Depression at an All Time High Among Youth...BUT WHY?

When I saw this news, all I could think was, "Ugggggghhhh. Why."

Let me hit you with the facts before we dive into the opinions:
According to the Independent,  the UK is experiencing a "mental health crisis" among teenagers, with rates of depression going up OVER 70 PERCENT WITHIN THE PAST 25 YEARS. That's not even gradual, that's skyrocketing. That's scary and suspicious and heart-wrenching and makes me want to crawl up into a burrito of blankets.

But it's not just the good ol' UK experiencing crippling depression rates among youth. America is experiencing this mental health issue as well.

The article states:

"The American College Health Association surveyed 100,000 college students at 53 US campuses and found that 84 per cent of US students feel unable to cope, 79 per cent are exhausted, 60 per cent feel very sad and more than half are experiencing overwhelming anxiety."

We all feel down every now and then, but these numbers mean something. It's not like 84% of students are saying "I'm sad sometimes," they are saying, "I'M UNABLE TO COPE AND I NEED HELP."

Eighty. four. percent.

When I saw that percentage, my entire body began to feel heavier than normal and my heart dropped straight into my stomach. This is not something we should throw under the rug. This needs to be addressed.

The first thought that popped into my head was: "Okay, but why?" And I'm not sure we'll ever get a definite answer as to why. The reason could be different for everyone. It could be a mix of reasons. It could be something simple. Or it could be something unheard of. 

I ran to my desk and started brainstorming possibilities:

  • the pressure to be perfect
  • things changing too fast and it being hard to adapt
  • the crushing anxiety of the modern day workplace
  • mixed with the stress of school work
  • high expectations among peers and parents
  • weird conspiracy theories like chips being planted in our brains
  • or poisionous fluoride being forced into our water
  • technology and materialism taking over 
  • financial issues
  • their entire life being laid out on social media
  • not eating right or exercising right
  • or not even having the time to do anything you love anymore
Those were just some of the possible reasons I brainstormed but the list is endless. After writing bullet point after bullet point, I realized it doesn't really matter why young adults are experiencing depression, but WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP IT?

It particularly bothered me how this wasn't making more headlines. 

We need to stop acting like any negative feeling is frowned upon. We need to stop shaming introverts and praising extroverts. We need to stop glamorizing mental illness. We need to show youth that mental illness is normal and it doesn't mean you're crazy. It's common and it's easy to recover if you take the right steps. Asking for help should be encouraged, not hidden.

Instead of just pushing drugs on people with mental illness, we need to understand them first. Instead of having a guidance counselor hand them a bunch of useless pamphlets, we need to come from a place of empathy and love. Because when it comes down to it, every person is different, therefore every depression is different. It needs to be treated on an INDIVIDUAL basis.

We need to be open about these issues with our peers. If 84% of youth is experiencing depression, why aren't they talking about it with each other? Getting those words out would be so freeing.

We need to move with passion and purpose instead with greed and numbness.

We need to acknowledge how fast society, technology and youth is changing. Things are moving rapidly and we need to adjust. We need to keep our minds open. We need to be ready.

But most importantly, we need to listen to each other. I cannot stress this enough. We need to stay soft in a world that is hard and hopeful around people that are cruel. 

There are days where I feel like I cannot cope but I have to stay hopeful. Instead of keeping it all in and digging deeper into an empty void, I need to use my existence to spread hope and understand my peers. If we all do this, life may be a bit more tolerable.  XO

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