Waking up to screeches from having horrific dreams to having ADHD, mental health encompasses it all and even ingrains its root within the tiny little cracks in between. Although mental health abnormalities could invite people of all age groups, in the latest years, reports and incidents have uncovered prodigious risk for teenagers and adolescents. The little boy who has outstripped his childish, stubborn way of getting toys might grow up with deep seated depression from watching his parents fight, social abuse, bully or even matters as trivial as ingratitude. What are the rationales of children portraying unwillingness to go to school the next day? Or why do teenagers speak less and express escalated resentment? What guides young adults to feel like an underachiever and commit suicide?
People always rave about how depression leads to multiple extreme outcomes, however, has anybody ever thought what goes down on the insides of that overclouded brain of the victim? Are we too occupied with knowing what leads to mental health issues whereas; the moral tactic would be to try to walk in their shoes and look at the world through their eyes and see what they’ve seen, hear what echoes within the walls of their being and finally understand an ounce of what causes such incompetence.
Depression is a persistent feeling of sorrow, helplessness, loneliness and loss of activity. It puts up an insurmountable height of wall around that person regarding emotional, physical and functional barriers. Is it always in best regard to offer cookies or showcase hostile behavior when an individual is irritable or unhappy with inexplicable reasons? The world is dimmer now with lesser and lesser ray of hope colliding with our fates. People are meaner, careless, selfish and unbothered and if such kaput way of “being cool” carries on for another decade or two, everyone will indefinitely have mental health imbalance and yet, not show a dime of it. In theory and reality, it is a lot nicer and humane if one showers loyalty, care and love. Maybe there were thousands of minds who stepped on a stool and hung themselves from the ceiling but wanted a way out as their windpipe constricted and eyes bulged out. Maybe they wanted someone to care enough to intercept them in their last mid-swing. Perhaps that was the termination of a million lives.
Adolescent is a topsy-turvy road down the end with a constant juggle of emotional and physical change and adapting to these turn of events for years at a stretch. But often only agitation and anger management issues aren’t the only determinants of mental health inconsistencies. Multiple times if the signs are under the covers for too long, it erupts causing outbursts or other measures of suffering. With the turmoil of hormonal overflow to comprehend one’s own sexual identity, it ushers in various discrepancy may that be on terms of social norms, rules imposed or family relationships. This is crucial when people face the most outrageous forms of social stigma, discrimination, exclusion, educational and family difficulties or physical and emotional violations. As easily as broken hearts could cause frustration and unexpected mood swings leading to a cut too deep to recover, it could even be caused by simpler daily life issues like prohibition from spending time with friends or bad exams. Anxiety could be triggered as simply; or for even bigger inconveniences in life, like a pink slip from school or lapsing back in the soccer team.
Most childhood behavioral disorders are birthed due to family or parental issues. A 6 year old witnessing abuse between parents or lack of attention could be incorporated deeply within their memories which would reciprocate their view on marriage and their elders overall. Children learn what they watch, and as the saying goes – “You reap what you sow”. Everything goes hand in hand and this minor mishap causes greater falling apart, either the child will be scarred for the rest of his/her existence or fall in the hands of the victims or even commit abuse or fights with their respective partners. Children reflect their mental distress through eating disorders, psychosis, self-harm or risk taking behaviors. However, parents often lack the general sense of detection of such early symptoms and document them as ill-manners, stubbornness or adrenaline filled actions. Although just like viral sickness, early detection could actually lead to prevention.
In early or late teen years, the signs of depression or anxiety become more prominent. These individuals constantly talk about suicide or glorify it, involve themselves in reckless accidents or behavior, romanticize death or cascade the interests of other people through cryptic messages or notes. Teens with excessive depression may sleep for longer hours as they have an illusion of escaping the reality when they doze off or in correspondence endure long nights of insomnia. Reports also show that they lack appetite and exhibit more criminal actions. Gradually, their health conditions are affected too through headaches, stomach or back aches, loss of energy, hyperactive characteristics, poor hygiene and appearance or constant forgetfulness. Rebellious behavior that brings them temporary joy could also include drug or alcohol abuse. Further eminent signs for the introverted yet, depressed souls are sudden drop in grades, withdrawal from friends or constantly bailing on everyone and everything.
About 3-5% prevalence of mood swings in boys and girls are no different before the stringent courses of puberty hits. But with growing age and hormonal changes, females are likely to have greater chances of mood disorders than in men by 14-20%. Research has shown that such discrepancies exist as females mature in terms of emotional recognition faster than males, hence have higher chances to be thumped with anxiety or depression. This also proves why girls mellow down to emotional stimuli before men do. Other than the usual symptoms of such suffering, a female’s anhedonia maybe overlooked with flippant thoughts of influence from models or actresses that would obscure the subject’s eating disorder as “trying to be socially accepted”, “working hard for a zero figure” or “paving their path to a modeling career”. Truth is, absence of appetite does not only mean that they nurture the said interests but could also unleash that the person has been depressed for quite some time and that, not all follow the same path of glory and fame as those of actresses.
‘Major depressive disorder’ is when there are a flock of symptoms and comes through with the help of severe episodes that could last for seven to nine months. On the other hand, ‘dysthymic disorder’ is when symptoms are milder but last a longer time, a couple of years or so. In the first case, it could give ways to anxiety attack or hyperactive episodes and such out of ordinary proportions interfere with the person’s ability to function properly and cause obstructions in coping mechanisms.
In Bangladesh, the first survey on mental health was conducted between the years 2003-2005 and had recorded that 16.1% of the adult population had symptoms of mental disorder of some sort. Depression among children on the other hand, was stated as of being at 1%, which deciphers that approximately 5 million Bangladeshi citizens suffer from depression. In Bangladesh’s aspect, people suffer from depression due to separation or divorce, financial instability, criticism or loss of compassion.
In this developing country, people often label depression or anxiety as melodrama, seeking attention or in most cases the taunting absence of interpersonal actions, may that be on the respect of sharing regular incidents or feelings. There’s always a line separating the two generations, either the two parties can’t come to a mutual point of sharing due to open communication defaults or they don’t have that practice since childhood, all of which makes it harder for the child or the grown offspring to talk about their feelings, sufferings, thoughts and struggles. Often this undermining distance could cause mental health issues too and what could be sadder than if the idols one look up to disappear in times of crisis? What if these protagonists think mental health is nothing but the delusion that obliterates one’s mind temporarily? If such were the case, when an individual suffers from cancer, is that too compartmentalized as melodrama? Or is it just because cancer is visually present that it’s taken seriously?
The most enthusiastic figure in the room – a junior or senior by age, who brings joy to everyone else, could return home heavy hearted. Past suicide cases due to depression prove exactly that – Chester Bennington, Anthony Bourdain, Robin Williams, Kate Spade and so many more. Who would’ve thought? It’s time for friends, families and acquaintances to really understand each other, to talk and dissolve walls in accordance to bring peace amongst the mind of the depressed because in reality it doesn’t take much but constant care, love and compassion. That portion of neglected public mental health could one day begin to dominate. Would our elders, social stigma and stereotypes still conclude with mental health as melodrama? The initial step into preventing and curing mental health is to acknowledge and understand its structure, how it preys, its host, why it spreads like wildfire and who may fall as its victims. The longer the population denies its existence, the greater number of depression slips into its palms and eventually, disappears within the hands of death. Is it worth annihilating more lives? How long is it possible to live with a heavy heart and a throbbing brain?