Tackling Depression Among Youths
Why did I choose to talk about depression? Well, that’s because, I noticed that half of our teens are depressed. But before we go into that, what is depression?
Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affect how you act. There are different types of depression but the most common one is “Clinical Depression”. What is clinical depression? Clinical depression is a mental health disorder characterised by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities. According to my research, it is very common in Nigeria, with more than 1.5 million cases per year.
Depression is a common illness worldwide, with more than 264 million people affected. Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short lived emotional responses to challenge in everyday life. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly at work, at school and in the family. Depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. More women are affected than men. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide. Close to 800, 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 – 29 years old.
The symptoms of depression range from mild to severe. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living. They range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety. Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just few days.
Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong – it is a real illness with real symptoms. Depression is not a sign of weakness or something you can ‘’snap out of’’ by “pulling yourself together”. But do not be scared, there are treatments for it.
There are physical symptoms of depression such as, feeling sad or having a depressed mood. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed. Changes in appetite – weight loss, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, loss of energy or increased fatigue, feeling worthless or guilty, thoughts of suicide, etc.
Over to teen depression. Many teens are suffering from this. Some may know and some may not. There are multiple reasons why a teenager might become depressed. For example, teen can develop feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy over their grades. School performances, social status with peers, or family life each can have a major effect on how a teen feels. Sometimes, teen depression may result from environmental stress. A family history of depression, life stresses such as losing a parent, divorce, or discrimination, and other physical or psychological problems can all contribute to the illness. Children, who have been abused, neglected, have experienced other traumas, or suffer from chronic illness are also at a higher risk for depression. Depression in teens/children often occurs along with other mental problem such as anxiety and bipolar or disruptive behaviour disorder.
Teen depression is much more than feeling temporarily sad or down in the dumps. It is a serious and debilitating mood disorder that can change the way you think, feel and function in your daily life, causing problems at home, school, and in your social life. Yes, the teenage years can be really tough and it’s perfectly normal to feel sad or irritable every now and then. But if these feelings don’t go away or become so intense that you feel overwhelmingly hopeless and helpless, you may be suffering from depression. This is another reason why parents should make out time for their kids. Try to show them that they are not alone in this. Because, once in a while, life throws stuffs at them and of course they’ll need someone to tell it to, someone to advise them. Having someone to tell it to, helps ease it off their chest. If you as a parent is very free with them, if you can communicate very well and if you have a good parental relationship, then I don’t think there will be any need for that child to be depressed. Over thinking turns someone depressed too. So, please try to make time and build a strong parental relationship between you and your child/children. Depression kills.
Other symptoms of teen depression are, having frequent unexplained headaches, or physical pains and problems. Anything and everything makes you cry. You’re extremely sensitive to criticism. You’ve turned to alcohol or drugs to just try to change the way you feel. You’re having trouble concentrating, thinking straight or remembering things. Your grades may be plummeting because of it and most of all, you’re thinking about death or suicide. If you ever feel this way, please talk to someone right away
As a parent too, I advice you try to observe your child properly. Some children are not used to opening up and trust me, some of them have things eating them up. They are just quiet because they feel that if they explain, you won’t understand. Some are quiet because, they don’t understand themselves either. So please help our teens.
While it isn’t always easy to differentiate from normal teenage growing pains, teen depression is a serious health problem that goes beyond moodiness. As a parent, your love, guidance, and support can go a long way toward helping your teens avoid and overcome depression and get their life back on track. Make time for your kids, make them happy, Make them your best friend. That’s all there is to it.
My advice to all the depressed kids out there is to try as hard as you can to get away from it. You’re not in this alone and you can overcome it. Hang out with positive people. Do not stay alone. Try thinking less. Find your happiness and tell someone about your feelings or better still, write it down to just clear your head and mind. Say No to depression. Say No to suicidal thoughts.
Akwu is a student in Port Harcourt.
Children’s Day: Issues And Solutions
May 27 is celebrated every year across Nigeria as Children’s Day. It is a day set aside as holiday for children in Nigeria since 1964 to commemorate the healthy growth and happiness of children.
The day draws attention and brings to the fore awareness on problems faced by children in Nigeria. It also marks a celebration of children helping us appreciate their roles as future leaders.
The theme for this year’s celebration is, “More Money for Primary Education “
To mark the day, The Tide went to town to get the views of some children on issues affecting children in the society.
Here are excerpts of their views-
The Relevance Of Children To Society
– Benjamin Charles
Children are gifts from God. We are a royal heritage of good fortune. Nature and its body cannot exist without us because we make it complete. We bring joy to homes and comfort to many.
The relevance of children to the society is numerous because without us there would not have been potential business tycoons of any sort. Without us there would not have been scientists and technologists who make life easier by their inventions, there would not have been doctors and nurses who look after the sick, lawyers who defend the helpless, teachers who impact knowledge on students, comedians and thespians who help relieve stress from people by making them laugh, counsellors who give advice to people and hope to the depressed.
