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.

How hypnosis can cure social anxiety

man sitting alone in crowd

Why do we have emotions? Wouldn’t life be simpler without them? No, like everything else in human makeup, emotions exist to keep us safe and alive, and able to thrive. Contained in the word “emotion” is the word “motion”. And emotions get us to move, either towards something or away from it. OK, but what does this have to do social anxiety?

Well, we all have the same basic human needs – warmth, security, love, connection, food and shelter. We also have further needs for status, significance, attention, stimulation, creativity and so on. Some emotions draw us to things we feel will meet these needs, and continue our survival. And other emotions drive us away from experiences or situations which, we feel, would do the opposite.

But sometimes our feelings direct us the wrong way. Our emotions mainly get it right and drive us toward what’s good for us and away from the bad. But not always.

Your basic human needs draw you towards social contact – but social anxiety drives you away 

Someone with social anxiety both wants and doesn’t want social contact. Their feelings are pulling and pushing them in different directions. A socially anxious person instinctively knows, as we all do, that they need social contact, but at the same time they fear and avoid it. We avoid what we fear – but we then start to fear what we avoid.

Furthermore, the more you avoid something, the greater the fear becomes. It’s as if your ’emotional brain’ looks at your behaviour and thinks: “We’re avoiding this situation so much that it must be really dangerous. So I’d better ramp up the fear some more, to quite make sure we keep avoiding it.” So we avoid what we fear, but we can also come to fear something just because we avoid it so much.

To complicate matters further, you can fully believe something is good for you but still flee from it. Likewise, you can fully believe something (or someone) is bad for you but it, or they, continue to attract you. It’s primal emotional conditioning geared towards survival that drives our fears, rather than ‘faulty thinking’. So they don’t respond much to reasoning. It’s more effective instead to access and modify these primitive drivers through hypnosis.

Social anxiety treatment with hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy offers a safe and relaxed way for someone to experience a situation they would normally avoid. For someone with social anxiety, a party would be a typical example.

If you can experience what it would be like to feel relaxed and spontaneous at a party a few times while in hypnosis, this is a sufficiently strong indication to your emotional brain that this situation isn’t dangerous. This kind of social event can now be reclassified as one you can go safely towards, it decides – before you’ve even been to an actual party. Likewise, someone who hasn’t left their house for years can, under hypnosis, “experience” going outside before they walk out of the door in real life. The process is under their fully control, in sync with a relaxed mind and body. And when they then leave the house or go to a party for real, it will already feel familiar, and therefore safer.

When I work with someone with social anxiety it’s generally apparent the fears have gone the moment they open their eyes. They know the experience in hypnosis of the feared situation wasn’t “real”, of course. Nonetheless, their subconscious now has a positive new blueprint for responding calmly to social situations in future. And then being socially relaxed becomes the new normal.

Next steps

The new 10 steps to overcome social anxiety course has a hypnotic download for each step of the way. This is partly to develop and hone social skills during hypnotic rehearsal, and also so people experience hypnotic “safe” social experiences before they go into these situations for real. In this way the being driven away from feelings of fear can gently be replaced with the happier drawn towards feelings of pleasure and positive expectation when it comes to socialising and meeting new people.

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 if social anxiety affects you or a loved one – I can help.

Beating exam stress

girl writing exam paper

It’s coming up to that time of year when teenagers across the country are feeling the heat… and I’m not talking about the eventual arrival of British summer. With endless revision, exam stress, and ‘A* or bust’ expectations, it’s a testing time in every way.

Staying in good mental and physical shape

While there’s a temptation to cram for exams, it has been proved that a ‘spacing’ strategy is considerably more effective for revision. A bite-sized approach works best with the brain’s natural learning capacities. And this has the added benefit of allowing other vital needs to be incorporated into a programme of study, helping reduce exam stress overall.

When students feel they have to study 24/7, regular meals, exercise, and sleep can fall by the wayside. And even more so if they are especially anxious. As students are used to leading timetabled lives, it can help to design home-based study and relaxation timetables together. It will help them remember these basic needs, and to stay mentally balanced and physically healthy throughout this time. This approach also provides a sense of control as the pressure rises and exam time approaches.

How can hypnotherapy help with exam stress?

Anxiety is complex, however. Students may still feel a sudden sense of overwhelm, resulting in ‘brain fade’ – or simply blind panic. This is where hypnotherapy can be incredibly beneficial – and you can try it right now with this download.

Students can learn self-calming techniques to use, and other practical means of coping with anxiety. They can also learn to visualise a calm and confident persona entering and leaving the exam room, which can help them face their fears. Many young people respond well to techniques that use their imaginations. Picturing themselves in new ways starts the process of overcoming limiting beliefs, and feeling more positive about their abilities. Important steps on the road to success in life, with or without A* grades!

I am a qualified hypnotherapist, experienced in helping clients – including young people – deal with anxiety and stress (see my success stories). I offer a free no-obligation 15 minute phone consultation, so call me on 07947 475721 to see how I can help.

Article first appeared on the Hypnotherapy Directory  May 2017