While your friend who’s going through a terrible divorce may feel a lot of devastating emotions that may stay for weeks or months, you may be sinking into a major depressive disorder – and family history may be able to explain why.
Perhaps your dad had it, or your sister, or your aunt. Seeing a family member go through depression can be really hard, but does it mean you, too, will suffer from it sooner or later?
Mental illness awareness week happens every October. It is the best time to share information with the public about the challenges and struggles experienced with mental illnesses. The 2014 Miami Mental Health Statistics proved that mental illnesses are more extensive than we realize. In Florida, about 660,000 adults and 181,000 children have serious mental health issues such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and borderline personality disorder.
I was very young when I first witnessed a cousin of mine having an episode of what I think was a neurosis. He was tied in a bed and was struggling. All I know at that time is that they can’t restrain him from aggressive outbursts. His mom was crying, and grandma was taken aback by what was happening.
That was not the first time actually, but that was the worst I have seen so far. Years after, that cousin of mine committed suicide. And he was not the only one in our family who did such. Actually, my grandpa shot himself for reasons I don’t know. My uncle (my dad’s bro) also took away his own life after his wife left him.
I first started to ask myself about it when my partner noticed how quickly I switch moods. She wonders why I occasionally blow hot and cold. Well, man can have his moods, too, but she sees mine as a bit exaggerated. One moment, I’m so into this thing, and with reasons she doesn’t know, am not interested anymore. If she insists, there goes my anger outbursts and aggressiveness. And we will end up with a fight, sometimes serious, other times not quite.
Then, I realized there are days when I would go into depression. Notably, at times when we didn’t end up on a good note, I would just stay in my room for days with the lights off. I would avoid talking to friends and my parents. I would refuse my parents even though I know they’re worried about me. I was just there curled up in my bed, then would be down the floor, back to the bed again, then would stare out the window. At times, I have these deep thoughts; other times, it seems I have nothing on my mind at all, just there thinking of nothing really. But worse is when I would cry as I write notes on my walls, pages of notebooks, and even at the back of some photos.
I Shared My Thoughts Once, And It Made Me Wanna Kill Myself
I was confused. I had a flashback as if I was seeing my cousin yelling with his angry outbursts, imagining how my grandfather and uncle took away their own lives. Have they passed on that craziness on me?
“Oh, it’s in my genes.” (Sobbing)
I shared my feelings on social media, and all I got are upsetting words. Not even one comment sympathize or seems affected by what I posted in there.
“Hey, people, feel like I wanna kill myself.” And the voice in my mind is nagging me to do it, “NOW.”
What should I do?
With the negative comments I received, I drank until I passed out. I woke up in the hospital. My mom was crying beside me. My wrist still a bit hurting. I wasn’t aware I almost killed myself after I took some Quaalude, which I was able to get online days before and cut my wrist in the bathroom.
My Fears Confirmed!?
It frightened me so much. I was terrified realizing I could have it. I saw a psychiatrist who doesn’t want to conclude if its hereditary. According to him, there could be a number of reasons behind my acts, not just the genes.
He is also thinking that I might just be engrossed with the idea of mental illness being passed on to me because of the things I witnessed when I was young. I need to go through tests, observations, and therapy sessions to make a final conclusion. I was given meds to calm my nerves when I have attacks.
For now, I feel a bit lost, but I’m trying to find myself. I was confused but trying to be strong.
Anxiety disorders, as well as mental illnesses in general, have historically been treated with less importance than other diseases, partly due to its effects manifesting more on the mind than on the physical body.
This is another case of examining which comes first — did depression cause the eating disorder or did the eating disorder cause the development of depression? Singularly, these are two separate mental states that need exclusive treatment. However, if these are present in one person, then the treatment plan is more complex and will require the intervention of psychiatrist, nutritionist and primary care physician.
Depression comes as black clouds in the sky during childhood, the most beautiful season in our lives. Clinical depression makes a child gloomy, aloof and takes away his innocence and simplicity.
One of the major reasons for childhood depression is the persistent feeling of, as Betterhelp says, “no one cares”. Feeling deprived, ignored or unheard can make any child morose and develop negative thoughts. Persistent feelings of sadness and grief interfere with the normal functioning of children, making them inactive, aloof and low all the time.
There are several reasons why depression triggers in childhood. Especially in these changing times, multiple issues contribute to a child’s unhappiness.
Broken homes, parental divorce/separation, loss of a parent.
