Teenage Boys And Depression
The start of this post was written almost two years ago about the beginnings of my eldest sons fight with depression, anxiety and the medical profession.
Good morning to you all. The sun is making a sterling attempt at showing its face today and I can happily report that my little demons (anxiety and depression) are currently off on a little break leaving me feeling very well.
I have to report though that not everyone in my household can claim to be experiencing such good mental health.
I would like to introduce you all to my eldest boy M, otherwise known as the man-child. He is 19 years old and currently lives half the week with myself and the other half of the week with his father.
Now I am well aware that depression can have a strong genetic basis so it was no suprise to me when the man-child in recent months has confided in me about his feelings of fear, nausea a sense of dread that has no obvious cause and general unhappiness. He knows that I suffer from anxiety and I am glad that because of our close relationship, he feels able to come to me for advice.
The advice I gave was two fold, firstly to do all the self help techniques I use relating to diet, caffeine, sleep and exercise. The second bit of advice I gave him was to go and talk to his doctor.
He came back from the doctors a week later very unimpressed with the way he had been treated. Despite seeing a female doctor and explaining to her his symptoms and his family history (maternal grandmother and uncle are bi-polar, paternal grandfather schizophrenic, both parents with depression) the doctor fairly much dismissed his concerns that his anxiety and depression was getting worse and just sent him away with a leaflet thay contained less useful information than I had given him.
I have subsequently did a bit of research about depression in teenage boys on the Internet as a means of finding additional support for my boy and have on my search found some facts that in addition to his treatment by the doctor seriously concern me.
The facts on teenage depression
10-15% of teenager will be suffering a depressive episode on any given day.
25% of all teenagers will have suffered a depressive episode at least one depressive episode.
Girls are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression after the age of 11 as boys are. This should be good news for boys, except that it could also indicate that many boys such as mine are being wrongly turned away rather than being taken seriously.
suicide is the 3rd highest cause of death in young men between 17-24
It is this last fact that concerns me more than any other as it supports the view that these boys are being ignored, possibly viewed as just being troublesome moody teens until such time as they can take no more.
For my man-child my concerns for his long term mental health are not that severe. He has a good network of friends, he has taken a massive step by recognising he has a problem and seeking help and lastly he has me, a nagging worrying mother and fellow sufferer.
Back to 2015
Im afraid to report M has not had a good couple of years. Despite an obvious deterioration in his mental health, his doctors continued to treat it as a non serious problem for a further year. Because M is over 18 his doctor did not feel it was necessary for him to have any chaperone with him at his appointments, although M has very mild learning problems and hearing problems.
In the past year he has been diagnosed with depression and is being treated for this, but (and this is a HUGE but) the doctor still does not think M has bi-polar. I know I am not a medical person, but as someone who has seen family members and service users I look after suffer from manic episodes, I recognise the signs. Everything about M changes. He cant sit still, he talks too fast and makes no sense, he doesn’t take his medication, he takes stupid dangerous risks. Basically he thinks he is invincible.
The doctor says this is simply a slight exaggeration of the behaviour typical to males of his age.
I fear what the future holds for M. He has not got a job. His behaviour has already got him in trouble with the police. He has a 3 month old son who he is not allowed to see (I guess that makes me a nan, but there is no joy in that).
I just hope at some point someone in the medical profession will look beyond his age and start seeing the obvious symptoms he is displaying.
Do you have any experience of young adults and mental illness? Are there other places M can go for suitable advice and support?
Blurt Increasing Awareness and Understanding of Depression
M.I.N.D Mind, the mental health organisation
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