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What can we do about the constant rise of depression and suicide in young adults?

I am seventeen years of age and have recently come out of a large stage of my life where I dealt with a lot of depression. I have dealt with and still deal with people in high school (and even middle school in some cases) that deal with depression every single day and never have anyone that they talk to about their problems.

I have known people that have committed suicide from the weight of depression upon their shoulders throughout their lives, and have heard about these cases all over the world. I, myself, have been driven to the point where I thought that the only way out of my depression was by suicide because there was nothing to help me.

I want to know your opinions and ideas on the subject of depression and suicide in young adults today and what we can do to prevent these problems in the future. Thanks for listening!

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    Oct 18 2011: I am 17 as well and currently battling with this issue. Anger is the process of being eaten from the inside. Depression is when anger has nothing left to eat. I have always had contempt for the world around me, but lately it has grown to the point where it is almost unbearable.

    Suicide, to put it plainly, is giving up. As harsh as it sounds, that is the truth. We must be strong and understand that life has to go on. I think often about suicide. I write about a lot in lyrics and poems. Though I never considered it as a legitimate option, it still has a presence in my mind.

    The most effective way I combat my depression is by living my life with a vengeance. I try to make every day an adventure and constantly change my routine. Sadly I am alone in this concept because most of the people I know like to "play it safe". I am not impulsive, but rather when I die and my life shall flash before my eyes, I want to make it worth watching.

    Another issue I have to deal with is that my "living life with a vengeance" philosophy often manifests itself as self-destructive behaviors. I hope one day I can resolve that before it is too late
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      Oct 18 2011: Dylan, thank you for sharing so honestly. You shared how you experience life with such eloquence.

      I'm glad to hear you write lyrics and poetry, because you certainly have a writer within! I hope you continue to refine this craft. I believe you have a gift. Who knows - it may be your calling, and why you feel so deeply. That said, I know what it is to live life with a vengeance. I recall a time when I, too, included self destructive behaviors in my description of living life fully. I thought it was a way to experience life in all it's glory, until it occurred to me that self destruction is not living -- and I didn't want to die. I stopped most behaviors that created needless or negative drama in my life, or made me feel badly afterwards. I asked for support from people close to me - and receiving it made me feel more alive than ever. I still have some vices, but since then - I was 24 - my life has been the true adventure, because I authentically feel who I am at all times. I've lost many friends, needlessly, over the years due to their self destructive behavior. It's my hope you leave those behaviors in the past - sooner, rather than later. The real adventure is on the other side of them! I promise it's true!

      You have so much to offer the world. I hope you're around for a very long time. I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for your name on a best seller one day!
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        Oct 18 2011: I think this is an excellent advice and I would encourage every adolescent experiencing anxiety, fear, depression, or anger to write, scribble, draw, sculpt, paint. These certainly are time- and energy-consuming hobbies, but whenever you feel bad, they can help you channel your emotions and express them in whichever way you choose. When I draw, time just flies by and I feel "whole", because there is me, there is the paper, my pencil, and this vision of a picture which is about to materialize on the paper. I never experienced real depressions, but like most of the young people, I had my share of hard times as well, and drawing always helped. Plus, I was proud of my drawings and of the fact that I, the teenager, could actually create something no one else had ever created.

        Do you post your poems somewhere online, for example on deviantART? Readers' comments can be very encouraging and help work up your emotions.
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      Oct 18 2011: It just flashed my mind while reading, thats why I write it down.
      Do you keep a diary?
      If not it may work for you.
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      Oct 18 2011: I agree with what you say Dylan..."Suicide, to put it plainly, is giving up". You sound like a very insightful young person Dylan. I agree that life is an adventure, and I have been known to push the envelope at times, so you are not alone:>) I observe that a lot of people in our world like to play it "safe". My perception of life is as an adventurous exploration, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I want my life to be "worth watching" and worth living as well:>) Keep writing and sharing what is in your heart and mind...it is very valuable:>)
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        Oct 19 2011: I like that, Mark.

        Also, anger is not only a prerequisite to depression, it is also an expression of feeling victimized or out of control. Or it can simply be related to testosterone levels. If anger is directed at those who have wronged you, have something you don't, or situations you cannot control - such as being a square peg in a round hole in a system you feel stuck in, or authority figures you don't agree with, yet must obey - change your reality or stop giving them power. I realize this is easier said than done, but it is that simple.

        Sometimes anger serves too. It can be a catalyst for creativity and expression if channeled well, and not turned inward or towards someone else.
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        Oct 19 2011: Good point Mark,
        It's always good to consider another perception. Perhaps it is an individual's perception in any given moment? Life and death can both be challenging, and I agree with you that anything we struggle against is probably going to be much more challenging. Struggling, wrestling with, or fighting against something is resistance to what "is", and usually causes the challenge to be more difficult.

        I remember 35 years ago, when I contemplated ending my life. I was diagnosed with degenerative disc dis-ease...a progressive degeneration in the spine, which generally causes pain and disability.
        I was only 30 years of age...why me?...how can this happen to me?....What will my life be like if I am totally disabled? Poor me!!!

        I was on pain meds, in traction, wore a neck brace, and was unable to do very much because of pain. After wallowing in pity for awhile, I decided to live, and if I was going to live, it was going to be with gusto!!! Once I could answer the question "why me", with "why NOT me", I could move past the speed bump:>) I took control of my physical and emotional health.

        I sometimes felt like a fish in the big ocean, getting pummelled by the sea, caught in the kelp beds, caught on the fisherman's hook, threatened by bigger fish. I learned to swim with strength, and I learned that I could swim confidently through the kelp beds...I learned how to swim around the fisherman's hook and bigger fish. Life felt like a system I was stuck in, as Linda insightfully says, until I changed my perception of life.

        We need to stop giving situations or people power over us. We need to take control of our lives, and I also agree that anger can be a catalyst for creativity when channeled appropriately. I read a great little book back then, that helped change my thinking/feeling about myself and the role I play in the life experience..."Pulling your own strings", by Wayne Dyer.
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        Oct 19 2011: Yes Mark,
        That is another good way of saying something very similar:>)

        "To stave off drowning, dive down and embrace it
        The sea will spit you back, astonished!"
        (David Brendan Hopes from "A Sense of the Morning - Nature Through New Eyes")
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        Oct 19 2011: Here's another one you might like. I used to post quotes all over my house, and read them until I totally assimilated the meaning:>)

        "Out of its abysses, unpredictable life emerges, with a never-ending procession of miracles, crises, healing and growth. When I realize this once again, I see the absurdity of my belief that I can understand, predict and control life. All I can really do is go along for the ride, with as much consciousness and love as I can muster in the moment".
        (Molly Young Brown)

        This was sort of my mantra during the near fatal head/brain injury and cancer:>)
        Like you say Mark...Thou shalt ride the surf!
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        Oct 19 2011: I'm on a roll now!!!

