Teen Stress Can Lead To Depression

One mental illness we don't talk about in depth is depression. Depression is defined as a "feelings of severe despondency and dejection." It is a deep sadness that occurs when the person loses all sense of hope.

Kids Health states that "17 million people of all age groups, races, and economic backgrounds" are victims of depression. But, what is more disconcerting to me is that 1 in 8 teenagers suffer from depression. While there are many physical and emotional factors that lead to this disease--and yes, depression is a disease, I can't help but wonder what role stress plays.

Stress is that emotional tenseness that develops when a person is scared, angry, overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious, or worried, and if it is left unchecked it can lead to depression. Take sixteen year old, Amy (not her real name), for example. She missed one week of school because of the flu.

"I missed all of my semi-finals. I knew my teachers expected me to make them up my first day back, but when I was sick I couldn't focus enough to read, write, or even concentrate. It was so much pressure that I threw up, and spent the next three days at home again. The next week, I didn't go to school at all. I couldn't. I was so far behind I knew I'd never get caught up, so I checked out. All I wanted to do was sleep so the pressure would go away. If it hadn't been for my mom's insistence that I see a counselor, I'd still be laying in bed."

Teens today are under more stress than ever before. Parents, teachers, friends, bullies, coaches, social media, and even a teen's own emotional growth can cause stress. At times, it must seem that everyone is either pushing or pulling them in one direction or another.  What's a teen to do? Here are four tips that might help.

  • Exercise. Walk the dog, run around the block, or jump up and down on a trampoline. Physical activity is the best way to ease anxiety and give your mind a break. Yes, there are all kinds of scientific reasons this works, but all you need to know is that it does.
  • Take a breather. I don't mean a break. I mean close your eyes, and breathe in slowly and deeply. Hold it for a few seconds, then let the air out just as slowly.
  • Don't handle it alone. Talk to someone you trust--a parent, a friend, or another family member-- about whatever problem you are facing. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help. If you can't find help at home, try school. 

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