I know about depression; I’ve lived around it my entire life.
It’s not a simple thing. Clinical depression, defined as, “feelings of severe despondency, dejection or sadness,” affects an estimated 5.4 per cent of Canada’s population age 15 and up as of 2014. Having depression is a perpetual process of trying to figure out how you can start walking down the road to recovery to feel like you again.
I have seen depression firsthand my entire life: my mother is clinically depressed and so is my uncle. You wouldn’t think you would notice it that much – the individual might just seem a little sadder than normal – but that’s not the case. I noticed my incredibly artistic uncle suddenly not painting or drawing, and my fun-loving mother moping around the house, not being her fun upbeat self.
It really takes a toll on everyone around them; the world is thrown off its regular rotation because of this sudden change in atmosphere. I know that I found it hard to be around them at this point, as I, too, started to feel the pull of sadness. When the people you love are being affected in a way that you can’t stop, you really start to feel heartbroken.
My mom first talked to me about this possibility last winter. She noted that I had been acting strangely, not interacting with my friends or family, and isolating myself. I had, also, been fairly fatigued and had been having problems sleeping. A lack of energy isn’t something that most parents question in their teenage child, but my mom had the right thought.
I’d noticed these things about me and started thinking of the possibility that I might have depression. Since it can be hereditary, we decided to book an appointment with a doctor to talk about it. After some serious discussions, I was told that some blood tests were in order.
We got the results back and I found I was iron deficient. So, we set up a supplement program, but the doctor was still wary about it being just an iron deficiency. He said that if I continue to have problems with my moods, my appetite, or my energy levels, to come back and continue talking about the probability of it being clinical depression. The probability isn’t too high, but is still there and shouldn’t be forgotten.
Clinical depression in youth is overlooked far too often, as the symptoms are common and can be put down to teenage hormones instead of looking into the actual cause. Only about 20 per cent of youth who have depression are conclusively diagnosed due to this.
If you are struggling with depression, don’t hesitate to reach out. The BC Crisis Centre also has a suicide hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE, or you can call 1-800-784-2433 any time. The Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 can also be called whenever you need to.
Cassidy Green is a Grade 11 student in Lauren Frodsham’s writing class at Belmont secondary.