        If anyone is feeling low or depressed, take a look at this young man, what challenges he was born with, and his attitude about life:>)

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc4HGQHgeFE
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          Oct 19 2011: Although his story is extremely inspiring and admirable and shows a great example of how a person can overcome depression no matter the circumstance, I do not think that stories like this will necessarily help teenagers dealing with depression.
          I am a teenager myself dealing with these problems, and have gone to numerous programs for youths like myself where we were told countless stories like this. And for a short while afterwards myself and others I spoke with felt better, inspired and as if we could conquer anything. But when time wore on depression settled again and as we remembered the stories they served not as a source of inspiration but as agony.
          "This guy has these horrible problems and yet he is happy and enjoying life, so why can't we be like that? What is it about us that makes us unable to sustain our enjoyment and general happiness?"
          There is of course nothing wrong with stories like this and I admire every individual who has overcome depression and difficult circumstances but they do not touch on this particular problem. Every person, young or old, dealing with depression has to be approached from a unique angle. There is no one solution that works for everyone.
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        Oct 19 2011: Dear Maria,
        You are absolutely right, that stories like this may or may not inspire individuals, and there is no one solution that works for everyone. I agree..."Every person, young or old, dealing with depression has to be approached from a unique angle", which is difficult to do on a public forum. At least stories like this helped you to feel better "for a short while afterwards"? That's good isn't it?

        You say that "as time wore on depression settled again". It's important to use whatever practice or method you believe may contribute to a change for you. There may be several different factors that cause you to be unable to sustain your enjoyment and general happiness. You are very insightful in realizing that "there is no one solution that works for everyone".

        Many people on this thread have offered some suggestions, and no one knows for sure what might work for you or anyone else. I do not offer my story, or the story of others, believing that it will solve the challenge for anyone. I offer it only as another possibility. It is up to you, and maybe a health care provider, to take the steps you think may help you move through depression. My love is with you Maria:>)
  • Oct 15 2011: Chris Scott, depression is internalized rage.
    At age 17 it is time for you to find a place in the world. Find a mentor, a career, a friend.
    Aristotle talked about three kinds of friends: best friends, good friends, and useful friends.
    Useful friends are chosen for the use you find in them, giving you a ride or money, telling you the answer, attracting people to you as a pair, etc.
    Good friends are allies, to laugh together, and have good times together.
    Best friends will tell you the truth and bring out the best in you.

    Dante said that God's greatest gift to mankind was freedom of choice.
    We have a choice between life and death. Choose life.

    We have a choice between love and hate. Drop the hate, for that which you hate in the object of your hate will grow inside you, and you will become what you hate.
    Choose love, for if you hate, you are separated from God, for God is Love.

    Read the poem Black Smoke by Shinkichi Takahashi. He was a 20th century Zen Buddhist poet.
    http://www.holistichealtharticles.com/Artz/1178/286/It-s-My-Tail.html
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080513215334AAyRwK8

    Read the short story by Leo Tolstoy, What Men Live By (1885)
    He was to learn three things.
    http://www.online-literature.com/tolstoy/2735/

    Read the fable, The Touchstone, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
    http://www.authorama.com/fables-17.html
  • Oct 10 2011: Oh wait, I found the cure for it.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc4HGQHgeFE
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      Oct 10 2011: WOW...thanks for sharing that link!
      What a beautiful person....loving spirit, important and valuable message to all of us:>)
      • Oct 11 2011: No problem, enjoy. I almost had a chance to see him live (he is a motivational speaker now) unfortunatly I already moved away from collage when he came....sob sob.
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          Oct 11 2011: When I feel challenged in my own life, I look at something like this, and it always minimizes my own challenges. Part of my practice, is to be aware that there are many people facing far greater challenges than mine. I often do volunteer work, which is an effort to help others, and at the same time help myself to realize that my life is really blessed.
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          Oct 13 2011: @ Ilijana, Don't worry he is on facebook (well he has someone do it for him) You'll see one of his 'friends' is Swedenborg, but that's besides the point :)
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    Oct 31 2011: " If your not depressed, your not paying attention".

    Until we grasp the depths of our denial, we can't possibly solve or even challenge the rise of depression.

    Acknowledgment is always the first step. Denial will make things worse, always.
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    Oct 13 2011: Thank you so much Chris for bringing this up.
    Personally I think it is a by-product of humanity loosing sight of reality, our spiritual reality. The more we believe there is no purpose in life, the less we'll like it.
    We are not humans because of our bodies but because of our spirit (one discreet level above the physical). We are really, actually living in the spiritual world.
    http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/documents/TheSpiritualWorld.pdf
    The consequence of being in both worlds at the same time means we have to determine which world things come from.
    When we get a bad smell up our nose we can decide it is from the garbage can next to us. It is not us. Now we can decide to move away from it.

    But when we get a bad thought in our head (that we are a looser and the world would be better of without us) we may (if we do not know any better) think it is us, that it is our thought. But it is not! Living in a spiritual world means we get thoughts put into our mind all the time from two sources. Thoughts we discard disappear, but thoughts we dwell on become ours, part of us.
    The two sources of our thoughts are heaven and hell. Our spiritual freedom is based on the balance between those two. The balance between good and evil. Hell would love nothing more than us believing that their input is ours, that we are bad and should die. This starts with a thought and escalates from then on if we dwell on it.
    The more we loose contact with our spiritual reality, the more depressing things can become.

    The human mind is an amazing 'piece of machinery' :) we can justify any kind of bad action in three seconds flat. The moment a store clerk does not treat us right we have every right to shoplift.
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      Oct 13 2011: Adriaan,
      It is very clear that we are in human form. Many of us do not believe that thoughts come only from heaven and hell. Nor do many of us believe that "our spiritual freedom is based on the balance between those two". I agree with you that the "human mind is an amazing piece of machinery", and we can usually justify any kind of action or belief.

      How about if we stay on topic and explore the question presented....
      "What can we do about the constant rise of depression and suicide in young adults?"
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        Oct 13 2011: How on topic is this ?
        "Hell would love nothing more than us believing that their input is ours, that we are bad and should die. This starts with a thought and escalates from then on if we dwell on it."
        And I started and finished with this concept:
        "The more we loose contact with our spiritual reality, the more depressing things can become."

        "Many of us do not believe that thoughts come only from heaven and hell."
        Well that's what I'm 'complaining' about. If we could only accept the notion that the thoughts that pop into our mind can only come from two sides of the spiritual world and that they are not us.

        When we don't like what we see we can e.g. change the channel or leave the room.
        If we get depressing thoughts into our mind, check if there is a reason to be depressed. If not tell the thoughts to get lost. When we don't take that view, as you know, the depression gets a hold on us and the next thing is suicide.
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      Oct 14 2011: Adriaan,
      I respect the fact that you have certain religious/spiritual beliefs, and we both know that everyone does not share the same beliefs. It seems clear that you would like everyone to embrace your beliefs, and you say that's what you are "complaining" about. Our thoughts DO NOT all come from "two sides of the spiritual world..."...they are not simply from heaven and hell...our thoughts are very much a part of us as we are in human form.

      The messages you continue to write in all of your comments are fine, if the conversation is about religious/spiritual beliefs. However, this topic is: "What can we do about the constant rise of depression and suicide in young adults?"

      I suspect that you believe your religious/spiritual beliefs will "cure" everything, so you may be offering this information out of the goodness of your heart. However, there may be young people visiting this site who are depressed and considering suicide, and the ideas you present are confusing.
      • Oct 14 2011: Colleen,
        Your thoughts are well intentioned as well but the reason for teens and anyone considering suicide can be broken down to simple truths and causes. It's about identity and if the root cause is not exposed, those that suffer will never get better.

        Since when is giving advice to a person to read the Bible anything less than good advice or following biblical teachings. If you have studied the Bible, it's filled with all that you need for a very successful life.

        Since when is spirituality not part of every living moment and every conversation. It does not operate outside of science. If you've read the Bible, it's as high a level of a read as any book ever written. You can read it 100 times and still learn something new every time.

