Coping with Depression
When we are young, we are taught to take care of our bodies so that our health is maintained and our body can function in its most optimal way. We are told to rest, drink water, eat healthy, and stay active. If we are informed about this since childhood by our loved ones, why are we told that it's “just a phase” when we feel like our worlds are falling apart? Why are we told that we are ‘seeking attention’ from peers or adults when discussing our mental health? Although mental health affects a wide majority of individuals worldwide, it is certainly not discussed or even acknowledged as it should be. One of the more common mental disorders, namely depression, globally affects more than 264 million people of all ages according to the World Health Organization. 1
What is depression?
By: Ara Kim
Now, to understand how you can support someone you love - or even yourself - who you think is suffering from depression, or has been clinically diagnosed with the same, it is important to understand the concept in itself. This begs the question: what is depression? As reported by the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a common and very serious mental illness that negatively impacts the way that someone thinks and acts. Depression can cause someone to feel sad and/or lose interest in activities that they previously enjoyed. There are many forms of depression, and a vast spectrum of the same where in it may vary from mild to severe. 2
As a teenager in this day and age, the circumstances and responsibilities that we have to face increase as we get older. We have to balance our academics, social life, and other outside responsibilities. Added to that, in our adolescence there are numerous factors in our day to day life that can affect our mental health tremendously. These may vary from failing your classes, falling out with friends, changing hormones, or to trouble at home. The way that we function and the normailites that we have - like the influence of social media in our lives, can become very toxic and unhealthy very fast. When you are feeling depressed, you may feel alone and be of the opinion that no one understands how you feel. On the contrary, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Depression is far more common than one may think: especially amongst the younger generations.5
As stated in a report by the American Psychological Association, cultural trends majorly contribute to an increase in mood disorders, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, especially since the mid-2000s. It has also been reported that they have had a larger impact on younger people. Many affected teens may feel that there are no ways to improve their mental health and make their lives more functional and less painful, but that is not true. 3
Ways that you can deal with depression as a teenager
Social media balancing
Social media, depending on an individual’s habits, can heavily influence their lifestyle; without them realizing the same. Social media typically enables you to compare yourself to others and set unrealistic standards which may cause serious self image and confidence issues. Try to take a break from social media by adopting a mini social media cleanse! This can benefit your health and make you feel refreshed! If a social media cleanse is not for you, then you can try to balance the amount of time you spend online.
Cutting toxic relationships
Take a moment to reflect on your current relationships, both platonic and romantic and think about what is best for you. Are you happy in this friendship or relationship? Does communicating with the other person feel like a chore or a breath of fresh air? Keep in mind that you should always do what is best for you and thinking about yourself is not selfish.
Therapy and other support methods
Therapy is always a good way of combating your mental health concerns. There is unfortunately still a stigma on multiple methods of treating mental disorders like therapy or medication, but we cannot possibly stress enough on how vital it can be, depending on the person. If therapy is too costly or you are too uncomfortable or generally not keen on the idea of talking to a professional, there are still other ways that are available to you! You can either talk to someone you trust about your feelings like an adult, parent, or friend. If you wish to stay anonymous you can contact anonymous hotlines (scroll down for easy access).
Ways to help a friend struggling with depression
Bonding with friends and maintaining your social life is vital as a person in this society. We can create memories that last a lifetime and friendships that last decades. Like in any healthy friendship, we should look out for each other. When someone you know and love is feeling down or showing symptoms of depression, it is important that you reach out and or are there for them in those hard times.
Be there for them
Simply texting, calling, or even leaving a message can change your loved one’s day. Those who struggle with depression would love to be reached out to and checked in on, even when they are socially isolating themselves and don’t have the energy to respond, simply because it reminds them that they are loved and worthy of something. However, remember to be patient with this as they are going through a tough time and although they do care about you, it may be difficult for them to display that in these moments of hardship. It is also important to reassure them about how important they are and that they are loved no matter what very often, because you never know how much it can positively impact their day!
Ways to support a parent with depression
Although in most cases our parents are considered to be our role models or superheroes, they are still human. They experience their own hardships and have emotions of their own. There are several factors that can contribute to depression in older adults like pre existing depression and/or anxiety, loved ones passing away, or difficulty with life overall. This begs the question, how can I support my depressed parent? How can I help? Here are some ways that you can support your parent(s) during their hardships according to Good Therapy:
Respect their need for independence
Remind yourself that even with all the hard work and effort you put in in order to make their day brighter, they may feel the need to take care of themselves without any assistance and take time to recuperate on their own.