Obviously without children the world would have been a boring place. Who would have grown to become leaders of tomorrow if not children. Who is it that helps their parents run errands if not children. There is a saying which states that “charity begins at home”. Adherence to good home training is the key to success which makes an individual a good ambassador but by negligence we become terrorists, fraudsters, hackers and so on.
Children need to be given more care and attention where ever they are, be it at home, school, religious places, market places and so on. By so doing parents and societal leaders would have ensured that they curb anything that would hinder the child from becoming a leader because children are the leaders of today, tomorrow and the years to come.
National Development And Child Training
– Abiante Justina Friday
Child education is the instruction, interference, consequences modelling or correction given to a child to guide and secure them from the dangers lurking ahead. National development is the capacity of the country to raise the standard of living of it’s residents. It is also said to be the development of the country for its citizens to live their lives at the fullest. It can be achieved by providing individuals with basic livelihood requirement and supplying citizens with employment.
National development has helped the society and has diversely impacted greatly on the nation. It brings solution to problems such as eradicating poverty, promoting economic status of the state. It generates revenue by making companies and industries diverse in the country.
However, education is important and relevant to national development in many ways as it helps children become their best in their mind and spirit. It gives children a lot of knowledge in all fields of endeavours. Child education reduces crime rate as every child is impacted with more knowledge that makes them determined to succeed and become useful in the nearest future. Educaiton of children makes them responsible in the society.
Parents are to be held responsible for inadequate support given to their children or wards, because as guidians they are expected to be strict to their wards as they are the first social group in the society. Parents should train their children to be respectful. They should be treated equally as any form of discrimination may also lead to children being isolated and become violent, thereby keeping painful moments to themselves, enduring hard time, feeling neglected, taking wrong choices and engaging themselves in things that may endanger their lives and the society.
This may lead to frustration and some may even get introduced to drugs by friends and peer groups which is bad to the society.
Teachers on the other hand also play vital role in the upbringing of future leaders. Training them inadequately may lead to the children becoming terrorists and deviants not only to their famillies but the country at large. Teachers should desist from taking money from students as bribes to enable them pass their exams thereby making them half-baked students.
Also, the government should monitor teachers, especially those in the public sector thereby ensuring that they carry out their duties, also salaries should not be paid for work not properly done. Government should release more revenues which will aid training of children on scholarship. They should also reach out to undergraduates who do not have sponsors through school, rather than letting them get involved in criminal activities, cultism, prostitution etc, just to fend for themselves in and out of school.
In conclusion, child education is very important to national development, as child education determines the future of any nation. When children are educated they give back the goodness they have learnt to the society, but when they are not educated properly,they become liability to the nation and may equally bring very bad name to their parents and country.
The Impact Of Children In The Society
– Isaiah Nahum
Going by world’s population census figures, children constitute the largest population in the world. The society can not be built solely from the top but requires the activeness of our parents to invest in us when we are still young to ensure a good society and the betterment of our lives.
The impact of children in the society needs to be emphasised, this is because children give back to the society what have been impacted to them and they are the future of any society. The society should not play down or do lip service on the educational standard of the children because “knowledge is key”.
Since the amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria in 1914, the society has faced numerous challenges which emanated from the neglect of the children. They have been told that they are the leaders of tomorrow and builders of the society, yet there are no evidence of arrangements to equip them for leadership responsibility.
The society will feel the positive impact of children when they are mentally, politically, socially, technologically and scientifically equipped to compete with the recent developments in “Developed Nations”. Our nation, Nigeria is to invest bountifully in the formal education of the children and also give them the opportunity to develop their capacity through skill acquisition, entrepreneurship and exposure to skills.
Since an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, investments on children if not taken seriously, will only leave negative impact such as terrorism, prostitution and drug addiction on the society.
The society should always remember that “you reap what you sow”.
Crucial Roles Of Child Education
Child education is a crucial aspect of society as it plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of our destiny. It strengthens children with wisdom,acquired skills and morals and important for personal and societal development.
Education not only provide children with the tools to succeed academically but also equips them with important or essential life skills,cultivate their creativity, fosters critical thought, and nurtures their overall well-being. This essay implores the values of child education,emphasises its significance in building a prosperous and sustainable future for individuals and communities.
Child education empowers individuals to realise their full potential and pursue their aspirations. It equips them with foundational knowledge in various disciplines such as mathematics, science, literature, and history, which forms or produce the basis for further academic pursuits. Education enhances cognitive abilities and improves problems-solving skills and encourages intellectual curiosity.
It opens or clears doors to opportunities, enabling children to explore their interests and passions,and help them make informed decisions or choices about their future careers.
