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Adolescents, Depression, and Self-Esteem

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By bradfotx26
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Depression in adolescence has been recognized as a clinical problem for twenty-two years. Many believed that signs of depression were simple behavioral problems that the child would grow out of. Psychiatrists believed that children were both emotionally and cgnitively immature to endure depression. Childhood was considered to be worry free, no true concerns, happy time. Therefore, their problems were not serious enough to be labeled depression. There was never a clear understanding as to how abuse, divorce, and incest could have a long term effect on children. Childhood depression differs in many aspects from adult depression. Decrease in academic performance, withdrawal and rejection of friends and favorite activities are some of the main unrecognized signs. Some may also exhibit hyperactivity, while others complain of exhaustion and illness. Many times these symptoms are thought to be just a phase in their children, and observed as signs of depression. Children of all ages from infancy through adolescence can suffer from a disorder mood. The symptoms tend to change based on the child's level of development. Depression in infants is often determined based on the child’s failure to grow physically, act unresponsively, and inability to thrive. Although it is rarely seen in babies, it is often due to lack of nurturing relationship between the infant and the caregiver. Postpartum depression has the ability to affect the mood of the infant. It affects approximately 25-30% of mothers and is typically caused by a separation, illness, death, or a broken bond. These mothers tend to show less affection towards their child. Babies are sometimes rejected because they are unwanted, premature or abnormal. Preschoolers are more restless, self-isolating, aggressive, and overwhelmed by sleeplessness and nightmares and are less adaptive to make friends or follow rules when depressed. Older, school-age children may be reluctant to attend school, feel misdirected guilt and express their depression by changes in mood and behavior. One in every ten children 6-11 years-old is depressed. Family dysfunction and low self-esteem are the two major contributors of depression in children of this age group. Periods of sadness are a normal reaction to failure, distress, and disappointment. Inevitably, the period of sadness will last longer if due to major life changes such as death, divorce, or other major life stressors. There is a clear indication of depressed mood when the sadness lasts longer than it should. This is apparent once school, home, or peer relationships become affected. The diagnosis is typically made if an individual has a depressed mood or irritability for most days for a full year and exhibit at least two days of the following symptoms; insomnia or excessive sleep time, low energy or fatigue, poor appetite or overeating, inability to concentrate, low self-esteem, and a feeling of hopelessness. Children with a major depression are sad or irritable most of the day for at least two weeks and have lost pleasure or interest in activities they normally would enjoy, extreme weight loss/gain, lethargy/hyperactivity, feelings of unnecessary guilt, low self-esteem, indecisiveness or frequent thoughts of death are all symptoms. Another aspect of adolescence is alcoholism. Despite the problems caused to young and old by alcohol, society sends a mixed signal to its youth. The media presents beer drinking with peers as not only acceptable but almost mandatory in order to insure friendship and good times. Wine is presented as a sophisticated and romantic beverage, which is drunk in a setting of dim lights, soft music, and expensive decor. Hard liquor is portrayed as the perfect drink to top of the day and to be enjoyed with the glamorous company of the opposite sex. We joke and laugh about alcohol consumption, our own and others. Parents and teachers look forward to their "happy hour" at the end of the work day. We use euphemisms to avoid the reality of alcohol abuse. We rarely say we are going to get drunk; instead we talk about "partying." We prefer to say that we or someone else is turned-up, smashed, or wasted rather than to call it what it is, drunk. Drinking alcohol is presented as routine behavior in many television programs and movies. "Can I fix you a drink?" is a familiar opening line in television and movie conversation. Occasionally, movies present a stark and realistic picture of alcohol abuse. But most of the messages we send to children are mixed and confused. In fact, many adults' attitudes about alcohol are confused. Our schools reflect the confusions of the larger society in the messages they send to their students about alcohol use. Our curriculum guides in health talk about the responsible use of alcohol. We don't consider teaching the responsible use of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. Society is not confused about what it wants its schools to teach its youth about these drugs. But alcohol is viewed differently. No other drug presents this problem to our schools and society. Another adolescence aspect as I mentioned above, is self-esteem. A large portion of adolescence's self-esteem is based on their perceptions of how the important adults in their lives judge them early on. The extent to which children believe they have the characteristics valued by the important adults and peers in their lives weighs greatly in the development of self-esteem.
Low self-esteem is the underlying cause of most cases involving: anger, anxiety, panic attacks, fear, depression, eating disorders, social anxiety disorders, avoiding personality disorders, dependent personality disorders, gang violence, relationship problems, domestic abuse, child abuse, and addictive behavior. Self-esteem includes the feelings and thoughts that we have about ourselves, how component we feel, and how optimistic we are that we can succeed.
