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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 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? 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:>)
        • M ER

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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.

    Read the short story by Leo Tolstoy, What Men Live By (1885)
    He was to learn three things.

    Read the fable, The Touchstone, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • Oct 10 2011: Oh wait, I found the cure for it....
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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 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: 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 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.
    • 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 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: Hi Adriaan,

          As I do you too.

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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:
        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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      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.]"


    "[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: . 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:

    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: 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 I loved watching this again today.
    The Last Picture Show: Sweeping And this brings out tears as always.
    First Orbit - the movie 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.

    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 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:-)
  • Oct 11 2011: Chris,
    throughout my life I have found that the best way to help yourself is helping others to get through their problems.
    Sounds like romantic, idealistic nonsense, but believe me, the effect is every bit as real as the chair you are sitting on!
    And speaking about depression in general, Carl Jung was one of the first to understand that a person presenting for therapy is, at the root level, often engaged in an existentialist crisis -a crisis of meaning. While young people see life as pointless, while they feel helpless victims of circumstances they cannot control, then we will see around us exactly what we see today.
    I wish I knew how to heal the society,which, I believe is sick, but I don't. But it's always a right thing to start with yourself and right now.
    Try to find out what you are good at, what is your way to help your friends in depression, try to bring joy into your family,share other person burden, as if you don't have your own,... you'll see what happens.
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    Oct 11 2011: I stared playing games, It's a good way to express anger
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    Oct 11 2011: Chris, it’s an important question you raise and one that should be brought in the light more.

    I've read all reactions so far and they are all to be taken seriously.
    Yet the problem isn't a simple one and complicated by all kinds of causes that can be at the root of it.
    I've seen a lot of them in my life and too many with a fatal end but every story I know of was a different story.
    Factors could be one or a combination of the following: genetics, parenting, environmental stress, outside influences (drugs, bad friends) and insufficient development through childhood.
    In some cases the only solution is medication, in other cases reprogramming of the mindset, sometimes it's change of environment and in addition many things can benefit. For every individual case something can benefit like what is already mentioned, meditating, jogging but also acting. By acting you can take a distant from your daily personality to get new perspectives and also you discover possibilities from different behavior.

    A difficult part of depression is the tendency to isolate from life, the lack of energy and the seductive option to flee into distraction to lose oneself. Television, computer games, drugs/alcohol, those things are often named and discussed but really they are the trap most depressive people will fall into.
    It is clear though that all well meaning suggestions that would be beneficial aren't met by someone that's closing off of society. And in that it is where help is most needed.
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    Oct 10 2011: Chris, its an important question that you have asked !
    " 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."

    1 you have already mentioned talking to someone about problems is helpful.
    2 I think public mental health education is necessary. You can simply go to a quite informative website.
    3 seek for professional help when neededone thing with depression and suicide is that a percentage(forget the number) of people would not tell others about their suicidal thoughts .They would have been" reached" but refuse to be helped due to depressions which is sad.

    last but not least, you can be an encouragement youself ! You know,it takes courage face and deal with depression and you are now even going further -trying to think of ways to help others who have depression. It could be very inspiring ;D

    with respect
    • Oct 10 2011: The most common problem I see with teens and depression is that they aren't aware of the help available to them, or are too afraid or embarrassed to go out and seek help for themselves. As I said before, I have dealt with people who are depressed, or even suicidal many times and a lot of the time. I agree when you say that "They would have been 'reached' but refuse to be helped due to depressions which is sad." That's why I hope that somehow there's a way we could come together to comfort teens to the idea of help with those issues. Thanks for the comment and thanks for listening! :)
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    Oct 10 2011: Though I don't have the data about increase or decrease of suicide or depression (or increase in the number of diagnoses &c), there are some things that can decrease the incidence...

    I am convinced that having a firm social network (community) of mutually supportive people can help a lot!.
    Other than that, dropping your ideals to a realistic level is a nice start (you don't need to enter the rat race, or be as successful as the people who are in the media, or look as good as the photo-shopped pictures in magazines, as smart as Einstein or athletic as an Olympic hero...).

    Treatment of depression: medication, meditation and therapy work.

