It’s kept quiet, ignored, even ridiculed. It’s something most people would rather not think about, but youth depression is a growing epidemic in North America. According to statistics Canada, over a quarter of a million youth have a major depressive disorder.
Many suffer in silence, too afraid or embarrassed to speak to anyone. The amount of youth with depression has been steadily increasing year after year, but no one has reached a solid consensus as to why. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies argue constantly about treatments and causes but there hasn’t been any final word yet. It is swiftly becoming the most common diagnosis in Canada, with the amount doubling in the past ten years.
Depression brings feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and misery. Depressed people don’t take enjoyment from every day things that used to bring grins to their faces, withdraw from social activities and often have thoughts of death and suicide. Suicide is the second most common cause of death for young people in Canada, and it’s an issue that the government does nothing to prevent. According to the Canadian Institute of Health Research for every youth that succeeds in killing themselves there are two hundred who try and fail.
There are many treatment options available for depression, including medication such as SSRI antidepressants, MAOI inhibitors, benzodiazepines, atypical antidepressants such as Wellbutrin or desipramine, anti-psychotics such as Seroquel (quetiapine), and in extreme cases electroshock therapy along with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) among many other psychiatric treatments. These can be expensive and potentially routes to take however, and many depressed people just don’t have the money to afford them. There are a wide variety of antidepressant drugs used to treat depression, we all see the adds on TV for Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil, and a plethora of other medications. Though doctors prescribe them to young people all the time, many of these drugs, including Pfizer’s ever-popular wonder drug Zoloft have been proven to actually increase the risk of suicide in people under the age of twenty. Doctors and drug companies are aware of these deadly side effects yet they still aggressively market the pills to doctors and patients, spending billions on advertising.
Feelings of helplessness and isolation go hand in hand with depression. Thankfully there are some options youth have to talk to people who will really listen to their problems without being judgmental. There is a teen helpline available for young people, and an adult version for those who need to talk to someone and for whatever reason don’t feel comfortable talking to their friends or family, as well as a suicide hotline for those who feel that they’ve run out of hope.
This second Great Depression is a major issue nowadays and it is not one that should be belittled or ignored. Chances are you, or someone you know suffers from some sort of psychological disorder, and it’s not something to be ridiculed or kept in the dark any longer. Mental illness isn’t something to be waved away with a miracle cure, but if we take it seriously, and actually listen to the stories of the people who’ve been affected by it, then perhaps a positive difference can be made.
-Tj Brown © 2014