by a student’s peers. Much like any other illness, depression and anxiety are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, and often cannot be helped without significant assistance. Still, when high school students suffer from depression or anxiety, they’re frequently told to “suck it up” or “get over it.”

Now, we don’t go telling patients suffering from cancer or cystic fibrosis to “get over it.” So why don’t many high school students perceive depression and anxiety with the gravity that these mental issues actually have?

These issues can range from acute to severe, though when they are ignored and downplayed while still minor issues, they can quickly escalate.

Sheridan High School is no exception; it has its fill of students suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that aren’t often taken seriously by their peers. When coping with a mental weight as serious as depression or anxiety, the last thing teenagers need is their peers ignoring, dismissing, or even mocking them. In fact, this dismissal of these issues has even resulted in overlooking self-harm, which is a serious issue in itself.

When a student suffers from depression and anxiety, or self harms and intentionally hurts herself or himself, it is not to be taken lightly. Constant ignorance regarding these issues could result in much more devastating outcomes, including suicide, which Sheridan has seen happen to its youth in the past few years.

One thing we must understand about these issues is that getting help with them requires serious attention and consideration. When a student is told by a friend that his depression is something he should simply “get over,” this encounter will only contribute to the already uncontrollable feelings of helplessness and worthlessness.

Assisting those with depression or anxiety issues requires extreme compassion. They should be shown the kind of concern and assistance that would be shown to someone suffering from any other kind of serious illness. Self-harm in particular, which is often brushed off as some sort of cry for attention, needs to be taken very seriously. When a young person intentionally harms or mutilates himself or herself, regardless of motive, their friends and peers should be supporting and caring of this person and their condition. Whether someone who self-harms is seeking attention or not, it’s very clear that she requires the attention anyway. Self-harm is as serious an issue as anything else, and will stick with the harmer for the rest of their life– scars will remain, triggers will persist throughout their life, and they may even find an addiction having built up inside of them for the “therapy” they created by hurting themselves. It should be extremely, utterly clear why this issue is nothing to be overlooked under any circumstances, and should be helped as soon as possible.

Anxiety can be equally as important in a youth’s life, particularly interrupting their focus and ability to be productive. When an anxiety attack strikes, it’s impossible to know what will come of it, and even worse, when it ends. As a result of this, anxiety attacks need to be recognized as a serious issue and never looked upon as just an “excuse” to get out of an activity or job. Anxiety attacks can be terrifying and paralyzing to the victim, and are often very difficult to cope with during. Those who have friends or even acquaintances with anxiety issues should strive to be supportive and understanding of their friends with these issues; anxiety attacks can be induced by nothing at all, but they can also be triggered by anything, so a little cruelty to someone suffering from anxiety can go a long way.

There is no level of depression, anxiety, or self-harm that can be simply overlooked. Each of these issues leaves a very low tolerance for ignorance from peers, and can be deadly if brushed off or dismissed. Friends and family should be as supportive as possible– nobody’s asking you to fix the problem, of course, but even just checking in on those struggling with these issues or talking with them and expressing consideration can be extremely helpful. Offer to be there if they need someone to vent to, or take care of them during an anxiety attack if they would like you to, and urge them to seek professional help if you find their issues becoming overwhelming and a true danger to themselves. These issues can be a lot for a teenager to cope with alone, and every little bit of help makes a difference, whether it be becoming involved extremely and assisting the student in every way, or simply acknowledging that their issues are nothing to be undermined– these issues are serious, they’re real, and they’re not to be ignored.