Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why Are There So Many Depressed Teenagers?

I have worked with teens and young adults is a few different settings both in my jobs and in my volunteer work, and I have met many who are being medicated for depression. The more I hear about it, the more I wonder if we haven’t all gone just a bit crazy. I just talked to a friend who is in her early 20’s who has her whole life ahead of her, knows what she wants to do with her career, is very talented in her field, and she is “clinically depressed” and taking medication.

Why are our kids so depressed? What does that even mean? What is happiness and does it really come in a pill? Or, as I suspect, have we raised a generation of people who only know want and have no sense of what contentment is? Is happiness always that next thing away?

I think it is time for me to interview some of the 50-60 year olds that I know and ask them about this seemingly recent phenomena. Were they depressed as teenagers? Do they remember going through times when they just couldn’t be happy? Did people talk about needing to be happy in the 50’s and 60’s?

Our kids are sad. I know that, and yet, I want to know why. I don’t want to give my kids some pills and expect everything will be ok. I want to know why they are worried and stressed out. I want to make behavior and attitude changes that will make their lives easier. I guess I am showing my bias here, but I really do think that drugs should be a last resort. And I also think that we have a responsibility to find out what is different and what can be changed in their environments to help them.

Can all these kids really be so depressed? Or have our standards changed? Do we judge happiness differently than we used to? I really want to know. Off I go to gather some information from some older folks I know. . .and attempt to answer some questions.

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