Offer love and support
By simply letting your parent(s) know that you are here for them or by spending time with them, you tend to remind them of their importance to you. For many people, both young and old, admitting that you may have a problem especially with regards to mental health is difficult, so your support will never go unappreciated.
Suggest outside support
It can be helpful to your parent(s) that they get support from a professional depending on the severity of their mental health. Even though it may be hard to express their feelings to someone that they don’t know, you never know how impactful it can be to them. As a reminder, it is important to not push it onto your parents because although you may be eager to get them the help that they need, they may not be ready for outside help just yet. 7
The stigma on depression
In today’s society and yesterday’s world, the stigma surrounding depression and mental health as a whole. In many scenarios people are gaslit into thinking that depression is the person’s own fault and is caused by their own “laziness.” It is very important to remember and realize that depression is in no way, your fault. According to an article from Verywellmind that was reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD, depression is believed to be caused because of an imbalance of important mood-regulating chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters. It is impossible for a person with depression to just will their brain to produce more neurotransmitters. There is a certain stigma surrounding depression where depression and other mental disorders is a “choice” or that it is shameful and a sign of weakness can be extremely harmful to hear to a person who is suffering from depression. Overcoming and breaking the stigma that surrounds depression is a very difficult task; maybe even impossible. 8
What can be done to at the least reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and depression? This question has a rather straightforward answer. Although it may not be easy but the best first step towards eradicating the stigma surrounding this topic is to publicize it better in the media. Publicizing that depression is a very serious illness and that it shouldn't go untreated. By portraying it better in the media, people who are unaware about the reality of depression can be better taught about the subject on both how they should react and help others but perhaps even on how to help themselves. 4
Paying for care without coverage
As of now unfortunately, depression and mental illness is a lesser talked about subject and is still considered a taboo. In order to help people who suffer from depression we need to first help by raising awareness about this subject. Receiving the proper care for your mental health is essential and vital for your recovery. Here are some options for receiving the proper care for people who currently reside in the USA.
Medicaid is a health care coverage option offered in combination by both the federal government and your state government. This option helps with lower income families or individuals in certain groups for medical care and prescriptions. Medicaid is not a normal insurance program with monthly payments and deductibles. Medicaid pays providers directly for your care and comfort. However, Low-income individuals are not the only group that can benefit from medicaid, there are also several other groups who can qualify. In addition to those who are in the Low-income group, Medicaid also covers:
Women with children under 6
Children between the ages of 6-19
Supplemental security income recipients
Young adults up to age 21 living alone
People who are over the age of 65
Those who are blind and or deaf
In addition to this, many states have what is called a “medically needy” clause where you can receive medicaid without falling under any of those categories if your state deems you to require medical treatment and you are under the threshold of the Federal Poverty Level. To find out more about medicaid click here. 9
If you are feeling depressed and or experiencing any severe symptoms please look for help from the hotlines below:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Mental Help: 1-866-298-0489
If you feel more comfortable using a text-based hotline for support, you can chat or text with a depression hotline such as:
Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741
IMALIVE.org: Click the chat now box to be connected with a volunteer.
Lifeline Crisis Chat (suicidepreventionlifeline.org): Click the chat now box to speak to a helpline representative.
Trevor Project Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
Child Help USA Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
Boys and Girls Town National Hotline: 1-800-488-3000
Remember, you are NOT alone
Depression. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression. Accessed February 23, 2021.
What Is Depression? https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression. Accessed February 23, 2021.
Melinda. Dealing with Teen Depression. HelpGuide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/teenagers-guide-to-depression.htm. Accessed February 23, 2021.
Wolpert L. Stigma of depression – a personal view. OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/bmb/article/57/1/221/301582. Published March 1, 2001. Accessed February 23, 2021.
Brueck H. Depression among Gen Z is skyrocketing - a troubling mental-health trend that could affect the rest of their lives. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/depression-rates-by-age-young-people-2019-3. Published March 21, 2019. Accessed February 23, 2021.
Raypole C. How to Help a Depressed Friend: 15 Do's and Don'ts. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-help-a-depressed-friend. Published May 29, 2019. Accessed February 23, 2021.
Gagnon Cby CM. How to Help an Aging Parent with Depression. GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/how-to-help-an-aging-parent-with-depression-1020154. Published December 26, 2019. Accessed February 23, 2021.
Schimelpfening N. Is It Your Fault That You're Depressed? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/is-it-my-fault-that-im-depressed-1066597. Published March 22, 2020. Accessed February 23, 2021.
How to Qualify For Medicaid and CHIP Health Care Coverage. HealthCare.gov. https://www.healthcare.gov/medicaid-chip/getting-medicaid-chip/#howmed. Accessed February 23, 2021.