I was very young when I first witnessed a cousin of mine having an episode of what I think was a neurosis. He was tied in a bed and was struggling. All I know at that time is that they can’t restrain him from aggressive outbursts. His mom was crying, and grandma was taken aback by what was happening.
That was not the first time actually, but that was the worst I have seen so far. Years after, that cousin of mine committed suicide. And he was not the only one in our family who did such. Actually, my grandpa shot himself for reasons I don’t know. My uncle (my dad’s bro) also took away his own life after his wife left him.
Now, that I’m experiencing some kind of depression, some curiosity arose in me. Does mental illness run in our family? According to Mindia Gabichvadze, PsyD, “Other risk factors for depression include a personal or family history of mental health issues.”
I first started to ask myself about it when my partner noticed how quickly I switch moods. According to Dana Harron, PsyD, “Sudden mood swings are common in people considering suicide, and may or may not relate to mental health issues such as bipolar disorder.” She wonders why I occasionally blow hot and cold. Well, man can have his moods, too, but she sees mine as a bit exaggerated. One moment, I’m so into this thing, and with reasons she doesn’t know, am not interested anymore. If she insists, there goes my anger outbursts and aggressiveness. And we will end up with a fight, sometimes serious, other times not quite.
Then, I realized there are days when I would go into depression. Notably, at times when we didn’t end up on a good note, I would just stay in my room for days with the lights off. I would avoid talking to friends and my parents. I would refuse my parents even though I know they’re worried about me. I was just there curled up in my bed, then would be down the floor, back to the bed again, then would stare out the window. At times, I have these deep thoughts; other times, it seems I have nothing on my mind at all, just there thinking of nothing really. But worse is when I would cry as I write notes on my walls, pages of notebooks, and even at the back of some photos. “The depressed person, due to the way brain operates in depression, become unable to see new solutions to problems, and they focus overly on negatives. They tend to ruminate on what is wrong in their lives, and such brooding increases mental ‘stuckness.'”, according to Margaret Wehrenberg, PsyD.
I Shared My Thoughts Once, And It Made Me Wanna Kill Myself
I was confused. I had a flashback as if I was seeing my cousin yelling with his angry outbursts, imagining how my grandfather and uncle took away their own lives. Have they passed on that craziness on me?
“Oh, it’s in my genes.” (Sobbing)
I shared my feelings on social media, and all I got are upsetting words. Not even one comment sympathize or seems affected by what I posted in there.
“Hey, people, feel like I wanna kill myself.” And the voice in my mind is nagging me to do it, “NOW.”
What should I do?
With the negative comments I received, I drank until I passed out. I woke up in the hospital. My mom was crying beside me. My wrist still a bit hurting. I wasn’t aware I almost killed myself after I took some Quaalude, which I was able to get online days before and cut my wrist in the bathroom.
My Fears Confirmed!?
It frightened me so much. I was terrified realizing I could have it. I saw a psychiatrist who doesn’t want to conclude if its hereditary. According to him, there could be a number of reasons behind my acts, not just the genes.
He is also thinking that I might just be engrossed with the idea of mental illness being passed on to me because of the things I witnessed when I was young. I need to go through tests, observations, and therapy sessions to make a final conclusion. I was given meds to calm my nerves when I have attacks.
For now, I feel a bit lost, but I’m trying to find myself. I was confused but trying to be strong.
Anxiety disorders, as well as mental illnesses in general, have historically been treated with less importance than other diseases, partly due to its effects manifesting more on the mind than on the physical body. “Anxiety comes in waves, and managing the disorder means learning coping tools and strategies to help surf those waves rather than expecting the waves to disappear entirely.” says a licensed mental health counselor Caitlyn McKinzie Bennett.
This is another case of examining which comes first — did depression cause the eating disorder or did the eating disorder cause the development of depression? Singularly, these are two separate mental states that need exclusive treatment. However, if these are present in one person, then the treatment plan is more complex and will require the intervention of psychiatrist, nutritionist and primary care physician.
Depression comes as black clouds in the sky during childhood, the most beautiful season in our lives. Clinical depression makes a child gloomy, aloof and takes away his innocence and simplicity.
One of the major reasons for childhood depression is the persistent feeling of, as Betterhelp says, “no one cares”. Feeling deprived, ignored or unheard can make any child morose and develop negative thoughts. Persistent feelings of sadness and grief interfere with the normal functioning of children, making them inactive, aloof and low all the time. “Depression and its worst risk, suicide, are serious and common problems in children and teens. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in U.S. teens, resulting in more deaths than from cancer or any other disease or illness.”, according to Michael Shapiro, a child and adolescent psychiatrist.
There are several reasons why depression triggers in childhood. Especially in these changing times, multiple issues contribute to a child’s unhappiness.
- Broken homes, parental divorce/separation, loss of a parent.
- Unhealthy competition with siblings, friends.
- The Harsh behavior of parent/s.
- Being a victim of trauma (natural disasters, wars, abuse, etc.)
- Getting bullied (at school or home).
“Depression is not a weakness of character, laziness, or a phase.”, according to Deborah Serani, PsyD. It happens even to the most liveliest of kids, as soon as the above situations happen to them.
The warning signs
- Feelings of sadness and hopelessness persisting for over 2 weeks
- Lack of energy in playing or doing activities the child used to enjoy do
- Significant changes in appetite and sleep
- Vocal outbursts or crying (even in petty matters)
- Physical ailments that are not responding to treatments (such as stomach aches, headaches, muscle cramps)
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt with impaired thinking or concentration and experiencing fatigue
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Remarkable changes in all social activities like sports, studies, social interactions, etc..
- Poor academic performance and complete loss of interest in studies/school.
7 ways of managing childhood depression
- Talk to your child – Children often fail to identify the real cause of depression. They would just feel sad and don’t know why. Parents, teachers, siblings or caregivers can take the first step by helping the child talk about how he/she feels. Talking out also makes the child feel important and understood.
- Visit the pediatrician – Childhood depression often comes up with physical ailments that become the focus of concern instead. A full exam by the doctor helps let you know better about the health conditions of your child that can cause depression like symptoms.
- Consult a therapist – It is always good to consult a child psychiatrist or a therapist if the symptoms persist. A professional guidance ensures a better solution. Usually, for moderate to severe depression, the treatment involves Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Short-term Family Therapy, and Supportive Counselling. For family or group therapy – According to psychotherapist Ali Miller, MFT, “Group therapy reduces isolation and alienation. It increases the sense that ‘we’re all in this together,’ and normalizes suffering.”
- Be cautious about your child’s nutrition – Be vigilant about your child’s diet. Always ensure that your child is getting a balanced and healthy diet with all the essential nutrients. See that he/she gets the optimum amount of sleep. It is important that they get daily physical activity. These have many positive effects on mood and provides nourishment for a healthy mind and body.
- Enjoy time together – Go for a walk, play games (see suggested ps4 games for kids or other activities for both parent and child), cook, watch funny movies, make some art and craft items. These will gently encourage positive emotions and moods and overcome depressive moods.
- Act with patience and kindness – When suffering from depression, kids often act grumpy and irritating. Try to be as calm as you can and let the child feel safe. Using harsh words does the worse.
- Build a positive relationship – A positive relationship with parents, siblings, and friends helps strengthen a child’s resilience against depression. It is very important for parents to become good friends with their children so that they can share their feelings freely.
Life cannot always be easy and comforting, not even in childhood. But with affection, love, and support from close ones, children can easily get over depression.
Reach out to your children, notice their behavior, stand in their shoes, be there anytime they need you.
As Pam Leo has rightly said, “Let’s raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhoods”.