        I struggled for many years with depression. I tried everything. Taking a scientific approach only to it, knowing that science alone has little success on curing it is what young people need to know. The tragedy after 2 years of sessions and no result is important to identify. It takes more. It takes love. it takes support from friends and family. it takes reconciliation with your parents who are statistically the primary cause of it more than not. it takes an understanding to stop being passive especially as a young man. it takes counseling of course from someone you can respect and you find out more about before you trust them with your future. That is a big one actually - get to know who is counseling you. How are they with their family. Are their children of high integrity and do they respect this person? Does the counselor love their spouse unconditionally? They need to be rock stars because their book knowledge is inadequate at best. We know far less than we do know about the human brain. Look to their legacy and how they are seen by their peers and others.
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          Oct 14 2011: Mark,

          You say:

          "Your thoughts are well intentioned as well but the reason for teens and anyone considering suicide can be broken down to simple truths and causes. It's about identity and if the root cause is not exposed, those that suffer will never get better."

          This is a somewhat simplistic outlook and ignores many variables that contribute to the condition.

          I see you also have depression and that you have found relief through a particular course of action. That this treatment (apparently) worked for you does not mean it will work for anyone else. I have experienced full recovery from depression using a completely different approach. For example, my therapist's personal life had no bearing on whether or not they could treat me effectively.

          Depression (the condition) is not an emotional state; it is a physical state that affects emotions.
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          Oct 14 2011: Hi Mark,
          Yes, I have studied the bible...12 very intense years of catholic schooling, which is why I do not practice a religion as an adult.

          I agree that those who suffer from depression and may be contemplating suicide often have identity issues, and there could be many underlying causes.

          I am sorry that you struggled with depression, and glad that you found a solution. I agree that understanding, love, support from friends and family and sometimes counceling can all be important contributers to healing.

          You also say..." it takes counseling of course from someone you can respect and you find out more about before you trust them with your future. That is a big one actually - get to know who is counseling you".

          This is why it is important for us as contributers to a public forum to be mindful about what advice we give to people who are vulnerable. Thanks for reinforcing this idea because it is very important, and it is the point I brought to Adriaan's attention.

          The bible, spirituality and/or religion may have worked for you, but spirituality and religion are not the cause of, or the cure for depression, thoughts of suicide, or any other mental challenge.
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        Oct 19 2011: To Colleen Steen:
        I think your dismissal of Adriaans approach is unfounded. The fact that not everyone believes the same religious ideas as him does not mean that his words cannot be helpful or have an impact.
        One of the ways we used to be able to escape from some harsh truths from our belief in god and heaven and hell. Now everything is said to come from the individual.
        "It is only you that creates your thoughts" means that we are also responsible for those thoughts. We have only ourselves to blame, then for our depression. I think that people should be allowed to find relief through their beliefs wether they are accepted by everyone or not. The fact that we have something other than ourselves to hold responsible, and channeled in religion which is not harmful to anyone else, can be good for you, if not taken to extremes. It's that way with artists too, in the past people believed muses, spirits etc. visited them and gave them inspiration. So if their work was not good, it wasn't entirely their fault and they could let it go and continue their creative process. I think what Adriaan says can help some people, (even if his strong beliefs can be unhelpful or uncomfortable to others) and we should not immediately dismiss his contribution because of his beliefs. He does not present a way for us to cure religion but advice directly to those, whom it can touch, that are battling with depression.
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          Oct 19 2011: Thanks for the feedback Maria,
          Sorry you percieve my comments to Adriaan to be a "dismissal". As you and I have both said, there are many different factors that may contribute to depression, and many different practices and methods to deal with depression.

          As you may notice, I've told Adriaan that I respect the fact that he has personal religious beliefs.

          1.) I reminded Adriaan to stay on topic, which TED supports.
          "How about if we stay on topic and explore the question presented....
          "What can we do about the constant rise of depression and suicide in young adults?" "

          2.) I reminded Adriaan that there may be vulnerable people who may be depressed visiting this site, some of his ideas are confusing, and we need to be aware of that.
          "I suspect that you believe your religious/spiritual beliefs will "cure" everything, so you may be offering this information out of the goodness of your heart. However, there may be young people visiting this site who are depressed and considering suicide, and the ideas you present are confusing".
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      Oct 14 2011: Hi Adrian,

      I appreciate that you started your comment with the qualifier, "Personally I think it is a by-product of humanity loosing sight of reality, our spiritual reality."

      That this is your personal view is, of course, indisputable; whether it is universally true, or "personally true" for others is questionable.

      Personally, I do not share your worldview. However, I do believe that, if your worldview makes you a happier person, then your example will contribute to a decline in depression and suicides in young people.

      When young people see older people who are happy and enjoying life it triggers a natural tendency for optimism. When they see a population of people who are themselves "depressed," it engenders feelings of hopelessness and ennui.

      Of course, there is much more to it than that but I do think one of the best things we can do for "the youth" of today is enjoy our own lives. And if your worldview helps you do that, that's a good thing.
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      Oct 14 2011: Hi Adrian,

      To address one or two specific points you mention:

      Not everyone believes in a heaven or a hell and many of those who do do not see them as physical domains. That many of us believe they exist does not mean they actually do exist. That many of us do not believe they exist does not mean they actually do not exist.

      Thoughts do not originate outside of the brain. Thoughts may be influenced by circumstance, experience, and even by other thoughts that originate in other people's brains; but all thoughts are formed in "a brain."

      Depression is a complicated condition. It is not an emotional state; it is a physical state that effects emotions. One cannot think oneself out of depression anymore than one can think oneself out of having a cold.

      Thinking might provide us with a course of action we can take that will help us recover from a cold or from depression but it is the actions we take (and the natural course of events) that yields results.

      And there are things we can do to minimize our exposure to colds (and to depression.) For example, washing our hands and face regularly will reduce the number of colds we will get. Physical exercise, a healthy diet, and a strong social network will reduce the likelihood we will experience depression.

      But if we get a cold or if we get depression, we need to treat them both.
      • Oct 14 2011: Thomas,
        physical exercise, healthy diet, strong social network are your answers. Wrong answer. It's about love. Don't give up on it. When I suffered from depression I was popular at school, played sports, and ate pretty well. Didn't help me one bit and it won't solve depression from anyone. As you stated, there are lives at stake who may be reading this.

        I can only speak for men but it's a deep father wound at the core most times. Young boys do not have identities and it takes a lot more than what you suggested. not that it's hard. It's refreshing and enlightening and liberating when you do figure out that all that time your dad was not an example of how to love his wife, to give you focused eye contact, to lead a household that felt pride in their family name and traditions, to notice the good his son did instead of just correcting him all the time, and most importantly, to not be a lump on a log all the time and blame it on the fact that work really took it out of him and he has nothing left for his son.

        It's about the right of passage and if you didn't have a good example at home, you can still figure out how to make it right as an adult.

        For boys today - the right of passage is if they finally had sex. That's as far from the truth as it can be. They need to know it's about honor and integrity and to feel OK to be a man. This culture we live in where if it's OK for you, it's OK is silly. It's also a lie Hollywood forces down our throats that all things for kids needs to be gender neutral. That is as far from who we are as humans as can be. Men and women are so different on every level. A man needs to embrace manhood with zeal and courage. It's all about how his father respected or didn't love and respect his mother that is the issue. If the father was a model, the boy can be filled with as much testosterone as an Ox but he will cherish his girlfriend and wife as his father did.

        Too many weak or absentee fathers - that is the root cause
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          Oct 14 2011: Mark,

          I strongly recommend you do a couple of things:

          1) Research your topic a little bit.
          2) Try to find out a little bit about the person you are writing to (before you write.)

