This is a guest post by Denny Dew. Denny writes with great passion on the subject of teenage depression. See if you agree with Denny’s take on the subject and comment below.
Depression in teenagers, and depression in general, can have a multitude of causes, amongst which fear has a major role.
Dorothy Rowe, in her book Beyond Fear, explains brilliantly how fear is transformed into depression.
It’s hard to appreciate the role of fear in producing depression, because in Western cultures repression of feelings is very strong. Fear is denied because it’s unwanted, or judged as unjustified.
Needless to say, however strong denial is, unwanted feelings keep eroding our psychological well-being until they explode in one way or another, or just make us unhappy without apparent reason.
A healthy attitude towards feelings would mean we allow ourselves to express them completely. I know that this sounds risky. We should accept this risk as we should accept the inevitable presence of risk in life. Training to manage risk should be offered to us from a young age.
Once acknowledged, fear can be transformed into courage instead of depression. This is hard to do because it requires us to defy social conformity which in Western societies is very strong.
Conformity is strong and, at the same time, we pretend to be free. This conundrum produces conflicts and a sense of guilt.
Causes of depression in teenagers: educated to be docile consumers
Human beings can, unfortunately, be psychologically manipulated in many ways. Propaganda is a well known way to manipulate people and it has a long history. Recently, it has also benefited from some scientific discoveries about the functioning of the human brain.
C.G. Jung called attention to the limits of psychological manipulation. Human nature can be manipulated, but not at leisure. It reacts eventually. Depression is one of the many possible reactions to manipulation.
If it’s true that most people accept being manipulated and live all their life accordingly, it’s also true that more and more people unconsciously foster a rejection of this manipulation that they feel offensive to their true nature.
We are manipulated first by making us emotionally dependent on our teachers who will decide what we have to learn and when. They will also instill in us the idea that our value has to be determined whether low or high, and that it will always be someone else who performs such evaluation.
This manipulation is intended to make us feel bad if we don’t conform to the expectations others have on us.
This psychological damage is intentional, and its purpose is to create an army of docile workers and consumers who have also to think of themselves as enjoying freedom when they actually don’t, and can’t think a truly autonomous thought for fear of disapproval.
Manipulation is employed to create the docile consumer who doesn’t know any more why they are consuming. To consume is a conditioned response to them.
You can hear people tell that they have to buy something to keep the economy running. This is a meaningless thought, but I’m not saying that these people are dumb, I say that they are manipulated to be dumb.
Consumption has been deliberately transformed into a conditioned response advancing the excuse that man is an animal and must be treated as such and its responses can and must be conditioned.
Many psychological schools collaborate to manipulate people by providing depictions of human nature that are intended to justify manipulation.
Actually, man is much different from an animal, and would like some respect that people driven by their selfishness can’t give.
If most of the people resign themselves to this inhuman treatment, many react with depression. Others react with violence.
This reaction can be sedated by drugs which sometimes are life-saving, and most of the times are a clear sign of the decline of humanity in our way of life.
Symptoms of depression in teenagers
Fear is on its way to becoming depression in a teenager if he or she shows one or more of these symptoms:
- disorders in regulating food intake
- troubles with sleeping; the depressed teenager could sleep too much or too little
- experiencing feelings that can be traced back to fear like anger, sense of guilt, irritability, agitation
- lack of concentration, hopelessness, worthlessness
- consumption of drugs, alcohol and smoke can be signs of depression, and they should have their causes investigated instead of being judged negatively
Depressed teenagers need immediate help if they are having thoughts of suicide.
Treatments for depression in teenagers
Depression in teenagers is a result of fear, and fear is a result of how we see ourselves and of what we think about ourselves.
The depressed teenager fears becoming a docile consumer renouncing their humanity to become well-adjusted machines in a profoundly sick society.
Very effective treatments for depression in teenagers are based on challenging and transforming the teenager’s thinking patterns into ones that are more respectful of their human nature.
During the therapy, depressed teenagers are taught to see themselves as what they actually are: human beings.
As human beings, they are capable of enjoying true freedom to buy or not without obeying the conditioned response society trains them to have.
They can regain the status of human being that society wants to deny them to transform them into dumb consumers.
Art therapy is also very effective with depression in teenagers. Art forms like music, drama, painting and writing are proposed by a trained therapist to help depressed teenagers to express freely their authentic feelings without feeling guilty or wrong in the process.
Art is therapeutic also because it’s far from being a conditioned response. It’s instead an activity the teenager can be the active subject of. They don’t have to obey any expectation, and will not suffer from any sort of emotional dependence.
With artistic expression, depressed teenagers can begin to trust their feelings instead of repressing them. They can do something they can control, instead of always obeying others. They aren’t despised if they don’t obey.
A space of truly free artistic expression is created for them to remind themselves that they aren’t animals to be conditioned.
Depression in teenagers can find solace in individual artistic creation while waiting for our culture to give space and prominence to forms of collective art.
This is a guest post by Dennis Dew. He is the author of Depression Teens Help, a web site where you can learn about depression in teenagers, its causes, symptoms and treatments. You can follow Dennis on Twitter. His handle is @DennyDew.