Recently, I started seeing many articles about depression, anxiety, addiction and many other psychological problems and that made me feel very concerned so I researched into it.
Mental health is very important for us because it includes our ability to enjoy life and to have balance between life activities and efforts. Unfortunately, today many people have psychological problems and I discovered that in the USA one in five teens have serious mental disorders such as social anxiety, anorexia, bulimia, depression and bipolar disorder. Let me explain some of them, just to show how serious these problems are and why we should not take them for granted.
Social anxiety is a fear of being humiliated or embarrassed and people with this disorder have panic attacks, low self-confidence and are very pessimistic. All of this may often lead to depression and trouble to find their place in the world because of all kinds of fears that are typical for this disorder like talking to strangers or people in authority, going to social events, doing things when other people might be watching and many more. They have poor social skills and often have no friends.
Secondly, another very common disorder is bulimia. It is preoccupation with control of body weight, and just like anorexia the main cause of this disorder is obsession with thinness and fear of getting fat. The ones who have bulimia are not satisfied with their body size and shape so they ’’make themselves sick’’ by vomiting on purpose. All of this usually leads to depression and anxiety. Both anorexia and bulimia are common in girls at the age of 17 to 25.
The last one is the most common disease – depression. The problem is that grown-ups do not take teenage depression as something serious, but it is not just bad mood or tiredness. It can lead to self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide. Depression in teenage years can affect their personality, causing anger, sadness and despair. So, what is the cause of all of this? Well, as a teenager myself I can say that these years are very difficult for us. I definitely would not say that my life at this point is something worth remembering. We have a lot of pressure from many sides; parents, school, and even our friends and society in which we are living right now. Our body is changing and we are trying to understand it, to find our place and purpose in this world around us. Many decisions have to be made in these years and many of us are very self-conscious and feel like they do not have any control over their own lives. They cannot find any support in parents and some of them do not want to share their problems with anybody, because they feel ashamed or they do not want to bother others. Everyday, more and more of us are sinking deep in our own minds, overthinking and trying to find a solution for problems even if it does not seem like there is one. Along with sadness and feeling of worthlessness and guilt comes thought of death and eventually suicide. The alarming number of teenage suicide attempts is terminal and what is really disturbing is the fact that that number is getting higher and higher. It should be taken very seriously when teenagers say how they wished they died or that there is no way out.
While I was researching, I found many websites that can trigger these problems, sites where you can read poems about suicide (’’Suicide, suicide take me away, suicide, suicide, please make it today’’) or see pictures of self-harming as something natural and ’’good enough for someone like them’’. They are actually convincing themselves that they deserve all the pain and unhappiness. I think this really needs to be stopped, because even if someone is on their way to recovery they can always read or see something that can bring old rush of emotions like sadness or numbness. Also, there are many books like John Green’s ’’Looking for Alaska’’ and Stephen Chbosky’s ’’The Perks of Being a Wallflower’’ where depression is not shown as a serious mental disorder. They present it to us as something unique and special. I have read both of these books and I can say that characters have serious problems but they are not presented in that way. I am not surprised that some countries have forbidden these books.
In conclusion, I think we can all agree that TV, magazines and media can take the guilt for eating disorders. Half of them are promoting skinny as something perfect, while the other half is promoting curvy body. That is their mistake; they have to start telling how everyone is beautiful, no matter what size or shape. It does not matter if you are tall or short, if you have got some curves or we can see your collar bones, you are beautiful just the way you are. Teenage girls want to look like their favourite actress or singer, but they can only see photo-shopped faces and bodies. I think that media can really affect this if they change their attitude towards ’’perfection’’. Also, all those celebrities have to take seriously that for some young girls (and boys) they are role models.
The world needs to promote mental health to young people. Teenagers with these problems have to look for help because it is not something to be ashamed of. Society has to take all of this seriously. Everyone deserves to be happy and satisfied.
Dragana Đokić, III-4/2015