          While what you have said has some (limited) validity; that you present it as a "root cause" for something you know very little about is misleading.

          You are confused. Well-meaning but confused.

          You have made your point. I have heard your point. I accept your point as having limited validity. You have no need to attempt to convince me or others of your position.

          It is clear.
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          Oct 15 2011: Dear Mark,
          You write..."physical exercise, healthy diet, strong social network are your answers. Wrong answer. It's about love. Don't give up on it. When I suffered from depression I was popular at school, played sports, and ate pretty well. Didn't help me one bit and it won't solve depression from anyone. As you stated, there are lives at stake who may be reading this".

          Mark, physical exercise, healthy diet and strong social network are not the "wrong" answers. They are well established practices which are recommended by both spiritual teachers AND medical professionals, as ways to help decrease the symtoms of depression. Love and not giving up are also very important pieces to the puzzle. You have stated in your comments that there are many different factors which contribute to depression. It's important to be consistent with advice.
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        Oct 14 2011: @Thomas You don't agree with some of the things I write.. Well you must be a bad guy LOL
        All kidding aside. Please regard what you write as your opinion as well. No one has all the answers.
        You write:
        "Not everyone believes in a heaven or a hell and many of those who do do not see them as physical domains."
        Good, because they are not, they are within us.

        Another thing is that in todays society many, if not most kids are send to daycare. One of the things I think science will tell us is that what a child learns in the first few years of their life will form them mentally the rest of their life. This is a view that Swedenborg wrote about quite a bit 250 years ago.
        The love that kids are shown during the first years stay with them and are used (if they are there) by the Lord in many ways later in life. Please Google: Swedenborg "our remains" (with " ")

        How much love is a child given in a daycare ?? In large places they are usually ignored until they smell or are too noisy, no love.

        I am very sorry to see you are unable to think outside the box and see love or any spiritual activity only as something physical or chemical between the ears. No wonder you believe the thoughts that enter your mind are you and yours only. I'd find that very depressing.

        Thanks for you thoughts though.
    • Oct 21 2011: Dear Adriaan. I submit the follwoing case for your comment:
      A young man I knew was very active in curch, believed in God and was very spiritual. He prayed regularly. Something was very physically wrong iwth him, he was often sick, he gained and lost weight, and he had bad skin. Eventually he sank into depression, and no longer found joy in things he previously loved. Even church.
      This young man later became an atheist, but more importantly found that he ha celiac disease, and by eliminating wheat from his diet his physical symptoms went away completely and he slowly recovered from the depression as well.

      There are well documented scientific truths here, and if you are right, they are based on our God given abilities to seek the truth. Why would God create us in such a way as to have our logic and reason contradict his will? The only answer would be that logic, reason, and science are in fact works of the Devil. I for one do not believe that.
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        Oct 21 2011: Hi Pete, sorry but half what I posted disappeared. (TED took it away because it was off topic?!
        I am also very sorry the trouble and hardship your friend had to go through. Bad things (are allowed to) happen, but only if some good can come out of it. In general we are 'allowed' to experience trouble so we can recognize bad things in us so we can do something about it. We know we are not perfect and should do something about it, but we can't change what we don't see.

        You write, "Why would God create us in such a way as to have our logic and reason contradict his will?"
        That depends on what you think His will is.
        The spiritual meaning of the Bible is about one thing, it is about how someone from a natural person can, and should, become a spiritual person.
        In short, God wants us to be happy to eternity in heaven.
        In order for us to be happy we have to be free to decide what to love and so who we are. Love and freedom are inseparable so that even God will not go against His own spiritual laws to change us. Because than we would no longer be us but puppets on a string.

        So we have the freedom to love whatever we choose to love, and makes us happy. This means we have to choose between to things. Good and bad, truth and evil.
        So it is not, as you said: "The only answer would be that logic, reason, and science are in fact works of the Devil." The only answer is that during temptations in our mind as to what we want to love, there are two forces at work and WE have to decide which one we want to have win, God or the devil.
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          Oct 21 2011: Hi Adriaan,

          Personally, I do not use the links anyone puts in their replies. There are several reasons, not the least of which is, I am having a conversation with an individual, not a data base or a search engine.

          I am not surprised some of your posts have been deleted for being off topic; and I expected some of my comments to you to be deleted for the same reason.

          Let me say this, I do not share your beliefs. And I find your belief to be irrelevant to the present conversation.

          What have you said that is meaningful to a young man who is grappling with a specific issue? (I will offer an answer to that presently.)

          If your advice to him requires him to adopt a worldview that is purely a fanciful fabrication of an overactive imagination (as I assert yours is) then you are adding an unnecessary obstacle to resolving what is already a challenging situation. For example, he may have a religious worldview of his own. He may be an atheist. He may "not care."

          If you believe he must believe what you believe to overcome depression, then, fine, say that. Say, "Chris, if you want to overcome your depression you must believe in a revisioned spirituality as fashioned by an eccentric Swedish scientist who talked to people living on other planets."

          And, if you do say that, you can expect me, and I am sure others, to refute your comments.

          If, on the other hand, you are suggesting - and this is the only meaningful thing you have said in regards to the topic - that what Chris thinks might have an impact on his condition, then, tell me*, how has any of this extraneous spiritual mumbo jumbo added anything to the sentiments stated simply and more clearly by Marcus Aurelius when he said:

          "The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature."

          -------
          * It's a rhetorical device. Please do not tell me; your answer is easily anticipated.
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        Oct 22 2011: Thomas, wishing you all the happiness
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    Oct 30 2011: I know how you feel there.Personally i think the rise of depression and suicide is due to the 'perfect' image that is created by the society we live in and is advertised in many forms like adverts,magazines,music ,movies etc.. In the end an individual feels like they too need to fit into that catagory,so they try to become that 'perfect' image. Being one myself , i know that among teenagers this gets much worse because if you dont blend in with the rest, youre alienated and even bullied for it.And eventually this pressure can drive one into depression.So i think before anything else this image should be eliminated .
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      Oct 30 2011: Agreed, Beste. I don't think this gets enough of the blame these days :) There was a time I denied this, and quick to point the finger at other reasons, but the older I get, the more I believe it to be true. Particularly with women and teenagers, including women from motherhood through menopause. Isolation becomes a habit, leading to depression as they feel they don't measure up when their bodies are changing.
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    Oct 29 2011: Thank you Chris for initiating this.
    Today I learned that those experiencing sea sickness often feel slightly depressed before becoming actually sick and might even feel suicidal. (I heard it on a Danish science program on Norvegian television.) Sea sickness is the result of conflicting sensory information (from balance organs opposed to eyes) that creates a chaos. This internal chaos is speculated to be interpreted by our bodies as having been poisoned and results in vomiting.
    I immediately thought of land based depressive and suicidal states. I think that the internal conflict due to unusual awareness of the discrepancies between our heart and our world results in a similar chaos. Our bodies rightfully think that secluded rest is needed for the brain to resolve matters. Often this works sufficiently to go on living, but sometimes the ability to understand extreme contradictions of viewpoints leaves no point of reference.
    The sea sick feels better when steering the ship. How do we accomplish the feeling of steering our own ships in sometimes dangerous waters? I believe our heart is our compass.
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        Oct 30 2011: Well said Mark,
        I agree that our interpretations, expectations, reaching for a fixed point of reference, and investment in a certain outcome often color our experiences. Observing the thoughts come and go, and experiencing the "flow" of thoughts, rather than focusing on a certain thought, can sometimes allow us to move through thoughts and feelings that we prefer not to have. This practice works well for many people to interupt the depression "spiral".