Being a victim of trauma (natural disasters, wars, abuse, etc.)
Getting bullied (at school or home).
The warning signs
Feelings of sadness and hopelessness persisting for over 2 weeks
Lack of energy in playing or doing activities the child used to enjoy do
Significant changes in appetite and sleep
Vocal outbursts or crying (even in petty matters)
Physical ailments that are not responding to treatments (such as stomach aches, headaches, muscle cramps)
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt with impaired thinking or concentration and experiencing fatigue
Thoughts of death or suicide
Remarkable changes in all social activities like sports, studies, social interactions, etc..
Poor academic performance and complete loss of interest in studies/school.
7 ways of managing childhood depression
Talk to your child – Children often fail to identify the real cause of depression. They would just feel sad and don’t know why. Parents, teachers, siblings or caregivers can take the first step by helping the child talk about how he/she feels. Talking out also makes the child feel important and understood.
Visit the pediatrician – Childhood depression often comes up with physical ailments that become the focus of concern instead. A full exam by the doctor helps let you know better about the health conditions of your child that can cause depression like symptoms.
Consult a therapist – It is always good to consult a child psychiatrist or a therapist if the symptoms persist. A professional guidance ensures a better solution. Usually, for moderate to severe depression, the treatment involves Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Short-term Family Therapy, and Supportive Counselling.
Be cautious about your child’s nutrition – Be vigilant about your child’s diet. Always ensure that your child is getting a balanced and healthy diet with all the essential nutrients. See that he/she gets the optimum amount of sleep. It is important that they get daily physical activity. These have many positive effects on mood and provides nourishment for a healthy mind and body.
Enjoy time together – Go for a walk, play games, cook, watch funny movies, make some art and craft items. These will gently encourage positive emotions and moods and overcome depressive moods.
Act with patience and kindness – When suffering from depression, kids often act grumpy and irritating. Try to be as calm as you can and let the child feel safe. Using harsh words does the worse.
Build a positive relationship – A positive relationship with parents, siblings, and friends helps strengthen a child’s resilience against depression. It is very important for parents to become good friends with their children so that they can share their feelings freely.
Life cannot always be easy and comforting, not even in childhood. But with affection, love, and support from close ones, children can easily get over depression.
Reach out to your children, notice their behavior, stand in their shoes, be there anytime they need you.
As Pam Leo has rightly said, “Let’s raise children who won’t have to recover from their childhoods”.
Encopresis and Enuresis are disorders in kids that parents and family should be knowledgeable of in order to deal with them.
Encopresis is a disorder that poses repeated feces passage at inappropriate places which include the floor or the clothing of the child. Most of the cases of Encopresis Disorders are involuntary, but there are situations when the act is intentional.
Involuntary Encopresis is usually related to the following:
Retention with Subsequent Overflow
Due to psychological reasons, constipation may develop in the process. It could be due to the anxiety of having no control to defecate in a particular place or the necessity to follow a pattern of oppositional or anxious behavior. With this anxiety, it forces the person, in the end, to avoid defecating at all.
Some of the physiological predispositions when it comes to constipation are the following:
Medication Side Effect
Dehydration Associated with Febrile Illness
Complications may even occur once constipation has developed, including:
Further Fecal Retention
The consistency of the feces may vary from normal to liquid form. Most of the cases for the latter though is a result of overflow incontinence secondary to the fecal retention.
Encropesis disorder cases can occur for at least 3 months. Its chronological age, which is equivalent to the developmental level, can reach up to at least 4 years. This disorder is not related to general medical conditions or as a physiological side effect of substances like laxatives.
For treatment of Encropesis disorder, some experts would encourage appropriate bowel habits. For severe cases though, they may recommend laxatives or stool softeners to cater to constipation.
Enuresis disorder is the repeated voiding of urine that can either be involuntary or intentional. The voiding of urine can happen anytime, from the day to night and even when on the bed. The disorder can be manifested by:
Twice a week or at least 3 consecutive months of occurrence
Clinical distress in professional, academic, or social functions
Its developmental level can take at least 5 years and it may not be exclusively caused by direct physiological effect from a substance or a medical condition.
There are three subtypes of Enuresis Disorder that a child can suffer in, including the following:
Diurnal Only. This specific subtype is when the person voids urine during waking hours. More common in females compared to males, the Diurnal Enuresis Disorder becomes uncommon after the age of 9 years. The incidences occur more frequently during the early afternoon. It is sometimes caused by the person’s reluctance to use the toilet due to preoccupation with an activity or it can be due to social anxiety.