    We are humans, not evolved to be happy. Compare yourself within your community, your tribe. Eat together, share your stories, be there for each other.
    Thinking you all have to do it all yourself and you are alone is a lie. You are not an isolated individual!
    • Oct 10 2011: I really agree with and like when you said "I am convinced that having a firm social network (community) of mutually supportive people can help a lot!" Of course, I'm not interested in starting this huge organization or anything within the next year or two or something like that, so my ideals are on an realistic level. I don't really have any intentions personally of being some successful guy who cured cancer or something along those lines. I just really want to know everyone's opinions here to see what they think could help and give me some things to think about from now on. Thanks for your comment!
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    Oct 30 2011: I made this video on bipolarity where I give my view both on depression and mania, which by some, including me, is considered to be just another take on depression – both ways being a search for some better point of reference.
What if when even a mania or psychosis doesn't seem to take you forward, maybe even makes you more confused, shifts into depression and total sense of meaninglessness, only in order for you to be able to start anew.
Maybe your next manic effort will take you a bit further than the last. Like trying to continue laying a very difficult puzzle (the foundation for your sense of judgment(?)) that needs all your skills in order to get clearer.
If even your psychotic abilities cannot help you grasp how to proceed - every new far-out way of looking at this puzzle fails - maybe the best way to continue is to leave it, get a rest, empty yourself of all granted, preconceived sense of outlook. Like in a depression.
Then try again, starting with the very simplest pieces of the puzzle, like food and sleep. Even having the feeling that this is enough and forget about the other pieces.Is this maybe the best ground for trying again? Nothing to lose and slowly regaining your interest. Working the puzzle from other angles, maybe remembering some of the things that felt right and important the last time, trying to fit them in but maybe in a new way, in a new place. Getting excited, overexcited, manic, psychotic. Not wanting to give up the most interesting and important task you have ever had. Until you're too exhausted and have to leave it again. Hopefully not giving it all up forever, but to regain the strength to try again.
    With the knowledge that you can go back to the basic comforts whenever you fail.
The awesome happiness of finding an important piece and a foolproof place for it - knowing that this will almost automatically lead to many other minor revelations.
The awesome happiness.
  • Oct 21 2011: Yes! I'm sorry Dan I misunderstood, I thought you were suggesting education as a cure for depression, as in, if you are depressed you should go back to school.

    I don't know if there was more depression before the internet, I personally think the change of the standard american diet is the main cause of depression, but I agree that the internet can be very useful to help socialize. Here we are!

    My fault for not reading thoroughly, yes I agree that educating people on the causes and possible treatments for depression would be a great step. Just from the comments on here we can see that people have many definitions for depression and some are confusing it with sadness or emotional pain.

    Again I'm sorry I misunderstood,
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    Oct 19 2011: Me and my friends that are battling with this also feel that the depression can stem from what we describe as "disconnection from reality". Young people today are simply pushed too hard from all directions. We rarely have time for ourselves. We are forced to school where we get such a workload that very few of us can make any time for anything else unless we skive off some of the work and even when we manage to make time we spend it on other activities that are riddled with information like meeting friends, watching TV, reading books, commenting on pages on the interned ... etc. There is no time to just sit down and pay attention to ourselves, to feel everything around us and everything within us. I think the reason depression has risen so much in comparison to the past is because we are over-stimulated from every angle and we no longer know how to escape. We think we are relaxing when we are, for example, just sitting on the sofa, watching TV, but though we may not exactly be "doing" anything it is still stimulating us. We just need to lear to slow down before we acquire ADD and become unable to. I find that after sitting around doing nothing, and not thinking too much and definitely not negative thoughts, I feel noticeably better and calmer for even two days afterwards. The problem is finding the time.
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    Oct 19 2011: This is no small problem and there is no one solution to it.
    Depression can be linked to many different things, like situations in life. Yet I think some reasons are largely overlooked. Depression is not always the result of a difficult situation in life like social standing, lack of money, disability etc. but can be the results of simply the persons brain or genes.
    I, for example deal with depression, yet I have the most blessed life. If I had the option there would be nothing I would change, except perhaps have a bit more sun :) Depression can run in families and I believe I got it from my mothers side. My sister and me have both dealt with depression and my mother also, while she was alive, but not my father, and there is really nothing in my environment that causes it.
    I believe every person has a kind of base happiness level and that search for happiness that is so prevalent in our culture to today is doing more harm than good.
    I do not think that happiness should be set as a goal. There is no if you buy this you will be happier, if you didn't have this problem you would be happier. Rich people are often depressed even if they weren't so much before they acquired their wealth. And I think it's more this idea that is so dominant that there is some giant pot of happiness just waiting to be found. Happiness is more the journey it is the collection of a persons overall mood over a long period of time. Like snowflakes that fall from the sky collect on the earth to make a bedding. Do not wait for the giant football-sized hail-balls just stick your tongue out and enjoy the snowflakes.
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    Oct 19 2011: Chris,
    I am 60 years old and have had to deal with depression all my life. I have finally found a way that gives me hope and peace and satisfaction with life as I live it. I have found heros. As a kid I had heros and then during my tennage years the anti-hero was popular. I also turned to the world to find my peace. I found I cannot allow others to define whom I am. I must define myself. I looked to the desert fathers of about 30 to 100 AD. They went to the desert to find themselves and found that they had to fight each moment for themselves against themselves. I then found the Celtic Saints and found that I am OK just the way I am. I am part of the wonderful thing we call the universe. Each day I am grateful to be part of it. I love to look to nature and creation and see that each thing is beautiful with in itself. I pray constantly and give thanks for each good thing. I look for the good in others and find that helping them is very satisfying. Each animal, plant, bird, reptile and bug is alive and giving of itself to the beauty of creation. May I pray for you that you will find the beauty in yourself that is truly there and let it guide you not the voice of the world but that quiet inner voice that calls out to you in the times you find peace. Find a place that you find peace and go there often. Memorize that place the smell, the feel, the sounds, the heat, the cold and then use your imagination to go there when you feel stressed.
    I teach school and have had many depressed students and loved them as they are and encouraged them to do as I am you. You will find inner peace when you seek it. Not instantly but over time a little bit at a time. Be patient with yourself and others. Find the good in yourself and share it at every chance. Bless others each moment of every day.
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    Oct 18 2011: Mark,
    You offer a very interesting perspective. I imagine that the choice between life or death is one between a certainty of the pain to stop and a mystery of the life ahead. Though one can even say that death is the ultimate mystery and a positive life can have a minute degree of certainty to it (definitely from the perspective of an optimist). Even as I am typing this I am realizing that such a choice really is a lot harder than it seems. Even hypothetically speaking, let alone as a serious decision in a moment of darkness.
  • Oct 17 2011: Dear Chris,

