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I used to have a friend called Bonike, even though we have lost contact, I still remember her for her mood swings. While growing up, I saw her as a strange fellow, one minute she talks to you and the next minute like a snail, she is in her shell. She goes into a low mood which affects her thoughts, feelings, behavior, and her whole sense of well-being. Bonike was used to frowning and that was like her identity. Could she be faced with challenges at home? When I asked why people often say that she is possessed and so I got so scared of her.

Certain situations in a child’s background may predispose him or her toward having depression. Trauma, abuse, alcoholism or substance abuse in the home may tip off a genetic tendency to depression, either at the time or many years later.

It is true that a child may not be able to articulate what he or she is feeling, hence the  importance to teach your children ’feeling words’from an early age because it first appears during the late teens. This article will dwell on teen depression. Many a time, these teenagers have no idea what they are into and this makes their case worse than the depression found in most adults

Depression is a medical condition in which a person feels very sad and anxious…and without hope. Studies have shown that it affects how a person feels, thinks and acts; negatively, usually.

People who have survived it would tell you it’s like losing your mind, losing who you are;  stuck in a deep dark hole with no way out.

Let’s look at this scenario: “I thought about suicide…I didn’t really want to die. I just wanted to stop feeling this way. I’m normally a caring person, but when I’m depressed, I care little about anyone or anything.” That was Julia, way back in her teens. The only panacea to her at the time was suicide. NOT that she wanted to die; she just wanted the feeling to go. Thank God she had quick intervention. This is just one of many cases. Unfortunately, some took to that suicide.

One would wonder what it is that brings about depression in the first place. People, teenagers in this case, don’t just fall into it. There is always a cause. The cause could be physical. What do I mean? The Genetic factor is one. A young person has a lineage of depressed adults, or adults who, once upon a time, were victims-fortunate or unfortunate. You have a mother or uncle somewhere always falling in and out of depression, and people expect you not to toe the line. How?

Another physical factor could be the changing hormone levels experienced by these teenagers, with no one paying them enough attention. This hormonal imbalance brings about, mood swings, insomnia, aggression, irritability and depression! Abuse of substance as practiced by some of these teenagers have also showed to be as a result of depression

The stress factor is another cause of depression in teenagers.  I read somewhere that “while a little stress can be healthy, chronic or excessive stress can be physically and psychologically harmful, sometimes to the point of plunging a susceptible, or a biological vulnerable teen into depression”. So many teenagers I know have fallen prey to depression as they are unable to maintain a psychological front at the separation or divorce of parents; at the loss of a loved one; after a sexual abuse, etc.

The symptoms are not hidden to the observant. Some teenagers react to depression by gaining or losing weight: this is dependent on their increased or decreased appetite levels, or deep thinking, usually about nothing. Some experience changes in their sleep patterns. When you see a teenager who is usually an extrovert begin to socially withdraw, there is an 80% chance that they are depressed. They usually have concentration issues; not remembering even the easiest things or most current happenings. It is most definitely depression when these symptoms run into weeks.

In the near future, we will be talking about how to deal with this depression in your teen, as a parent. We’ll also look at how these depressed ones can help themselves, either to come out of it, or to avoid falling into it.

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