Adolescence is a period from 10-20 years of age. It’s a transition between childhood and adulthood. Managing life with pressure from schools, family, friends, and relationships can be overwhelming as a teen. Making things worst there is always a feeling of not fitting in, feeling disrespected and being misunderstood. On top of that may be existing issues like family disputes, violence, abuse, learning disabilities, mental health issues, stress, depression, anxiety etc, can add to it. A qualified Psychologist can help young children and adults by clarifying, supporting and working through these issues.
“The first step out of childhood is made all at once, without looking before or behind, without caution, and nothing held in reserve”
Some of them which might require help for would include: Peer pressure, School issues and expulsion, pressure for exams, partying and abuse, loneliness, bullying, body image, self esteem, teenage sexuality, grief and loss, anxiety and fear, sadness and depression, self harm, suicidal thoughts, family issues, relationships problems, violence and trauma.
As parents we forget what it was like. Year by year your memory fails. Hence its difficult to relate to your adolescent whether it’s about their acting out or outbursts, their sense of curiosity in activities which are forbidden, their struggles with their social interests, lack of discipline or concentration, fear of losing independence. A dose of recollection and empathy would help your adolescent trust you better.
One of the main tasks of adolescence is to achieve an identity which is not necessarily limited to a knowledge of who they are, but also a clarification of the range of what they might become, a set of self-references by which they can make sense of their behaviours, in order to justify their choices and goals. The changes during adolescence are not something to just get through; they are qualities we actually need to hold on to in order to live a full and meaningful life in adulthood.
QUESTION / ANSWER
“I am a 20 year old girl. I am single and currently pursue a BA in Economics. I did go through a lot of stress due to a break up that happened sometime back. Currently I feel lost, do not have a good sense of time. Not able to focus on my studies or to take care of my health. I do not sleep on time or wake up on time and I am often late in class. I feel sleepy all the time. Have severe body aches. Sometime I skip meals and at other times I over eat. I do not feel motivated for anything much. Am I suffering from depression? If yes how do I cope with this?”
Sangita, Student, New Delhi
“I am glad you asked this question. There is a strong prevalence of mood disturbances and a lot of it goes unnoticed as there is a strong stigma attached to it especially in India. People around us feel that it’s your fault that you could not deal with what life is throwing at you. At the same time you start blaming yourself and get caught in the cycle of depression. It’s very easy to seek help when we have a physical condition but when we have depressive or anxiety related symptoms we just ignore which in turn exacerbates the symptoms and makes the condition severe. The sooner you report the better prognosis you would have. It will also help you improve your health, work, relationships and your over all sense of well being.
Depression is not very easy to diagnose, some signs are very easy to understand and others are subtle. Usually cluster of symptoms at least lasting for two weeks helps one diagnose.
As mentioned by you I understand that you are facing sleep problems, change of appetite, body ache and fatigue as well as loss of interest in pleasurable activities, there also seems to be persistent sadness. All these are certainly symptoms of depression but not enough to reach to a diagnosis.
You can start with a few steps like consciously taking care of your sleep either sleeping less or more both are detrimental to your condition. Fix a time to go to bed, also a time to wake up. Follow this everyday whether you achieve success or not do not judge yourself. Take care of your food habits, eat enough and on time. Avoid sugary, oily, processed food, excessive caffeine or alcohol intake. Have fruits, vegetables and plenty of water. Exercise, it creates chemical balance in your brain. Start with small walks and increase it to other forms of exercises. Do something new, cultivate hobbies. Take support from friends and family. Read about depression. Formulate a goal and work towards them one step at a time.
Apart from the above you need to take care of your negative thoughts. Spend time with positive thinking people. Maintain a journal of your thoughts and cut down the pattern of negative thinking. If the above is overwhelming and does not work for you there is no harm in getting professional help via counselling. You should not battle depression alone. Keep it up!”
Richa Khetawat, Family Counsellor, Masters in Clinical Psychology