Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The "D" Word

Well, it's here again.

I am not talking about myself, although it's nice to get back to writing. It is the "D` word that will be center of `the attention today. She is "Dreaming" you might think? No, unfortunately today's "D" word is DEPRESSION.

This word is dark, lonely, scary and very disturbing. It hunts people all over the world and some of them don't even realize it. It affects old, middle aged and young. And this is a second time in my life that this word is visiting my family. The most precious person in my life, my son, has confirmed my biggest fear. My son is depressed and has been for the last four years.

Where was I? Where were my eyes, ears and my mind? How come I did not see this? How come I did not ask THE question?
I have been beating myself up for sometime now. I am just realizing that it is tough to be a parent and I am extremely grateful to my Mom and Dad! It is difficult to look back and try to find that misstep, that wrong door that you opened, that wrong turn that you took. I blame myself for my son's current condition. I am his Mom after all! I am the only parent he has left! I am suppose to be guiding him, helping him, be there for him! Where was I?

We've been through this before. But not with my son, my son's Dad. He struggled for years without success and eventually his body gave up. This happened almost four years ago. My family learned the hard lesson and my biggest fear was that depression might return.

But what is depression? Here is the definition from Wikipedia: Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behaviour, feelings and physical well- being. Most of the people get affected by depression at least once in their lives. The big difference is the severity and length of this illness.

Depression could be caused by a significant event in your life, certain medical condition, could be side effect to some medications or simply by a mental illness. Depression affects teenagers in a different way than it does adults. Teenager's brain is still developing. That's why you have to be very careful with the treatment.  We are not quite there yet, we are still trying to talk things out. But here are few things that I found very helpful:

- Listen to your teenager. I emphasized on that before in my post "Are They Even Listening?". My sunny optimistic personality is not something that my son can handle right now. Although I have a very optimistic response to every negative statement from him, it's better just to hear what he has to say.
- Be supportive and non judgemental. They are suffering already, please do not add more negativity and misery to their lives.
- Be there for them but do not over do it. Tell them that you are there if they need to talk. Most importantly tell them that you love them. But please do not overwhelm them with your attention. They also need quite time to figure things out.
- Offer help and be persistent. Not all depressions are the same. Some are mild and some are quite deep and require serious medical attention. Be persistent on getting a professional help, even if the teenager has a mild case.
- Encourage activities but don't be too pushy. As adults, we know that physical activities are great for fighting depression. Encourage your child to continue with their regular physical activities. But if the going gets tough, back off. Do not push too hard, it can create more problems.
- Mental health vs marks. School is tough, especially in grade 12. There are plenty of worries about marks and future in particular. But if there is no stability in mind, there is no future, Take care of the head first!

That's all I discovered at this time. I'll be happy to share more when I learn it, find it or create it. But there is just one question that I cannot get out of my head. Why are so many kids depressed?

While talking to my Mom, who still lives in Russia, she suggested that there are many teenagers that are depressed. When I was growing up in Russia, I never heard the word depression. I am sure many adults and kids  had the illness but never knew what it was. We had good days and bad days. We just dealt with it all. But these days many young lives are lost. Does that have to do with the world development and mounting pressure on our young generation? Is it because there is so much talk about depression in adolescents and you almost have to have it to fit? Is it our oh so open democratic society that allows our children to be exposed to more than they can handle?

Whatever it is, it's an epidemic and it is very scary! I know that there is not one solution and at times there is no solution but the way to cope. But can we do something to help our future generation?

Please let me know about your thoughts, your experiences and your suggestions. There are many people out there that can use our knowledge and realize that they are not alone.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones!

Be Active! Be Involved! Be a Current Woman! 


  1. I read your post, and I would have to agree. The only thing I would add, is try to understand the cause of the depression. As you said, it's almost cool to be depressed these days. Especially as a teenager. The problem is, kids get trapped in this cycle. If you want to be depressed, at first it is a little game, but soon, it can become a habit, and then very difficult to reverse.

    Everyone has had a traumatic experience in their life, and it truly is the people around you that essentially dictate how you cope with it.

    For example, if you begin to get more sympathetic attention after a major event from those that you are not used to getting it from, and you enjoy it, you will continue to request it. As a teenager, your biggest influences stops being your parents, and starts being the people you hang around with.

    For boys, new attention from a sympathetic girl, will greatly influence how long and how deep someone’s depression goes. At this point, there are only two people that can help. The girl who is providing the attention, and the boys parents. Unfortunately, the girl in this case, does not know how influential she really is, and what it's doing to the boy. Therefore, the only hope is on the parents.

    This is where it becomes difficult, as you cannot restrict the boy from the girl, or you cause deeper and further depression. And the conversation regarding this will not provide any positive results. What can a parent do.

    well... from my experience, encouraging activities with the girl that are exciting and busy.
    Essentially what you are trying to do, is help them build a healthy relationship of fun, laughter, joy, so that he can see that he can still get attention, and it's much more enjoyable when it's good attention.

    Sometimes, if the people providing the sympathetic attention are mature enough, you can have a conversation with them, and let them know that if they truly want to help, and be part of the recovery, that they can do so by being positively involved.

    Of course, all this being said, is regarding someone who is depressed and not able to get through it because it is the FAD, and they are trapped or encouraged to stay there. When someone is deeply depressed, they are not looking for attention, they become more solitude. They want to be with their thoughts, and being around happy people only seems to depress them more. At this point, only the parents can help. By removing them from their comfort spot, (bedroom, home, headphones, computer) and getting them active is the only way to naturally clean their body, and their mind. but it can't be for one day, or a couple hours. It is an INTERVENTIONIf you ask a depressed person what they want to do, they will say "nothing", and they will find excuses.

    My saving grace, after losing my 8 year old brother, was my mother. She made herself available for me to talk to, but never pushed me. She encouraged me to be active, but that was the last thing on my mind. She encouraged me to be social, but the only people I found I wanted to hang around with, with those that didn't care, and didn't ask questions. It became very difficult for my mom to be able to put a smile on my face. All I would think, is "you don't understand", "you don't get it", "just leave me alone".


  2. But her persistence in not dwelling on the past, but looking into what the future can hold for me, is what finally helped me turn around. She encouraged me to help others, and to be the best that I can be. When everything seemed so far out of reach, she showed me how to reach it.
    Look for something that you child feels is out of reach, and help them achieve that goal. Start small, but make sure it's meaningful. Don't do it for them, but empower them to do it on their own. If you are going to break out of depression, you need to stop having hopeless feelings. You need to conquer yourself, your emotions, and your fears.

    If you don’t agree, I hope you have the power to delete what I have said. If you do agree, I hope you share it with everyone.