        With that said, we also need to be aware of clinical depression, which may be more difficult to deal with, and may need professional intervention.
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        Oct 30 2011: To search for a point of reference might be the only way for people with unusually developed sense of balance. They are exceptionally well equipped to sense the imbalances in life and therefore prone to develop depressions as a means to help resolve the contradictory feelings of for example a family divorce or other devastating human discrepancies.
        Depressions are like fever is to an infection and should be left to take its course in rest and solitude with help and support from persons close. If the depression has not diminished after some weeks some expert guidance is probably needed. Guided by someone who does not see the depression itself as the original sickness but as part of the cure.
        A feeling of relative balance can be found when we calibrate our major thoughts and feelings to our heart. The heart has been shown to posess neurons like in our brain and there are two-way communications between heart and brain.
        I believe in watching out for thoughts and feelings that are extrapolations from the compass of our heart. They are our points of reference, forever changing as we go.
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        Oct 31 2011: Thank you Mark Meijer for taking notice that I was very unclear about what I meant by heart and brain interactions. Here is the research I am leaning heavily on scientifically in that aspect: http://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/head-heart-interactions.html.
        I am at a loss to where I found the interesting information with speculations as to why humans through evolution have been equipped with the ability for being depressed. I believe it to be very probable that depression has benign functions.
        Such as helping humans in dire emotional circumstances by inducing them to rest in solitude and for example either emptying their minds of thought and feeling or rethinking difficulties again and again. These states of mind maybe makes it easier for the unconscious to regroup and find a way to positively consolidate these new learnings into the system. If the depression can take its course you ultimately might emerge stronger.
        I agree that we need the ups and downs to evolve beautifully. Each personal setback is a sign for us to try to overcome it in a way as to learn and grow. We can beautifully never predict what comes to us. And we can never know how we will evolve. We are all children of sorts. Learning gets easier when we acknowledge that comforting fact.
        The ability to acknowledge our heart as our compass gives a point of direction that can be trusted whatever strange turns of directions life takes you in order to grow. Small obstacles might be overcome by ignoring them but some have to be mastered in order to be able to move forward.
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        Oct 31 2011: I wonder if there exists any gathered data about what formerly suicidals consider to be the most important factors that made them want to live. I have only heard one clear account. It was from a boy who unsuccessfully went through several therapies. What made the last theraphy work was that the therapist showed him genuine interest.
        Do you need to feel that at least some person genuinly cares about who you are? To feel that you are neither completely alone nor forced to comply wholly to others in order to find company. Maybe you can then find the courage to travel some distances alone. And feel confident that you will find others to accompany you on part of your ways, even if seemingly unchartered.
        We suffer when alone and we suffer when in too restraining company.
        How to navigate your own personal route while keeping in contact with those you love is often tricky.
        You can believe that storms and narrow gaps are given as opportunities to become a better navigator. Nobody knows where they are going and that is beautiful. Take the time to read the compass when you suspect that you are lost. Find your bearing. Chris, it is there to find.
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      . . 100+

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      Oct 31 2011: The heart is our compass, and the only.
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    Oct 20 2011: Maybe practicing imagining* a happy future would help. (It might "rewire" our brains.)

    I am reading the "The Optimism Bias - A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain" by Tali Sharot. She says:

    "Rollo May, the American existential psychologist, said that depression is the inability to construct a future. As a matter of fact, clinically depressed individuals find it difficult to create detailed images of future events, and when they do, they tend to be pessimistic about them. Two brain regions have been identified as being particularly malfunctional in cases of depression, and the way these two regions communicate with each other is specifically abnormal. These structures are the amygdala and the rACC [rostral anterior cingulate cortex.]"

    And:

    "[An optimistic outlook results in enhanced activity] in two critical regions of [the] brain: the amygdala – that small structure deep in the brain that is central to the processing of emotion; and the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) – an area in the frontal cortex that modulates activity in regions that are important for emotion and motivation. The rACC [assumes] the role of traffic conductor, enhancing the flow of activity in subcortical regions when those [convey] emotions and associations." – Tali Sharot

    Perhaps actively visualizing a detailed, and happy, future (even if we do not believe one is imminent) would help strengthen the connection between the amygdala and the rACC.

    ---------
    Even though it's a bit awkward, I wrote "practicing imagining" because I know when one is experiencing depression, actually imagining a positive future is not at all easy. It would take "practice."
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      Oct 30 2011: "Rollo May, the American existential psychologist, said that depression is the inability to construct a future. As a matter of fact, clinically depressed individuals find it difficult to create detailed images of future events, and when they do, they tend to be pessimistic about them.

      Thomas, I believe Rollo May has hit the nail on the head. Depression is about not seeing a future that is worth living. That is the main theme of modern society, and the discussion of 'no future' now can be found in all segments of society, not just the marginalized or fringe. It's pervasive through-out society.

      If we want to effective deal with depression in teenagers, we must give them hope about their future. And that directly conflicts with society's view of success 'those who got the gold, make the rules'. There is little commitment to sharing with other members of society who live today, forget those who come later. The greed of the present generations is off the charts, and thus depression of the young follows suit. It's a cycle only deep sharing will solve, in my humble opinion.
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    Oct 20 2011: Depression is all to often hidden with a smile. It is a lot more prevalent than we think, mainly because most of the time depressed teens have no one to talk to. Whenever I talk to my dad about such issues, he tells me something to the effect of "suck it up and be a man". I don't talk to people my age about it because they are more concerned about what they will be doing that night. We live in a culture that teaches us to bottle up our emotions and ignore them.

    As far as a solution to such a problem, become a listener. Most of the time I just someone to talk to in order to help me through my episodes. We need to let young people know that this hell they ar going through is only temporary and that most importantly that they are not alone
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    Oct 14 2011: I think schools should teach two things:

    1. Up-to-date information on the science of happiness.
    2. "Mental health first aid"

    The first point is important because in the last 10 years or so, science has learned a lot about what makes humans happy -- and it's not what humans _think_ makes them happy. Kids should be taught this stuff in school. Right now, we tend to grow up with mistaken ideas of what will make us happy and fulfilled in life. No wonder we get disappointed! This TED talk is my favourite description of how our minds _really_ work, with regard to happiness: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html . Every young adult should be taught the material it contains. (See also Sonja Lyubomirsky's "How of Happiness")

    The second point is obvious when you think about it. We teach kids first aid for physical health. Why not for mental health too. Things like "how to recognise danger signs in yourself and others", "how to find professional psychological help" (i.e. ask for a referral from your family Dr / GP).
  • Oct 14 2011: Hi Chris,

    Okay... When I was about 13 I first developed depression. At the age of 15, I came home from school to an empty house, went to my room and put a knife to my wrist. I had every intention of killing myself and probably would have, except for some small part of me that was left to resist.

    This is the first time I have ever admitted this.

