By: Sophie Bronsil
Even though many don’t understand what teenagers have to be depressed about, the rates of depression have increased shockingly since past centuries. According to Cathy Cassinos-Carr of Sacramento Magazine, there are “five times as many high school and college students reported experiencing mental health issues in 2007 than did same-age youth during the Great Depression” (Cassinos-Carr, 2015). How is it possible that there is more depression currently than during one of the most important economic crises? Welcome to the 21st century.
One of the reasons for an increase of depression is clear: it is everywhere, turn around and you’ll see an advertisement with the face of a perfect woman on it. Turn to the other side and you will see a magazine with a woman in a bathing suit with an abnormally perfect body. The idea of perfection is everywhere. Now a days, society makes wealth, looks and status the most important part of people’s everyday lives.
The education teenagers receive today has also changed enormously. Parents live with the pressure of making sure their children fit into society. They want their children to be part of the “perfect kids” they see all around them in the media. These many pressures the parents face largely affect their children. They feel it to. Children are educated to be prototypical figures of an unreal world; they aren’t educated with “real-world coping skills” (Cassinos-Carr, 2015), like teenagers in the past were. This leads to pressure towards being the best. As studies have stated, competition now a days has increased compared to the past. Children feel more pressure to excel in everything they do (parental pressure largely being part of this).
Researchers, McMahon and Matthew Soulier, M.D., a UC Davis psychiatrist, explain other reasons for teenage depression, increased pressure to excel, as mentioned before. Adolescents are in competition everywhere they go. They have to face other people that have also been educated to be their best, therefore raising the level of competition teenagers confront. Technological overstimulation has increased in the past decade. Teenagers now are exposed to content through the Internet, which was not a problem before. Being able to see pornography or violent images online so easily may distort the personal identity teenagers are trying to evolve. While adolescents mature, and they are beginning to convert in to an independent person, they use online information or images to decide who they want to become. Depending on what they find on the Internet they might find they are set on a wrong path, eventually finding out too late that their life is not what they want.
Finally, Information overload is overwhelming for most teenagers. Having so many comments, and watching people’s lives on social networks, while at the same time reading and watching the news and happenings all over the world is a lot. This complex information is bound to create confusion and stress and sometimes, not knowing how to handle so much knowledge can lead to depression and stress. In addition, their minds are developing and have enough to worry about with school material and other daily preoccupations, so it is not even necessary to explain how staggering this is.
Though it is true that the 21st century has new inventions that make depression more common, it is not the 21st century’s fault that depression is prevalent at such high rates. Many cases of depression are caused by the same reasons that used to exist in the past. An example of this is genetic predisposition which is still a current. Also, things like traumatic events may mark a teenager’s life to the point of not being able to let go or cope appropriately. A third issue that still exists is family. Family is a common reason for depression since conflict is recurrent in families. When there isn’t conflict, something else that comes with loving your family may be death. Losing someone you love may also be a reason for depression.
Since depression has been existent for so much time, it is important to create awareness about it. Depression has a high tendency to lead to suicide and for this reason it requires immediate attention. In the United States, it was found there were 12 suicides per day and 90% of these were connected to depression (MetroEcuador, 2010). Sometimes what children need is help from their parents, or other times they may just need to know how to avoid falling in to this path. Either way it is important to talk about depression, its causes and effects. Since solutions vary from natural medicine, Western medicine, psychological counseling or doctors, it is suggested that if you, or someone you know, has depression you should get in contact with a psychologist in your area.
Cassinos-Carr, C. (2015, April 29). Health: Teen Depression. Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://www.sacmag.com/Sacramento-Magazine/May-2011/Teen-Depression/
Depresión, un mal del siglo 21. (2010, May 31). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://www.metroecuador.com.ec/archivo-guayaquil/8491-depresion-un-mal-del-siglo-21.html
Pinterest (Blog). (N.D). N.T [Image of Photograph Column], Retrieved May 08, 2015, from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/35677022021540910/