From the age of 11 there are a lot of changes happening not only physically and emotionally but there are also changes socially (starting secondary school, spending more time with friends) which can present with new challenges such as feeling the pressure to achieve academically and feeling peer pressure to self-harm or use drugs or alcohol and sexual relationships.
Feeling unhappy or low is a very natural response to all the changes and stresses in a young person’s environment. Most young people experience feeling low or feel generally unhappy by certain things going on in their lives at some point or another. Talking to a counsellor helps to work through issues before they get out control.
But some young people feel sad, anxious or stressed for longer periods of time where it stops them from doing things they would normally do. Feeling exhausted and hopeless when they get up in the morning or even doing the simplest things becomes a challenge is known in the medical profession as depression. Depression can be caused by a reaction to a major event like parents getting divorced or family breakdowns, domestic violence, bullying, neglect, abuse and sometimes depression may run in the family (genetic factors). It could also be as a result of feeling a lot of stress with no support.
Symptoms of depression include:
- not wanting to do things that were previously enjoyed,
- not wanting to meet up with friends or avoiding social situations
- sleeping more or less than normal
- eating more or less than normal
- feeling irritable, upset, miserable or lonely
- being overly self-critical
- feeling for long periods of time hopeless
- maybe wanting to self-harm
- feeling exhausted and not having any energy.
Depression is easy to treat if you get help for it. Talk to your GP, don’t suffer in silence. This will make things worse. There are a lot of young people who suffer from depression and a lot can be done to help.
Talk to a counsellor. This is someone who is objective and trained to listen to you without judging you. Talking definitely helps.
At Youthline, I found it a really comfortable and open environment free from judgement