Once low self-esteem is formed, the fear and anxiety that accompanies it affects everything a person thinks, says, and does. Many who have low self-esteem avoid seeking new jobs, initiating relationships, or learning new skills for fear of rejection or failure. Many avoid social setting and refrain from sharing their opinions for the same reasons. Some isolate, become people pleasers, and remain passive. Others get aggressive and cause chaos in their relationships. When people with low self-esteem do something they perceived as stupid or inappropriate, they instantly feel humiliated and suffer from self-esteem attacks. At these moments they desperately want to run and hide. They may even fall into depression and devastation episodes which may last for minutes, hours, days, or even weeks. Afterwards they feel even more embarrassed to face the people who they think are aware of their problem. The most effective and lasting treatments is a combination of working to improve one's self esteem along with learning techniques to manage anger. Majority of the time when people seek therapy or enter into anger management classes, self-esteem is not even discussed. Most emotional causes of low self-esteem are due to the children having insecurities about their appearance and ability. Low self -esteem is associated with emotions by many factors. A child who is abused may suffer from low self-esteem. Both physical and mental abuse can be detrimental to a child’s level of self-esteem. Emotionally, low self-esteem affects a child's development in many ways. If the child is insecure about his or her mental ability, then the child will not be confident in himself. This may cause the child to be easily embarrassed and shy. It may also cause them to withdraw from their peers and become isolated. Individuals incur various changes during the period of adolescence. These changes are all part of puberty, and for most adolescents this brings on a sort of embarrassment over their bodies growing and maturing process. Physical appearance may affect a child’s level of self-esteem because he or she may not be secure about themselves. Children and adolescents with low self-esteem are more likely to have problems with peers. Furthermore, they are more prone to psychological disorders such as depression. They are also likely to exhibit antisocial behavior. In addition, they tend to have poor school performance. Low self-esteem is formed in childhood as a result of negative situations the child experiences such as having parents consistently take the side of others against the child or having their feelings ignored and discounted. Also, being blamed for the parent's current problem or being threatened with abandonment may result in self-esteem issues. How can we help children develop a healthy sense of self-esteem?
Developing confidence and security will help children feel more secure about them. Parents may help their child feel lovable and capable, which are the two main ingredients of self-esteem. There are numerous ways a parent may help develop this characteristic. It is important to the child that the parent listens, takes his or her feelings seriously, and spends time alone with their child. They can also show their respect and support by allowing their child to make decisions, respecting their child's possessions, and expressing love with words and hugs. As children grow older, they begin to discover that they have special talents and interests. Parents can help by providing opportunities for children to experiment with different activities. Children who enjoy sports might be encouraged to try out a variety of activities such as football, basketball, softball, or swimming. An interest in music might lead to piano lessons or church choir. The focus is to explore a variety of interests while trying not to overdo any one thing at a particular time. Childhood should be a relaxed, stress-free time for discovery and experimentation. Parents can play an important role in strengthening children's self-esteem by treating them respectfully, taking their views and opinions seriously, and expressing appreciation to them. They may also find ways to expand adolescence confidence by encouraging them to believe in their own ability. Above all, parents must keep in mind that self-esteem is an important part in every child's development. In conclusion, I believe adolescence is a very difficult period of life. Therefore, parents should be very careful and observe difficult behaviors from their children. Problems should be tackled from the early stage otherwise they may cause too many problems for the children and their families. Although it is apparent that self-esteem sometimes reflects perceptions that may not be a reality. Majority of self-esteem issues can intensify by enduring a troubled family life, difficult school transition, or other stressful events. It is possible to improve levels of self-esteem by: identifying the cause of low self-esteem, providing social approval and emotional support, foster achievement, and help adolescents cope with the underlying issue. Although it may seem as if self-esteem issues are ongoing, some may only last for a period of time. Self-esteem may fluctuate throughout the life span. It is possible that one may develop higher levels of self-esteem with as they accomplish goals and reach a higher level of development. For instance a teen-age girl may be unhappy with her body, but has she fully develops she may learn to idolize more of her positive features. It has been proven that self-esteem increases with better job opportunities, marriage, better social relationships etc. However, they should not go unnoticed or left untreated. This may be a cry for help as adolescents have a difficult time identifying a solution to their problem. They may resist opening up initially, but will later be ecstatic to feel high levels of confidence.

References:

Unknown, Anaclitic Depression. Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://www.findarticles.com/cf_dls/g2602/0000/2602000035/p1/article.jhtml

Michael Windle, Gale Encyclopedia of Childhood and Adolescence. Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://www.findarticles.com/g2602/0000/2602000017/p1/article.jhtml http://mph.ufl.edu/files/2012/01/session10mar23Stu_Petersen_Compas_Brooks-Gunn_Depression-in-adolescence.pdf LeCrone, H. (2001). Nurturing you child's self esteem. MDAdive Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://www.mdadvice.com/news/2001/02/02/tad-z/3386-0119-pat_nytimes.html

Marsh, H., Yeung, A. (1999). The ability of psychological ratings: The chameleon effect in global self-esteem. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,25, 49-64.

Sharma, V.(1999). The Negative Outcomes of having Low Self- Esteem. Mind Publications Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://www.mindpub.com/art105.htm

Yarnell, T. D., (1999). Build your Child's Self-Esteem. Psychology and You. Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://www.homestead.com/selfhelpsolutions/build.html

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