Reactive depression, just like sadness, cannot be avoided. It has many causes such as stress, unmet expectations, piled-up problems, injured self-esteem, breakups or failed ambitions.
This kind of depression is what most of us are familiar with, since it is defined as a stronger offshoot of sadness, and it often espouses temporary emotional imbalance and negative thinking.
Rarely does it ever trigger suicidal tendencies, but sometimes, this kind of depression succeeds in damaging one’s outlook in life, if not treated properly.
Now there is another kind of depression known as clinical depression. This is triggered by the chemical imbalance in one’s brain, causing a person to have little control over his/her emotions.
Regardless of social standing or number of friends on Facebook, we have to face this truth: We all get depressed.
We all experience profound sadness, and often feel like it’s the end of the world when things don’t go as planned.
But it is heartbreaking for someone as great and influential as Robin Williams to commit suicide because of depression.
This tragic situation opens us to the reality that many people find depression almost impossible to handle, and that they resort to drastic measures such as substance abuse and eventually suicide.
We asked some teens and tweens what causes their depression, and how they handle it.
“I usually get depressed due to what people call me (e.g. hopeless, stupid). To feel better, I have to rant or cry it out. And to cheer myself up, I have to tell myself good things and draw.”—Maiqui Yu, 18, De La Salle College of Saint Benilde
“I probably get depressed mostly because of stress—from my studies, my social life, my family, worrying about the future. Also, I get depressed maybe because of unmet expectations. I try my best to handle it on my own. I try my best to think positive by learning from bad experiences and reading self-help books. If all these fail, I turn to other people for help, my friends and family.”—RJ Nitura, 18, UP Diliman
“I experience extreme sadness whenever I feel my circumstances in life are too heavy for me to bear. This can usually be aggravated by a feeling of isolation, coupled with actual lack of support from friends and family. Apart from reaching out to people around me, I also find that being Catholic helps me see things in a different light. On better days, my relationship with God becomes an actual source of strength for the trying moments of my life.”—Francisco Jose Garcia, 20, UP College of Medicine
“I get depressed whenever I see other people who seem to do ‘better’ than I do; I feel really bad about it. I handle depression by taking a breather when things become too much to handle. I listen to happy or positive songs that give me good vibes. I also talk to people I trust, about my feelings because I find it very hard to keep my emotions bottled up. I found out that if I do this, one day, everything will just explode, like a long-dormant volcano. Lastly, I step back from everything and take time to reflect and pray to God to give me the strength to be able to surpass this challenge.”—Hannah Denise Dee, 19, University of Santo Tomas
“I believe that there is no one true reason a person is depressed—a person can be predisposed to it genetically, or can simply have a glass-half-empty outlook. It does not matter what the reason is; depression cripples human beings and needs to be treated right away. Handling depression is easier said than done, and it is not as simple as realizing that you are loved or just waking up one morning and saying, ‘I’m not depressed anymore!’ although that’s a good beginning.
“After seeing some of my friends combat depression, I realized that depression is a battle you fight every day. The first step to overcoming depression is telling someone—a friend, a parent, a sibling, a counselor, anyone. It may seem extremely difficult at first, but it is certainly not impossible. The road to recovery is a struggle, but in the end, it is worth it.”—Frances Ho, 15, Immaculate Conception Academy
“I usually get depressed due to academics or schoolwork. When I get low in an exam, when the homework load is too heavy, or when I still do not understand a lesson after trying all means, I feel very empty and alone. To cope, I have my friends I can tell my problems to, and they do their best to comfort me. I also try to take breaks once in a while, and most definitely, I eat a lot to forget these negative thoughts.”—Patricia Vargas, 18, Ateneo de Manila University
“A few years ago I was in a state of depression. I was heartbroken and didn’t even know how to survive another day, so I just kept pushing myself to go on. Depression affected my mental state and caused paranoia. I was emotionally unwell, had constant bouts of rage and anger toward multiple things, and, worst, I was in a horrible physical state. I was 25-lbs underweight and barely got enough sleep at night.
“One way I was able to overcome depression was by forcing myself to move on. The one thing I’ve learned from depression is that life is meant to be hard, but it isn’t meant to be hateful.”—Sage Tapales, 15, De La Salle Santiago Zobel
“Watching the news and seeing the terrible things that happen to people every day—bombings in places such as Gaza, accidents like the Korea ferry incident and the recent missing flights, food and water shortage—is depressing. It’s hard to be optimistic about our world when we are exposed to so many heartbreaking stories every day, so we think, ‘Can things really get better?’
“Knowing that people have the power to transform society together and believing that today’s youth, including myself, can play our parts in making the future brighter by learning from past mistakes of mankind—this mindset helps me fight the depressing and pessimistic thoughts I develop about our world. People have always had and will always have the power to improve or change things, whether in their own lives or in society. That’s what I think.”—Jeewon Lee, 18, Harvard University