Depression in young people

teenager with sad face mask

School holidays can be a testing time for families. Parents try to find new ways to keep children and teens occupied, while young people themselves may be missing school friends. They may try to assert their own independence. Or they may simply be bored, no matter what activities are available. But what if problems are a symptom of something more concerning?

Many people wonder if depression in young people is real. In the case of teens, adults may attribute symptoms of depression to normal teen emotional swings. But experts and paediatricians point out that children and teens really can get depressed, and may be afflicted with the true illness of depression.

What causes depression in young people? 

As in adults, depression in young people may have multiple causes, or one cause that varies among individuals. There are some factors that are unique to certain stages of life, however.

Children

Children, like adults, may become depressed because of genetics. They may have inherited a tendency toward depression, and perhaps there was a trigger that caused it to surface.

Children may become depressed due to parents’ relationship difficulties, as they are uniquely affected by their immediate family’s dynamic.

Bullying at school is also something children may have to face that is not a factor for adults. The same goes for cyber-bullying, which can have devastating consequences. Low self-esteem can also develop through comparing themselves to peers on social media.

A child with a tendency toward perfectionism may be more prone to depression as well. Children with this tendency may ‘beat themselves up’ unnecessarily over failures or perceived failures.

Teens

This age group is considered particularly prone to depression, possibly due in part to the hormonal upheavals of the teenage years. But be careful. It’s easy for adults to take this information and think ‘it’s just hormones’ and therefore think the depression does not need to be addressed. Experts agree that depression, regardless of its cause, is something that should be addressed and treated.

Teens may also be dealing with the bullying/self-esteem issues mentioned above, or even just ‘harmless’ teasing. They may be experiencing their first crush; or rejection from the opposite sex, or indeed same sex. And realising one’s sexuality and then facing the prospect of coming out is an additional and potentially enormous minefield for those affected. (This download might help in this instance.)

Other causes may be purely physiological. Maybe nothing is particularly wrong in the teen’s life, but his or her brain just seems to run in a depressed mode.

What are the signs?

Here are some warning signs of depression in young people.

Children

Parents should be vigilant for any talk about suicide or morbid fascination with death. Other sources point out that television and films should be carefully monitored. Parents should be wary both of potentially depressing subject matter, and of the psychological effects of TV viewing in general (studies show that children who watch six or more hours of TV a day are more prone to depression).

  • Sleep disturbances or changes in sleep habits
  • Sudden increase or decrease in appetite
  • Angry outbursts and/or irritability
  • Lack of interest in social activities or friends
  • ‘Touchy’ about perceived rejection
Teens

Some of the signs of depression in teens are like those in children; some are different. As with children, parents of teens should be keenly aware of any indications of suicidal thoughts. Music, films, and television are also sources of potentially depressing images and subject matter – although it’s important to emphasise that an attraction to these may be a symptom rather than a cause. Also, many teens attracted to ‘alternative’ subcultures can find solace and support there. Non-mainstream interests can be a positive indication of independent thinking and inner confidence.

Other signs may include:

  • Weight loss or gain
  • Over-exercise
  • Binge eating and/or obsessive dieting
  • Angry outbursts/yelling at parents
  • Withdrawal from social activities and family
How can hypnotherapy help?

If your child shows some of these signs over a period of time, consider whether they would be open to seeing someone who could help them. Hypnotherapy can be an extremely effective way of working with depression in young people on a number of levels. In particular, it’s significant that in hypnotherapy they don’t have to talk about their issues if they don’t want to, or feel able to. But, like adults, they appreciate the deeply calming relaxation involved in hypnotherapy. And this can help them gain perspective and develop control over their issues, and then work towards clarity and understanding. If they want to give it a quick try, this download might be a good starting point.

I am a qualified hypnotherapist, experienced in working with depression (see my success stories). I’ve completed the acclaimed Uncommon Knowledge course ‘How To Lift Depression Fast’. And I have good experience in with working with young people, including treating depression. I offer a free 15 minute phone consultation (07947 475721), and although I am based in London, UK I can work remotely wherever in the world you may be. So please do get in touch if depression affects you or your child – I can help.

The importance of self-care

woman in yoga pose on rock above lake

Self-care: you can’t pour from an empty cup

I gave a talk at a local business networking group a couple of weeks ago, and the conversation turned to self-care. Everyone there was running a small businesses – all women, many bringing up children at the same time. Some commented that the brief guided visualisation I conducted as part of the session was the first time they had relaxed in months. Not unusually, some of them felt guilty when they took time out for themselves. I replied that if they didn’t care for themselves, would they be giving the best service possible to their clients?