    The problem with depression is that the source of it is different for every person. I was never 'bullied'. I've seen people get bullied before; I had things pretty good in high school. I wasn't snapping under pressure; I graduated in the top 10% of my class. For me it was simply my outlook on life. I used to look at the state of the world and think "There's no hope here. There's nothing I can do to make things better. What's the point?" Based on everyone else's comments on their own experiences, I may simply be a minority, but I don't know if there is any one definitive cause for teen depression. If you want to help prevent suicide though, the simplest way that you can is to stay aware of the people around you. You know the signs, you have been there yourself. Not only that, but let the world know that you have been there. JD Schramm talks about breaking the silence for suicide survivors here: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng
    /jd_schramm.html

    Maybe if we give the youth a source who has dealt with what they are going through, some of them will come and ask for help.
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      Oct 14 2011: Hi John, You say "You know the signs, you have been there yourself." For those of us that have not been there, what are the signs?? What I see in your story is that in your case there were no signs, and later you said it was you outlook on life.
      I don't know if you read my other posts here but I firmly believe we are our mind, NOT our brain. Our brain is no more a tool than our heart is, it is a receiver. The danger in believing that the thoughts that pop into our mind are ours and is us, is that we identify ourselves with negative thoughts built on them, embrace them and all that can easily lead to suicide.
      When someone around us gives us his/her opinion about us we regard that opinion as valuable or trash depending how we see that person.
      We can go into a shop and get the food we know is good for us and leave the stuff that is not.
      We should recognize we have that same freedom with thoughts that come into us and brush them off or embrace them.
      If we can grow up with that tool or attitude, I think we'd be much better prepared for life. And this is only the tip of the mountain of life :)
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    Oct 14 2011: I too was bullied as a child. I have suffered from depression for years. It is as they say "in remission". Over the years I have learned many tools which work for me personally. The two most important for me are being aware of my thoughts and meditation. The meditation helps to change my thoughts when I find myself dwelling on the negative.

    When I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder, the advice from all sides was "Change your mind. Change your thoughts." What no one could tell me, was how to do that. I did medications which in my case were unfortunately not effective. I did therapy, group therapy, guided visualization, meditation workshops etc. Taking a bit from here and there, I was able to build up a toolbox. I still add to it when I find something new.

    Having read through all the responses below, I would like to address a couple of points. Spirituality is it's own reward, but not everyone sees it as a life defining purpose. A part of my personal recovery has involved understanding that for me, life is it's own purpose. The purpose of my life is to be lived. Part of that is taking and accepting responsibility for it. I cannot control what life brings to me, only how I choose to respond to it.

    The other quick note relates to those who questioned the prevalence of violence in TV, movies and video games. The simple fact is, when I was a youth, there were no video games, and violence on TV was decidedly more tame than it it is now. I was bullied. Not because society was more violent, but because I was different. People don't bully because of TV or games. They bully because they choose to.

    The key to my ongoing recovery is internalizing the knowledge that what happened to me as a child wasn't my fault. I didn't "deserve" what happened to me, but for years, my sense of self-worth was based on the idea that it was my fault for being different. Realizing it was their choice not mine is what saved me.

    Just my take on it.
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    Oct 10 2011: Sorry Chris , ran out of characters. Hey !! What are you going to study at Uni. I can feel a Psychology degree coming on? Listen mate the importance of checking in with someone who looks a little down is Important. That question of "are you OK?"cannot be underestimated. Talking over a problem or the old saying "A problem shared is a problem halved"shouldnt be underestimated. I dont recommend self medication as a lot of teenagers seem to adopt but if you can get someone who is depressed to a G.P. then thats a great outcome. There are plenty of websites for further info though websites dont notice that you are depressed and tap you on the shoulder. Hmmm. I think people in this developed world has become so individualistic and so competitive we lose sight of the things that are important, like your question. Be a friend that cares and have friends that care. seek them out. they are not always the popular ones that make the best friends. Hmmmm. I hope you are well now and active and interested in learning. People who are like this often cultivate healthy minds. Keep learning as I'm sure you are. Hmmm. I know i've missed a lot vout here. but you will find the answers. Catch ya later Mate!
    • Oct 10 2011: Haha, yes, I plan to get a Ph.D (or Masters at the very least) in Psychology. And I am SO glad you said "That question of 'are you OK?' cannot be underestimated.'" I completely agree. Strangely, it is such a good tool (and obvious one at that) to use! And what is a G.P.? (Haha, sorry for all the questions)
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        Oct 10 2011: Hi Chris,
        I'm sorry you have had such an experience. I totally agree with Phillip, in that people who have challengng life experiences often cultivate healthy minds. Since you have moved through depression, you are well equipped to help others move through it as well. Those who have faced life challenges make GREAT supporters for those who are facing life challenges.

        "Are you ok" is a great question to ask, and when we ask the question, it is important to be ready to listen to, and hear the response, because when we are genuinely interested, people will share their life experiences with us, and those experiences may be beyond anything we may expect. Kudos to you my friend:>)
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    Oct 10 2011: Great question Chris! Its a biggy. . I work with teenagers - have done for 20 years. From memory observation and experience the teens are an incredibly intense period. Man those neurons and chemicals can be all over the place. Pruning back and adding and look out here comes the testosterone! Geeze mate you have done so well to get to where you are.
    There are a lot of factors that can contribute to depression i would suggest. Trauma, obsessive thinking, chemical imbalances, self image concerns, identity issues, neglectful and abusive parents dont help things, rejection from the one you love, ouch!!!!! I know that one. etc.

    Some people are simply resilient and they get over things: They have the ability to move on. They are the lucky ones. For others including myself, procrastination, getting stuck and having spiralling deprerssive thoughts can be a hard cycle to break through. Distraction is good- forcing yourself to break free from the thinking by DOING!!!!!!!! something. Exercise and diet are good. Run!!!!! Friends - who talk to you and listen and are concerned - not always easy to find at that age. Great if family can listen and you feel like you can talk to them.

    Back to the teens. With all the wiring and rewiring going on during this time it may appear that empatheitic friends could go missing during this time. I see many teenagers simply struggling to assert themself in the group. Just to find some sense of place and position and often this involves putting others down Yuck!!! I hate it but its a reality - bit cruel !!!!. And then there is straight out bullying. Poor bullies really I wonder how they are feeling- cant be too good themselves.. But being bullied is the pits too!. Geeeze mate it is a jungle out there and a jungle that adults often have trouble accessing. Peer influence is important at this time. It doesnt matter how many times your mum tells you "You're not fat, that comment from Johnny calling you "Fatso" simply hurt!!!!!!!!!!
    • Oct 10 2011: Haha, I was glad to see someone put a great amount of effort into responding to my question. But yeah, I feel that if the boundaries of being in a clique and having a community come together to address the similarities that they have that bullying and not feeling that state of "being alone" will be significantly less common.

      One issue that I have experienced a few times in person is instances where a child will have a neglectful family, and they are left to deal with abusive parents on a daily basis. (On a personal note, this happened many times with my ex-girlfriend whose mother suffers from serious manic-depressive bipolar disorder). And the day that they go to take action upon being abused, they will call Child Services or 911 and they don't really recognize or take into consideration that the child is actually being abused. A common (and in many cases I completely understand) problem I find is that these calls aren't taken seriously, and are taken as a child getting angry at their parents and lashing out by calling the police because "they're crazy hormonal teenagers". Now, I know what I'm saying sounds very biased and it seems like I'm saying "Oh no! Them crazy adults just don't understand us!" but within reason, I have personally seen parental abuse towards children and things that should truly have parents thrown in jail.

      I've seemed to get way off-topic here, but this all goes back to the issue with teens not feeling or knowing that they have someone to talk to about these emotional problems or family problems. (whatever the situation may be). I'd like to know what you think about the issue I brought up. Thanks for posting! It was very insightful. :)
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        Oct 10 2011: Chris,
        Some of what you say may be true...
        Authorities and social services agencies sometimes do not take complaints seriously. If there is a genuine complaint, it's important to have a recorded history with law enforcement and social services.

