Let’s hear it from a counselor | Inquirer Lifestyle
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Let’s hear it from a counselor

Rory Catipon, guidance counselor at the Ateneo de Manila University.

Why is suicide or depression prevalent among the youth?

Adolescence, which can begin as early as 13 until about 21 years old, is a time when emotions are naturally heightened along with hormonal changes. Emotions are largely triggered by relationships with people one is closest to—family, or even a lover. The quality of their relationships often define many young people’s identities of themselves, including what is important to them. Sometimes, there are mismatches between what they experience and what they think and feel, which heighten the crisis, leading to frustration. Frustrations can sometimes lead to depression that can be accompanied by suicidal thoughts.

What are the signs or symptoms of someone undergoing depression? Is there a way one can check?

These are some symptoms:

Prolonged sadness, loss of interest in daily activities

Previous attempt to hurt one’s self

Preoccupation with death

Statements like, “you would be better off without me” or “I wish I were dead.”

Talking openly about wanting to kill oneself (or even someone), of plans to carry it out—these could appear in social networking sites or blogs they may be writing

Self-inflicted injuries, such as cuts, burns or head banging

Engaging in risky behavior such as driving recklessly, using drugs or having unprotected sex

Making out a will or giving away favorite possessions

Inappropriately saying goodbye

Making ambiguous statements like, “You won’t have to worry about me anymore,” “I wish I could go to sleep and never wake up” or “I just can’t take it anymore”

Suddenly switching from being very depressed to being very happy or calm for no apparent reason

In schools, there are ways to check for depression through tests and routine interviews.

Who can the victims of depression talk to?

It is always good for a depressed person to talk to anyone they are comfortable talking to. When friends feel a depressed person needs more help, it will be helpful for them to agree to see someone professionally to help them feel better and in control again. In school, it will help for them to talk to a counselor who may refer them to other professionals who can be of help.

How will you deal with a person battling depression?

The first thing one needs to do when faced with a person going through depression is to listen very well, so as to allow that person to express himself or herself and to feel validated. From there, we can work on finding out what they want and identifying a small step they would like to  take to feel  better. Encouraging the depressed person to talk to a counselor or to a doctor could be the first step to feeling better.

What can parents do to understand?

Information is power. If parents have observed that their children are depressed, they can look for information on the Internet, or seek the opinion of either a school counselor or the family doctor so they can calmly explain to their children that there are people who can help them feel better. These professionals will be able to refer the parents to the right professionals, which could include a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist.

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