Unfortunately we live in a culture that fetishises hard work, with predictable consequences. Burn-out is endemic, people spend less time with their loved ones, and everyone suffers. It’s not selfish to take time each day to nurture yourself. By that I mean things like taking time to cook a nutritious meal instead of grabbing a take-away. Or spending quality time with people – preferably with phones off! Maybe taking a walk in nature. Or meditating: there are plenty of guided visualisations on Youtube if you’re not sure where to start. Basically anything that gets you to slow down, breathe, and reconnect with the world around you. Do you ever notice how much calmer you feel around someone who is calm themselves? Well, you can be that person! And you can try for yourself right now, if you like – check out this download and see how refreshed you feel after fifteen minutes.

Self-care: you don’t have to go it alone

If you need some support and encouragement along the way, there are many therapists – including myself of course – ready to help. Therapy centres often run open days so why not try some different therapies and see what feels best for you? Many therapists, again including myself, offer free consultations, so you can decide whether they offer what you need (my contact details if you’d like to get in touch).

Some people find the potential cost off-putting. Consider it an investment rather than an expense. Besides, a session with someone providing meaningful support costs about the same as a night in the pub. And a good therapist doesn’t just help you work through the issues holding you back. They will also teach you skills and strategies to take away and use to better the rest of your life. Who can put a price on that?

All about mental health

woman alone on bus with distorted reflections in windows

I’ve been focusing strongly on mental health so far this year, including starting a NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Awareness of Mental Health Problems. I also attended a couple of good events that I’d like to discuss.

Before I do, it’s such a positive sign that these discussions are even taking place. People are increasingly open about their mental health struggles. I’m no fan of celebrity culture, but I applauded Mariah Carey’s bravery in revealing her bipolar disorder recently. This – and similar revelations by those in the public eye – will give courage to many who have struggled with the same symptoms but not known what to do. Or not even realised that there was a name for them. For far too long the media has ridiculed sufferers, and ignorant attitudes have prevailed. All too often sufferers are told ‘pull yourself together’, ‘man up’ or ‘move on’. None of which helps those struggling to manage their symptoms, which often result from factors outside their control in the first place.

Mental health in the workplace

It was with interest that I ventured to the recent Minds@Work event – in their own words, ‘a community of like-minded professionals coming together to break the stigma of depression and anxiety in the working world.’ Handily they have put all the talks up on their website, including stories from two gentlemen whose mental health had impacted upon their careers – and how they had overcome this adversity. There was also an excellent demonstration of best practice from insurance firm Legal & General. They not only employ sixty Mental Health First Aiders, but have a great campaign underway called ‘Not A Red Card Offence’, engaging famous sportspeople to help shift the stigma (the power of celebrity again). Impressive!

It’s encouraging to see the business world starting to grasp the nettle. In fact, I’m increasingly seeing executives seeking treatment. People start to buckle under the strain of a culture where being a workaholic is seen as a positive attribute. In reality, it inevitably strains relationships with their families and other loved ones – especially if they resort to coping mechanisms such as drugs, alcohol, or gambling.

Mental health in the music industry

The next event was close to my heart: a Mental Health Workshop run by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA). As a professional musician myself, I have seen firsthand the impacts of a lifestyle that’s often over-romanticised. Long days composing, rehearsing, or touring, with longer nights performing, take their toll on health and relationships. The near impossibility of earning any reasonable income from one’s talents doesn’t help. (Did you know a band/artist earns only 0.001p from each play on Spotify, for example?) So this event was intended to provide a taster of skills based on neuroscience and cognitive behavioural psychology to empower musicians as they progress against such unfavourable odds, courtesy of Music for Mental Wealth. It was good to see some of the techniques I use with my own clients gaining wider traction. And I’m optimistic that these sorts of conversations are becoming more common.

Find the help you need

So if you or anyone close to you is feeling the strain of a mental health issue, remember you’re not alone. You can get help from a number of local sources and support groups. Ask your GP for advice in the first instance too. Although medication works for some people, it doesn’t really represent a long-term solution. A qualified therapist can help you get to the root of the issue and teach you coping mechanisms as appropriate. This may entail making some lifestyle and work-life balance changes. But as the old adage says, no-one on their deathbed wishes they’d spent more time at work. If you need to take action on this front immediately, I recommend this download.

Hypnotherapy or coaching might be right for you regarding these (or any other) issues. I am a qualified life coach and hypnotherapist, experienced in coaching clients to help them make the changes they want in their lives (see my success stories). And I can help you move forward too. I offer a free no-obligation 15 minute phone consultation, so call me on 07947 475721 to see what I can do for you. And if you work for an employer who runs staff well-being events, I also undertake corporate sessions – feel free to put me in touch with your HR department.

In the meantime, thanks for reading; and let’s do our best to support anyone we know – or suspect – who may be struggling with their mental health.

I’m interviewed on Radio Sydenham!

I did a live radio interview about hypnotherapy on Radio Sydenham today. This is great little community radio station operating from the depths of Sydenham Library. I did some myth-busting about hypnotherapy, and talked about the process and the benefits. You can hear the interview in full here (I’m on at the start of the show, for about 15 minutes).