    Many people go through this ordeal more often than we think. Or there are more people who think about this than we care to admit. I think the first real step is seek professional help. A depressed person may need some kind of treatment or therapy. I once knew somebody who was frequently depressed it turned out she had hypothyroidism. It could be real depression though for some people so it's important to seek treatment.

    Then, also people need to have a better perspective. Is death the end of it all? It's a morbid question but suicide is a solution for some because they think it's the end of it all. I thought so before but now I have my doubts. Am I 100% sure if it's the end of everything? All the talks here on TED does not give any answer lol except for a few perhaps. What if it's not? Then maybe people need more hope in this life.
  • Oct 17 2011: i agree to most of the people comments in the upper sction. its really true wat you have said that in this modern age with all the fecilities, all the things and powers in your hand and with so much knowledge as compare to the adults of 20 to 30 years before still there is increasing trend of suicide. in my openioin the main reason is that we have ignored ourselves and our purpose of being here in this world.Science where has given us all the fecilities, have taken away from us our companions, friends and people who used to be so close to us in years before. the best way to cope this is 1. keep ya self happy even shout some time loud in ya room 2. be ur best friend of ya self 3. have faith on GOD and be sure u r in this world for something so u have to work for that something for which u have been sent by GOPD to this world and work for it positively 4. go fo exercise regularly 5. be open at least to ya parents and have time with parents and siblings 6. spend time with small kids with age of 2-5 years as they do have all teh time to spend with u and made them ya best friend 7 enjoy life and have the best out of it
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    Oct 16 2011: Hi Chris,

    My late teens were at times very difficult too. I do think as you point out some underlying trends have made that period even harder on individuals as of late. I know of no silver bullet but if you hang in there better times will likely come. The fact that you come here for answers makes me confident that you are navigating this complex and chaotic world effectively, even though it may not feel like it at the moment. It is through the diversity and depth of your social connections and intellectual pursuits that you will be able to find meaning and pleasure in life. On a slight tangent check out this video by Sir Ken Robinson, I think it may be related to the increase in the rate as you mention:

    I think addressing the issues described by Sir Ken Robinson in the above video is part of the solution. I feel the issue is wider then that though, and rooted in culture. I think there is great hope today as the internet is allowing culture to become more reflective and so evolve faster. So fast you can almost feel it now from the right perspectives, but maybe not obviously visible yet in the main stream media. I am always available to discuss things further if you are interested, and I may be able to get you in touch with some of the more progressive movements and organizations via the internet where there is meaningful work and rich discussions ongoing. These activities are by no means limited to the internet, but it is one place to make the initial connections and more and more systems/services are facilitating real-world collaboration spring-boarded via internet meetings. (