        I have seen abuse toward children, abuse toward parents, and various scenarios in between. There needs to be a clear, substanciated record for action to take place by authorities. That's how the system works, and we need to work within the system to stop abuse to anyone.

        Just to let you know where I am coming from:
        I lived with violence and abuse as a child.
        As an adult, I have worked with victims of violence and abuse, offenders, and served as an advocate and case reviewer for children in state custody because of violence and abuse,
        I've had many years of "training" and life experience on this topic, and guest lectured at the Univ. of Vt for years, on the topic of violence and abuse in relationships
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        Oct 11 2011: Yep , there are crazy parents out there. No doubt and yes they stuff it up for the children. No doubt.
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    Oct 31 2011: Around a week ago I was depressed for a day after weeks of hypomania.(My longest depression lasted about four months.) I found these three takes on a depressive outlook, poignant in their symbolism of loss, cruelty and loneliness.

    "The Calculus of Friendship - Steven Strogatz http://youtu.be/9piYoYqIf3I I loved watching this again today.
    The Last Picture Show: Sweeping http://youtu.be/GgZx_vQcgHo And this brings out tears as always.
    First Orbit - the movie http://youtu.be/RKs6ikmrLgg And this long breathtaking movie also. The incomprehensibility and beauty tearing apart something."
    Quoting myself at the time.

    My youngest brother, Daniel, committed suicide a few years ago. He was 35 years old and had probably been depressed for a long time. He made his first suicide attempt as a teenager.
    After the incomprehensible extremeness of his action I did my best to ignore it. I hoped that he thought of it as a mistake and that it would never happen again. He seemed to be feeling better.
    I could not help him.
    Daniel was unusually kind and helpful.
    I saw interviews with families and friends of persons who had committed suicide. They all characterised their lost ones as unusually kind and helpful.
  • Oct 23 2011: Disclaimer:
    Since you are of very young age, i suggest that you dont take any replies as the perfect answer. Instead discuss with your parents or guardians before taking a decision.
    ==========

    My personal Opinion (Just an opinion, and i am not an expert or doctor in this field)
    --------------
    Suicidal thoughts arise because
    "people think that they are unique and hence cant bear the pain of losing something that they desired. First they should understand that the world in which they are born is not theirs and has to be shared with others. "

    Depression arises because of losing something that a person loved very much, or due to hate speaches against them by others, and various other reasons.

    My simple suggestion would be,
    "Whenever you are stuck with depression, immediately run to any local volunteering center , Like oldage homes, or handicapped homes or any animal service centers and start helping. See, how these people/animals face the world with all the challenges around them.

    Get a firm opinion that
    "I am not unique, What i do makes me Unique" and start servicing.

    During these times of depression, i personall think that "vegetarian foods will give some peace of mind"


    The body is designed in such a way that, there is no "kill me" or "delete me" button. Which means, nature does not want us to commit sucide.

    We are created for some purpose. Though we cant find that purpose, we can surely service other living beings. When ever you get depression, first think

    " I am not unique. There are millions of others, even babies suffering more than me. I am born to service and start doing service"
  • Oct 21 2011: Chris, I believe that as the world evolves the mental problems rise. There is so much pressure in this world on people, on children, on teens, on parents, from society, from all around us. I don't want to attempt a medical or philosophical write here, I will leave that for another conversation, but I can tell you that I've been there and now I hear about these problems from my friends and from my children, their friends, their class mates, it is a big problem and a huge challenge for parents to help teens. No matter what, please believe this: IT WILL PASS. I know that when that indescribable feeling comes and overwhelms you, you just want to leave.. be gone, it is simply horrible and you want it to end. It is not easy to be strong at times like this, it is worse when you are a teen, I tell people that come to me with these feelings to remember themselves every day, constantly, and repeat to themselves: "IT WILL PASS, I am strong.. this will not last forever", and if you have any religious faith, Pray, do it constantly too. If you have a safe friend that you trust, talk to them, but remember that they are also teens and they also feel that "weight of the world" that we all feel when we are teens.. I highly recommend finding an adult to talk to, it can be your friends' mom or dad, or a teacher or counselor, or even someone that you feel comfortable online --just be very careful pls- feel no shame, we all have our difficult times even if they were not visible to others.
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      Oct 21 2011: Very good advice.

      And if I might add: Not only will "it pass" but what awaits on the "other side" (of Depression) is wonderful. If someone were to ask me if I had to pay with Depression (which I have experienced!) for what I experience today, would I do it, the answer would be a resounding, "Yes!"
  • Oct 20 2011: Hi,
    In this video, the author can explain "How" depression gets worse. http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html

    But It doesn't tell us "Why". I believe this "why" lies upon something else. The mind is a remarkable tool. it learns to act in response to a situation, so if we can recognize that something is "bad" or "wrong" the mind also understands, that "good" and "right" exist.

    Now, We are looking for the best education, job, house, relationship. it seems that we always are looking for something. If We ask "Why" and the answer is, because is the "right" thing to live a "better life". We are in a paradox, it means that in the present, we are killing us("living bad") in order to get a "better living" in the future. We'll never get that future because "that thought" is a pattern in the mind. we could keep looking forever.

    once we realize that thinking is a paradox. We can start looking somewhere else..
  • M ER

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    Oct 19 2011: On the subject of suicide. I have read that suicide is very much a cultural thing and can be spurred on by the culture around us. Suicides can come in waves. It does not appear to be a natural thing to do, since the idea must be brought in from elsewhere before suicides take place. A song can inspire suicide, a book, or the suicide of a famous person (these copycat suicides have been prevented by an immediate negative message from a person close to the victim).
    Suicide is more prevalent in cultures where it is considered brave and honorable and where it is considered "an escape" from the harshness of your reality. Suicide can be spurred on by the medias positive portrayal of a suicide story and dampened by a negative one. Suicide, therefore, is caused in part by our discussion of it. There is also something called "the suicide impulse" where a person can suddenly decide that he/she wants to commit suicide and within seconds attempts to, without necessarily being depressed or ever have given it much thought.
    There are also many people that are not serious about their suicide attempt, but are hoping to be found and saved before they die. This is a dangerous game and I believe feeds on our idea that suicide is the ultimate "cry for help" and expresses better than anything the anguish we are going through. I think there should not be a discussion of suicide in our society and if there is then a negative one, for this is one problem in which the solution does not lie in understanding it. This however is difficult and dangerous to do, for we cannot ignore the people that are in danger of committing suicide and we should do everything in our power to help them overcome the problems that are the real cause behind their drastic measures.
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      • M ER

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        Oct 19 2011: I realize that, and I hoped that I made that clear in the end of my comment:
        "we cannot ignore the people that are in danger of committing suicide and we should do everything in our power to help them overcome the problems that are the real cause behind their drastic measures."
        I only wanted to point out the effect discussions about suicide can have on actual suicide rates.
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    ju mao

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    Oct 15 2011: please ask for help. I think there are people in this world care about you.
    you can also help other people who might worse than you, but you didn't realized, do some work as a volunteer.
  • Oct 15 2011: ChrisI had severe depression in High School and constant thoughts of suicide and that's not the answer. It's a permanent end to a temporary problem. I didn,t seek treatment until I was 25 and suffered needlessly. So what I'm saying is get into treatment early, stay active, eat well and don't let anyone put you down. There are medications and therapy that can help make those thoughts and feelings go away. I am 50 now and as it turned out I had schizophrenia and that's where my depression was coming from, you most likely just have depression and can be easiy treated. Talk about it with someone else who has it and they will understand, this helps. I am a recovery coordinator for people with all sorts of problems and you can feel free to write me anytime I specialize in mental health and my e-mail is jkindler@ahci.org feel free to write anytime you need someone to talk with, I can help you with just about anything. And Chris, please don't harm yourself because there is a lot of help out there, you just need to find it. Also, if you want to call me write back on my e-mail and I will give you my number. Please take care.
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    Oct 14 2011: I realize that I only spoke to my experience, and didn't address the larger question of reversing the upward trend in teen suicides. Here are some of my suggestions in that direction.