Education extends beyond academic achievements and instills essential life skills in children. It teaches them effective communication,team work, time management, and critical thinking skills that are vital for success in personal and professional life.These skills enable children to navigate challenges,adapt to changing circumstances and develop resilience.
Moreover,education provides them with financial literacy, digital literacy,and practical knowledge, empowering them to make responsible choices and become independent individuals capable of contributing to society.
Also,child education nurtures creativity and innovation,encouraging children to think outside the box and explore new ideas. It fosters imagination, artistic expression,and original thinking,helping children develop their unique talents and abilities.
Child education promotes social and emotional well-being, thereby fostering empathy, respect, and inclusivity. Schools and educational institutions provide environments that encourage social interaction,cooperation, and understanding among children from diverse entities.
Child education is vital for building sustainable communities. Education impact knowledge about environmental conservation, sustainable practices,and global challenges such as climate change. It fosters a sense of responsibility towards the environment and encourages children to become active contributors to creating a greener and more sustainable future. Education promotes live arrangement, democratic values,and social justice,empowering children to actively participate in community development and advocate for positive change.
In all,child education is of utmost relevance in today’s world. It is a transformative force that equips children with the knowledge, skills and values necessary to navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world. By investing in child education,societies can empower individuals, cultivate creativity and innovation, promote social and emotional well being,and build sustainable communities.
As we nurture the minds of today’s children, we lay the foundation for a brighter,more prosperous future for generations to come. Therefore, it is imperative for governments, communities, and individuals to recognise the importance of child education and prioritise its provision for the holistic development of our societies and reduce the rise of crimes and vices in our society.
By: Ibinabo Ogolo
Family Day Celebration And Children
Last Monday, May 15, 2023 was celebrated as the International Day of Families. It is a day celebrated annually to promote the importance of families and their significant role in society. It is also a day to raise awareness about the social, economic and demographic changes that impact families worldwide.
The International Day of Families was first established by the United Nations in 1993 to raise awareness and serve as an opportunity to celebrate the unique bond and love that families share.
The theme of this year’s day was, “Demographic Trends and Families”.
Over the years, issues affecting families have been raised including poverty, access to healthcare, domestic violence, hunger and the overall challenges of raising children.
As part of preparations for the thirtieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family, 2024, the 2023 observance of the International Day of Families focused on major demographic changes and their impact on families . The event that took place at the United Nation’s headquarters, New York, shared current knowledge about demographic trends, include ageing and intergenerational solidarity. Also, it facilitated the analysis of their impacts on family life and recommended family oriented policies that can respond to the needs of families around the world.
It is a well known fact that families are at the core of a society. Promoting stronger families can strengthen our communities and the society at large.
The family raises children in their formative years until adulthood. Without family, many would not be where they are today.
It is also known that family closeness helps individuals live longer and regulate personal emotions. This has led to taking care of extended family and also taking care of elders in their old age, which helps improve overall well-being of individuals, provide personal stress relief and help regulate the economy.
Also, family values which are guiding principles that inform how families make decisions and live their lives has been known to be important.
As children grow older, as they make their own decisions, their family values would give them strong moral compass to follow as they navigate different times in a world outside of their homes.
However, over the years, family values to a large extent has eroded. Some core African values were the extended family system, hardwork, honesty, respect for elders in the society, integrity and discipline. Unfortunately, with the coming of civilisation in form of the internet, many families expecially in Nigeria are nonchalant in this area, thereby raising children of questionable characters, leaving behind our strong and positive family values.
Speaking in an interview with The Tide Kiddies/Young World Desk as part of activities marking the International Day of Families, Executive Director, Heathy Life Development Initiative, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) based in Rivers State, Dr. Mfon Utin, stated that, family values have eroded greatly in the society with only about 40 percent of families still instilling family values to the younger ones.
Dr. Utin explained that the reason boils down to the fact that everybody is busy trying to make ends meet for their daily living, adding that, money is now the focus and concern for families is not there anymore.
She also explained that power and achievement have taken family values off most of us, thereby affecting the young ones due to our busy schedules.
According to her, “right now, most children can not speak their native dialects, children are not protected under the family because there is no love, connectivity and concern for each other. When there is no connectivity, children may likely take issues bothering them outside the home”.
The Executive Director advised parents to make out time to train their children through capacity building and mentoring during their craddle ages, not as adults.
“Some families are over pampering their children. They pay people to write WAEC or JAMB for their children, this type of pampering must stop. Parents and family members must have listening ears for the young ones in order to guide and monitor them during different stages of their lives”, she said.
She however called on families to celebrate the annual event for more unity, love, bonding and respect, adding that, “family is a bloodline. Without family, there will be no society, and though, there are some families that do not know themselves, if more awareness is attached to this celebration,it will help our society”, she said.