Nocturnal Only. This is considered to be the most common form of Enuresis Disorder, where kids void urine at night. Incidents usually occur on the first one-third of the night and happen most commonly during the REM or rapid eye movement stage of sleep. In fact, the kid may even recall a dream that includes the act of urinating.
Diurnal and Nocturnal. This is the subtype combination of both the two forms mentioned above.
Treatment for Enuresis Disorder comes in the form of Desmopressin acetate. This therapy is for children and known to lessen the frequency of instances.
Kleptomania is a rare condition where one has the constant urge to take something that is not his. It doesn’t have to be of any value, or he doesn’t even need it. Kleptomaniacs feel satisfaction after a successful theft. This condition has been very controversial and mysterious as people who have kleptomania are living with shame and keep their situation a secret.
Empty Nest Syndrome is the depression aged people go through after their children leave home. Feeling empty, lonely and left out, the ‘second childhood’ (old age) brings in a surge of pain and grief. BetterHelp’s post talks more about this, and how a professional psychologist can help for those that really struggle with this.
Empty Nest Syndrome is not diagnosed as a depressive disorder, it is rather a phenomenon that old people undergo. There is still less awareness about how we can help parents cope with this.
The challenges of Empty Nest Syndrome
After the child moves out, parents face crucial challenges that become a harsh reality for them to handle.
Adjusting themselves with the changing parent-child relationship.
Reverting back to normal life without kids and finding new ways to fill the emptiness they are left with.
Taking care of the household and other work which they often find difficult to do.
Trying to accept the normality of the phenomena is the biggest challenge. All parents know that it is completely normal for the child to move out, yet the pain seems unbearable to them.
For single parents, the situation is even more difficult as they are left to live all alone.
The symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome include
Unbearable sadness and grief when the child leaves home.
Difficulty in carrying out the usual daily life functions.
Reduced appetite and sleep.
Frequent spells of crying and holding back to old memories.
Difficulty maintaining a good relationship with the child after he/she moves out. Parents might blame the child out of distress.
The Coping Strategies for the sufferers
Coping with the distress of Empty Nest Syndrome is not an easy task after all. The main reason for this is the age group of the sufferers. It cannot be denied that people in old age have less adjustment and acceptance capacities than young people. Hence the sadness seems unbearable for them.
Engage in activities that you like – Doing things that make you happy is always a good way to uplift the mood. Resort to work like gardening, nature walking or cooking to keep yourselves engaged with the things you like to do.
Meet up with old friends – Consider old age as a permanent break from all the duties and responsibilities you have been doing for years. Meet up with old friends, hang out with them and rejuvenate the old memories of life. It brings happiness and fills in the void.
Spend quality time with yourself – Though it seems very difficult to look beyond the grief, try to pamper yourself as much you can. Cook your favorite dish, go out for shopping and redefine your self-worth that got burdened with the years.
Set up frequent meetings with children and their family – Meet up with your kids, go to their homes or invite them to yours. This can create some beautiful memories that would improve the parent-child relation.
Expect less, accept more – Try not to expect anything which can hurt you. People are often less sympathetic towards parents whose children move out as they consider it to be a normal phenomenon that every other parent faces. Expecting to be understood and heard often results in disappointment. Be your own best friend. That is the best way to get over the grief.
Reminiscence therapy – This is advised by therapists and is considered an effective way of coping with Empty Nest Syndrome. Parents who live alone can take out some time, maybe once or twice a week, or as frequently as they like, to go through old pictures and remember the happy moments of the past. Recalling the happy times replenishes the pains even if it is for a short while.
To help parents cope with Empty Nest Syndrome, children should accompany them in sailing through the storm without feeling lonely. The solution for this lies as much in the hands of the sufferer as the ones causing it. Not that anybody is to be held responsible, but the more empathetic children would be, the less painful Empty Nest Syndrome would be for parents.
I remember my own childhood every time I see my kids happy. My kids would laugh together and make jokes to one another. As for me, it wasn’t like that. My brother and I would hide in the closet scared to the bones as we wait until our stepfather would pass out and sleep. If we’d go out before he dozed off, we’d be whipped. At times, Lance and I slept inside that closet overnight, afraid to get out. We’d hold each other and recite the song “You are my sunshine”. That was our way of releasing tension and fear.