    Remove the overwhelming emphasis on competition. Our society is obsessed with the idea of being "Number One". Sports, academics, socially, sexually, the pressure to compete is enormous. Unfortunately, not everyone can be "the best", "the most popular", or whatever. Those who can't or won't compete, are told by society that they have no value. The message is everywhere, and our youth who have not yet found worth withing themselves too often take the message at face value.

    I don't say that no one should compete, only that it needs to be but one facet of a balanced life. We need to start at an earlier age teaching innate worth to our children. We need to teach them to see media and social programming as external and separate from their own inner worth. Having that inner health is the best antidote to the toxins they will be exposed to externally.

    Culturally, we need to redefine "success". It needs to be more be more inclusive. Rather than external, we must strive to create and internal success. Instead of teaching that the football captain must automatically become the alpha, deliver the same message about the drama major, or the kid who really enjoys math, or reading, or whatever.

    These are just a couple of ideas for combating bullying, depression, and suicide among teens.
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    Oct 14 2011: Involve them in community service to the elderly in nursing homes, vets in veterans' hospitals, children fighting disease, and let them see what others are experiencing and that life is PRECIOUS.
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    Oct 14 2011: George Santayana said that depression is rage spread thin.

    Damon Albarn (Blur) said that modern life is rubbish.

    It's a combination of these two things. Cutting loose every now and then is helpful. Humans were not meant to be dutiful all of the time (all work and no play..) so get together with friends and have a party - not a "let's play charades" type party, but a dance-your-ass-off party with loud music and a bit of madness.

    Physical activity helps a lot. Exhaust yourself.

    Also, keeping life in perspective. There's a lot of "save the world" discussions on TED and you certainly can't save the world, so don't carry that around on your shoulders. Know thyself and don't try to live up to anyone (or your own misguided) expectations.

    A lot of people say it's brain chemistry and they probably know more about man-as-machine than I do, but in my experience, pills only make things worse. Best thing to do is change your situation.
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      Oct 14 2011: Hi Scott,

      I agree with most of what you said ... even the part about pills making things worse ... but based on my own personal experience, sometimes pills make things better.

      My first experience of depression was quite dramatic - I was walking home, and in the time it took me to lift my left foot up and before it touched the ground, my whole "reality" changed. It was as if someone had literally turned a switch off and my brain stopped working the way it normally does.

      Somehow, I walked the block or so to my home and opened the door. I tried to take a bath but could not figure out how to turn the taps on (I "knew how" but getting the water to the right temperature was way too complicated for me.) I sat in a chair. It took me an hour and a half to figure out how to phone my sister. She came and took me to my doctor's office. It took two years to recover.

      This was a long time ago (30 years or so) and treatment was somewhat crude and it involved "pills."

      I was and am a staunch supporter of "a chemical free life" but if my doctor had told me eating a volkswagen would have helped, I would have given it a shot.

      In retrospect, I don't think the pills actually helped. In fact, I do think they did "make things worse" - the side effects were quite pronounced. BUT the fact that I was doing something gave me a sense of agency and that did help while time worked its magic.

      About 18 years later, I had another episode, and again was prescribed pills. That time, the pills worked quite well and there were virtually no side effects (I guess there had been a lot of R&D done in the interim.) Again, I think it was time that resolved the issue but the pills made the time much more bearable.

      Oh, and the fact that the word "depression" is used to describe an emotional state and a physical condition, I think, makes for some confusion. For example, George Santayana may have been talking about the emotion (I don't know for sure.)
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        Oct 14 2011: Hi Thomas,

        clear and concise as usual.

        I think there are as many forms of depression as there are people who experience it. I recognise the onset of the depressive mindset (for me) when I notice my ability to make decisions becomes noticeably impaired. What should be straight-forward becomes almost impossible.

        For me, chemicals never helped, only added side-effects to the problem.

        In the end, for me, it was a context thing and the minute I changed my situation, I started feeling better.

        As far as the George Santayana quote goes, you could be right. I just think that guy hits many nails on the head with his well known quotes and turns of phrase.
    • Oct 21 2011: Hi Scott
      I think your point about the pills is a good one, however when you say "A lot of people say it's brain chemistry and they probably know more about man-as-machine than I do, but in my experience, pills only make things worse. Best thing to do is change your situation."

      The pharm companies have done quite a good job convincing us that every problem has a pill solution. But everything we put into our bodies and everything we think and do has a chemical effect. Yes, it is a chemical problem, but that does not mean pills are the answer (though they can help some I'm sure). Watching TV, working out, and eating a piece of meat all have effects on our brain chemistry. The trick is finding the right combination. There may be external causes for our physcial response such as unhappiness, mental trauma, etc, but the depression occurs as a result of the chemical imbalance.

      While you seem to have sucess treating depression with a change in mental outlook (which changes your brain chemistry alone), you may have even more sucess if you try some dietary and other physcial changes. In other words, it doesn't change the external causes but it improves your body's ability to deal with the,.
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      Oct 31 2011: "The trick is finding the right combination". I agree Scott.
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    Oct 14 2011: I think that it is great to explore this topic.

    I feel emphathetic about how difficult young adults might feel to wisely go through a life stage as our society is becoming more confusing with many principles, moral codes, religions, physical interactions, etc. It seems that there are too many choices with too little guidance for the youth to take in every direction.

    I hope that my two cents with a personal experience will stop someone to rethink about the concept of depression and suicide. I had depression starting when I was eight years old and all the way upto my adult age due to significantly negative events in my early life. I didn't know it was depression because the environment I had was not designed for me to realize it was. Yet, to suicide was always in my mind.

    It was a long journey to go through that tunnel. I held on to my life betting myself that to sustain my life until I heal myself. After that, "if the suicide is the same decision I want to make, it would not be late to do so." On the way, I saw many many people who had much tougher events happened in their lives yet harvesting meaningful lives nonetheless. What I learend was that the causes of my suffering and depression were almost trivial when I let go of my "self" a bit to look at the bigger world. I also learned that even if there is no purpose in my life, if I can win against my own will, I am strong enough tackle the world. I learned how to respect "life" with dignity. After that, I felt as if each day of my lilfe was "gift" had my life not been on this earth.

    Of course depression doesn't necessarily come from hard events and times, but I believe that people who have depression can benefit from examining one's perception to check whether that is healthy. If one defeats the suicidal thought, that is a beginning of life. There are so many things one can be grateful just by being alive. Keep that opportunity to feel, know, and appreciate that experience itself for you. You are precious.
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    Oct 11 2011: Chris, This is an important time when ACT-in-friendship is called for. Be there for your friend. Show up. This is biggest. Tell them, first of all ; delete " checking out" from your operating system, it is not an option. The sun will ALWAYS return to you. Put your energy into your constructive projects. Spend exactly zero time watching TV, reading junk mail, tabloids, fashion magazines, listening to gossip, drugs, and the like. Instead play out doors. Remember you are precious.
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        Oct 20 2011: How does one bump a post to the top without responding to it?
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        Oct 20 2011: Thank you dear MarK:-)