By: Ibinabo Ogolo
Why Mental Disorder In Adolescents Is On The Increase
The inability of the brain to prune itself of unnecessary connections may be the cause of the wide range of mental health disorders during adolescence.
This was one of the findings from an international collaboration of researchers in the United Kingdom, China and Germany and published in Science Daily in April, 2023.
According to the researchers, the findings may further help explain why people are often affected by more than one mental health disorder and this may in future help to identify those in greatest risk.
The research noted that one in seven adolescents (aged 10- 19 years old) worldwide experiences mental health disorders, according to World Health Organisation (WHO).
It added that depression, anxiety and behavioural disorders such as Attention Defieit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are among the leading causes of illness and disability in young people and adolescents and they will commonly have more than one mental health disorder.
It also noted that, many mental heath problems emerge during adolescence with depression and anxiety as “internalising’ symptoms including low mood and worrying, while ADHD manifests as “externalising” symptoms.
The lead researcher from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, Professor Barbara Sahakian noted that, young people often experience multiple mental health disorders beginning in adolescence and continuing into adult life.
She further stated that, there’s a common brain mechanism that could explain the onset of these mental health disorders during the critical time of brain development.
Here in Rivers State, Nigeria, the situation is not different. According to Nkpobu, Kennedy and Alex-Hart, Balafama of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital(UPTH), Nigeria, in their work, “Pattern of Depression Illness among School Age Children Presenting at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital”, published in Open Journal of Depression last year, noted that, depression is more commonly in adolescents and is the fourth leading cause of illness and disability among adolescents aged 10- 19 years.
In their study of children 10-19 years, seen at UPTH which included 1,096 children with various childhood mental illnesses within the period under review, “out of 238 patients (21.7 percent) aged 10-19 years, treated for depression within the period under review, 129 (54.20 percent) were males and 109(45.80 percent) were females with male to female ratio of 1.18.1.The 15-19 years age group had a higher prevalence of depression 195(81.93 percent) compared to 109(45.80 percent) of those aged between 10-14 years. 136(57.14 percent) patients had severe depression while 49(36.03 percent) had psychotic depression”.
They found out that severe depression was the commonest form of depression among adolescents seen in UPTH, therefore, preventive measures should be instituted in primary and secondary schools in Rivers State to reduce its prevalence.
Furthermore, in a study published recently on Nature Medicine, the researchers noted that they identified a characteristic pattern of brain activity among adolescents which they termed the ‘neuropsychopathological factor’ or NP factor.
The team examined data from 1,750 adolescents aged 14 years from the IMAGEN cohort, a European research project that examined how biological, psychological and environmental factors during adolescence may influence brain development and mental health.
In particular, they examined imaging data from brain scans taken while participants took part in cognitive tasks, looking for patterns of brain connectivity and how different regions of the brain communicate with each other.
They found out that adolescents who experienced mental health problems regardless of the type of symptoms, showed similar patterns of brain activity.
These patterns, the NP factor were largely apparent in the frontal lobes,the area of the brain that is responsible for executive function.
The researchers confirmed their findings by replicating them in 1,799 participants from ABCD Study in the United States of America, a long-term study of brain development and child health.
They also found out that problems with pruning may particularly affect the frontal lobes, since these regions are the last brain areas to complete development in adolescents and young adults.
A medical doctor, Dr Tanye Jia, from the Institute of Science and Technology for Brain-Inspired Intelligence, Fudan University, Shangai, China and the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, United Kingdom, noted that as we grow up, our brains make more and more connections. This is a normal part of our development, adding that, “but too many connections risk making the brain inefficient. Though synaptic pruning helps to ensure that brain activity does not get drowned in ‘white noise’.
“Our research suggests that when this important pruning process is disrupted, it affects how brain regions talk to each other. As this impact is seen mostly in the frontal lobes,this then has implications for mental health “,he said.
The researcher noted that the discovery of the NP factor could help identify those young people at greatest risk of compounding mental health problems.
Also, another medical doctor from Fundan University in Shangai, China and the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, Professor Jiafeng Feng, noted too that, “we know that many mental health disorders begin in adolescence and that individuals who develop one disorder are at increased risk of developing other disorders too. By examined brain activity and looking for the NP factor, we might be able to detect those at greatest risk sooner, offering us more opportunity to intervene and reduce this risk”, he stated.
Researchers have recently learned that the brain is more “plastic” and moldable as previously thought.
Synaptic pruning is the body’s way of maintaining more efficient brain function.
The number of synapses in a human’s brain reaches its peak at about five years.As the brain develops and becomemore mature, connections between neurons do not form quickly. After a period of rapid development during the first five years, synapses begin to be removed and this process is known as pruning. If pruning does not happen correctly, there can be a lot of long term consequences in terms of brain wiring and behavioural problems.
By: Ibinabo Ogolo
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