Walking Blue: Teen depression deserves more academic attention

By: Malcolm Musoni

If I had it my way, mental health awareness would be implemented and taught starting at an elementary level the same way that sex ed is. My argument makes sense when you look at recent reports from the National Institute of Mental Health reporting that a staggering 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder.

Out of those 11 percent, very few are (understandably) able to get help. There’s this stigma behind depression that has been fueled by society’s unwillingness to treat it as a medical condition. Depression is as much of a medical condition as those who have diabetes or tumors on their livers. There’s a myth that it’s impossible for teens to become depressed and whatever they are going through is just a phase and their own creation. I’m here as someone who suffers from depression to tell you that it is not a myth, and it is in fact possible for a teen to become depressed. I’m living it.

In 9th grade my mom got sick and that was when things started to change for me. My mom who was my best friend and primary caregiver although my parents were together was all the sudden sick and needed to be taken care of.

That rocked my core. From then on, I started to just isolate myself and felt unworthy of any company. It was me, myself and I. There was a mix of the upcoming high school blues and just my growing distaste for other people. I went through this until junior year not really telling anyone what exactly was going on.

I didn’t feel like it mattered. I didn’t know what was going on. Things started to become weird within my own self, and I found myself self medicating and just trying to get through the day and just make sure no one knew that I was struggling. I eventually ended up telling my parents and being prescribed medication and took some steps to become a better me. A me that I had no problem looking at in the mirror. I stopped taking the medication now because I feel like it’s manageable to a certain extent, and I don’t like the idea of having to rely on a pill just to be happy. It’s foreign territory for me, but now, there are people who know and have taken the time to validate my feelings and let me know that they are there for me.

When someone is going through depression, the invalidation of one’s feelings when they are going through this can lead one to take their own life. We stop invalidating feelings once we actually are able to understand what is going on. The only way for that to happen is education for the youth and for the parents as well.

There needs to be the proper steps in line. Children spending all day in their rooms doesn’t mean that they hate their parents and it’s OK to just pass it off as teen angst. Isolation along with irritability, lack of energy and difficulty sleeping are some of the symptoms for depression. When these symptoms are ignored, we see a (preventable) rise in depression-caused suicides. You can look at recent studies, and even now, record numbers of college freshmen have reported feeling depressed. This isn’t something that they hit after walking onto the grounds of college. In most cases, they carried it on from high school when it went undiagnosed.

I believe once and for all, it’s high time we rise together to fight depression among our friends. If you are suffering from depression and or suicidal thoughts, feel free to call the national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255 and talk to someone you trust. Let them know if you are feeling down, and they will be there for you.

If you need an ear, I’m always there. Best way to contact me is via twitter (@fijiwatergod) or my email.  Don’t be afraid to get help or say you need it. If you know someone who is depressed and they have let you know, do everything in your power to help them and make sure they know you care. The worst thing you can do to someone who is suffering from depression is to abandon him or her. You have a responsibility to be there now and to not give up.

Together, we as classmates can fight this and be there for one another.

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