Both physicians and mental health professionals will tell you a little stress is a good thing and can be healthy. However, excessive long-term stress can be physically and psychologically harmful, which can contribute to your spiraling into a bout of depression. Some stress-related factors that have contributed to teen depression are academic overload, overly high parental expectations, social anxiety or pressure, parental divorce or separation, relationship problems, the death of a loved one, physical or sexual abuse, a serious accident, illness, or a learning disability. Depression is even more likely if the child feels rejected as a result of these issues.
Care for Your Mind and Body
Moderate to severe depression is managed with medication and counseling by a mental health professional. Sadly, illnesses both physical and mental can and do affect us all. However, you can also do what car mechanics call preventative maintenance. If you are of driving age, you know that every 3,000 miles you change the oil in your car. Every 30,000-45,000 miles you get a tune-up. Preventative maintenance (or preventive maintenance) is maintenance that is regularly performed on a piece of equipment to lessen the likelihood of it failing. Preventative maintenance is planned so that any required resources are available. What are the benefits of preventive maintenance? Equipment downtime is decreased, and the number of major repairs is reduced. Better conservation of assets and increased life expectancy of assets, thereby eliminating premature replacement of machinery and equipment.
You can also use preventative maintenance, to take reasonable measures to care for your physical and mental health. You can choose to eat meals that are more wholesome, to get sufficient sleep, and exercise regularly. Mind you; competitive sports is not wholesome exercise; it is a stress causer. Wholesome exercise is relaxing and makes you feel better afterward. This kind of exercise releases chemicals that can lift your mood, increase your energy, as well as improve your sleep.
Remember, this book and others like it are trying to offer you insights into what it is, that is, triggers and early warning signs of a depressive mood, so that you can view them with the correct outlook and create a suitable plan of action. Moreover, we encourage you to find at least one or more people that you can trust. If you have at least one friend or a mature, reasonable, rational adult, these can help you in a time of need and even warn you when they see an early warning sign that you may have missed or are ignoring. If you are a young one that likes writing, keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings will help you better identify the triggers and warning signs.
The reason death has seemed preferable to life for so many young ones is that they have felt that there is nothing they can do to improve their circumstances. Here are some avenues of help that you may not have considered.
Studies have shown that 90 percent of those that have committed suicide were struggling with a mental disorder at the time. In many of those cases, the disorder had not been recognized, diagnosed, or had not been treated properly. Therefore, today, mental health issues are not as stigmatized as they were decades ago. We look at mental health today in the same vain we have always viewed physical health. Thus, when you are seeing your family doctor for a checkup, they will inquire about your mental health as well. This is not the time to be ashamed; it is the time to be open and honest because they will refer you to a mental health expert that can usually use counseling alone to get you through this hurdle.
Seek Out People Who Care
Whether you have recognized it or not, your life matters too many people, including your family and friends, who likely have already shown they are concerned for you. Let us say for argument’s sake that you are in a dysfunctional family where you might even be suffering from abuse of some sort. There are many people outside of that environment, who would love to invest in you and your future. They would love to have the opportunity to fight for you if given a chance. It might be people, whom you have not even met. It might be a school counselor, who you have chosen to avoid. It might be a mental health counselor, which you have not met yet because you were not open and honest with your physician.
Remember that it is usually almost impossible to lift yourself out of depression or a troublesome life by yourself. However, with others giving you a hand up, you can succeed,
What you can do today is to seek out someone in the mental health field. If you have had thoughts of taking your life and they are persistent, find out through a school counselor or your family doctor, or the department of human services, or the health department, what resources are available to you for help. If it is urgent, there is a suicide-prevention hotline or a hospital emergency room.
What Parents Can Do
- You can never have too much information about teen suicide, but too much misinformation can be a problem. Find a trusted resource.
- Understand that depressed young ones can have a very difficult to express themselves and may not even fully understand what is happening to them. It is nothing against you.
- Do not expect your teen to act like an adult or like teens did when you were a teen. Just be alert to any changes in their behaviors, eating, moods, or social activities, especially if they go on for an extended amount of time.
- Know the warning signs of teen depression and suicide. Just because there are warning signs, this does not mean that they will follow through, but they are to be taken very seriously. Never take a threat as one who is just seeking attention. Look for any changes in their personality: sadness, withdrawal, irritability, anxiety, exhaustion, or indecision. Look for any changes in behavior: a decline in social relationships, or an after-school job, or a reduced interest in positive activities. Are they not sleeping enough, overly sleeping, or having nightmares? Are they showing a loss of appetite, weight loss, or are they overeating? Are you noticing any erratic behavior, harming self or others?
- Be aware of the risk factors as well: Previous suicide attempt(s), depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt, loneliness, worthlessness, or low self-esteem. As well as Loss of interest in friends, hobbies, or previously enjoyed activities, aggressive behavior, bullying or being a bully, disciplinary problems at school or home, some recent loss like death, divorce, or the breakup of a relationship, or a family member that committed suicide.
- Take seriously any comments or hints regarding suicide.
- There are protections that need to be considered. Does your child have skills in problem-solving, conflict resolution, as well as handling problems appropriately. Does your child have strong connections to family and friends? Are any lethal tools (i.., guns) for committing suicide kept away? Religious beliefs discourage suicide and focus on the importance and value of life. The need for a mental health professional.
- You too can take preventative maintenance. Have a positive, interactive relationship with your child. Encourage but do not force them into positive activities. Lovingly be aware of your teen’s whereabouts and set boundaries. Stay in contact with teachers. Be the one your child trusts, who feels that he or she can talk to you about anything. Have such a relationship that your child is not put off by your showing concern.
- Being that your communication is good, and even it is not, take the time to discuss suicide. Be calm and non-accusatory when discussing suicide. Express your love and concern. Make sure the child is well aware of how much you love him or her and that their well-being and health are very important to you.
- Seek the help of a mental health professional if your gut is telling you something just is not right.
- 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- American Association of Suicidology: http://www.suicidology.org
- Light for Life Program: http://www.yellowribbon.org/
- National Institute of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Resources http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml
- National Mental Health Association: http://www.nmha.org
- S.O.S High School Suicide Prevention Program: http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/highschool
- Suicide Awareness/Voices of Education (SAVE): http://www.save.org
- Suicide Prevention Therapist Finder (SPTF): http://www.HelpPRO.com/SPTF
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