Depression is becoming more and more prevalent in our society and is now affecting people at a younger and younger age.
Over the past few weeks, several people have decided to take their own lives.
it is heartbreaking for their parents and loved ones, but also devastating for their mates. Those close to these people often feel guilt, shame and blame, believing that they should have known, seen, or done something to prevent this horrible event.
As a society, we all feel the same way. But what can we do?
Feeling sad, upset and even ‘down’ is normal
It is just an emotion, like being happy or angry or annoyed when life happens. It is how we react that is important.
Depression can occur in our lives when we perceive that everything always goes wrong for us. Or it may be the result of a change in circumstances or just a reaction to normal life changes.
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Are our teenagers at risk?
For teenagers, their future is ahead of them. One teenager is ‘busting and ready to take on the world, has lots of friends, is good at everything, while another teenager is feeling terrified.
Perhaps mum and dad are fighting, his/her girlfriend/boyfriend has found another partner; he/she feels rejected, maybe friends are laughing; no one to talk to; no one understands or cares; feels like its all their fault.
Add in the stress and pressure of exams, and the unsure teenager feels overwhelmed by everything that is happening.
When this teenager looks around and sees his friends enjoying and excited by the challenges in front of them, the uncertainty, anxiety, stress and worry they are feeling can create a downward spiral, plunging the teenager into a dark bottomless pit.
Then, the smallest negative event can easily escalate into a life changing decision. It may be drugs, alcohol, or worse – but the reason is to numb the pain to be able to cope with the feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Living can be stressful
For adults you can apply this scenario to any situation you like: Life events such as getting married, having a baby, changing jobs, kids leaving home, or traumatic events like being robbed, car accidents, being made redundant, losing money, a home or a loved one.
We have all the ingredients for potentially becoming over anxious, overwhelmed, and unable to cope, and depression soon follows. We all need to be aware of the people around us and genuinely be asking “Are you OK?’
Especially teachers, as they see our kids the most. Often bad behaviour is a mask for ‘I’m not coping.’
How do you break the cycle?
Touch and connect. Human contact is essential; a hand on a shoulder, a pat on the back, a hug.
Humans need to feel love and acceptance from others. When we don’t it’s painful. Studies by neuroscientists tell us our brains respond to rejection, or lack on connection, by experiencing physical pain.
So rejection, isolation doesn’t just hurt like a broken heart; your brain feels it like a broken leg.
Label the negative feelings. Encourage the person to verbalise how they feel. Once you name the feeling, you take ownership, and the hold on you is lessened.
Ask the person to think about what he/she is grateful for. Just trying to look, releases ‘dopamine’ and serotonin, both neurotransmitters in your brain that works like an antidepressant – they are the happy drugs and work like prozac, without the side affects. The more you look for or feel gratitude the better you will feel.
Make a ‘good enough’ decision. Stop aiming for perfect, your best is always good enough.
If you or anyone you know is suffering my depression, anxiety, trauma or any related issue, phone Steve or Joslyn at Transformations Coaching and Hypnotherapy on 1300 645 354 and book a free 30 minute counselling session. There are solutions.
- For urgent assistance, call LifeLine on 13 14 11 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.