    Warm Regards,
  • Oct 16 2011: In my view poor leadership is the cause. Our cultural problem of "Changing Up" is in my view, the heart of the depression problem. Being increasingly overpowered by an expectation that every moment must be used to gain something, more money, more popularity, more knowledge, more appeal to the opposite sex, more status etc. It starts young. This 'running wheel' demands continued performance. It gets faster and faster in the teens. It sucks out the innate joy that we were born with, the joy of just being here. We a not born with this 'more' addiction. Look at any 3 year old musing over a flock of passing birds. We progressively inherit this madness and some people just want to 'get off'. They are brave enough to throw in the towel. And often those still in the addiction are the ones encouraging young depressed people to get back on the wheel by DOING MORE OF SOMETHING ELSE to fix their depression. 'Changing Down' is in my view, the answer. Being shown by a trusted mentor how to safely change down, cut away, 'let go' or 'lose', helps. It is to be shown 'the road home'. Being guided by one who does not attempt to win in the debate on 'the facts' helps. This starves the unconscious of its sense of isolation and subordination. By laying down and letting it win, it will likely lift. Ironically this takes the patience and the restraint of a toddler's parent.
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    Oct 16 2011: My simple feeling on this...we need to stop throwing so many material things at our kids because you think it will make them happy. Talk to them. Every student that I've ever had that was suicidal ultimately just wanted someone to talk to that wouldn't judge them and tried to accept them for who they are. A lot of my past LGBT students still visit me years later because I was that person that just spent time to talk to them. I didn't stop them from committing suicide, I just let them talk and I listened. As a teacher of a college prep class, I also address the ideas of tolerance. I find that in classes like AVID, kids can learn about tolerance, but otherwise our educational system tends to lack this teaching. All of my 8th graders get a taste of it through reading the Diary of Anne Frank, but I think they need more lessons on the subject. Adding tolerance to the educational curriculum would help to end bullying (violence), hatred, etc. Then maybe we can reach our ultimate human potential.
  • Oct 15 2011: Hey Chris, this is amazing that you have all these people coming up with good ideas and different insights to help you and others that are dealing with this condition. That, in its self should give you more hope that there is a "smoking gun" solution to the problem, somewhere out there. I've read all these post, and have heard a lot of good advice coming from people all over the place. But the one thing that is missing in almost all of them, is, "sexuality." When you hear of teenagers being depressed, it isn't until after puberty that you see these symptoms take place. Do you ever hear of 10 and 11 year old kids getting depressed, no, not so much. It isn't until after puberty that you hear of theses things. The pressure of being a "virgin" can be overwhelming to a lot of young people, I know this from experience. And all men who remember this feeling can say the same.
    In life, we expect certain things to happen in a common way, as all others have experienced. When you are at that point, your inner-self says you have to meet a girl and have the sex like everyone else is having. And you feel like you are an outsider if you don't. Most young people have sex just to "conform" with the rest of their friends. (Joe had sex so I think that I should do the same, I don't want to be the only one who isn't.) This is a great deal of pressure that is put on top of all the other pressures, its overwhelming. So if it is about sex, just give it more time.
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      Oct 19 2011: I think you've got a very good point there, (though I don't know if sexuality is a major point for many people). I would like to point out though that the pressure to have sex and fall in love does not come only from your peers, but from society itself.
      I am asexual, meaning I have no interest in sex or sexual relationships, and so have felt this pressure very clearly. You can hardly find one movie that has no romance. The characters portrayed rarely find happiness unless they have fallen in love also, and shared a big, romantic kiss. Sex scenes are even appearing in family films nowadays, everywhere around you everybody is constantly obsessing about it, the government supports it, and the public generally expects everyone to get married, and perhaps have some kids. There is a strong stigma on being single. I didn't even know what asexual people were until about a year ago and didn't know what was "wrong" with me. I thought I was abnormal in some way, since simply, the idea of being happy without a romantic relationship is never put forward.
      People that live without love are labeled as lonely and sad. Described as not being "whole", not having found their other part, or "missing out on the greatest pleasure of life". One is bombarded with sentences like: "The reason for life is to fall in love." etc. I don't think people with normal sex drive realize what an enormous pressure is being put on everybody, and that also includes children and teenagers. This weighed heavily on me and still does, for now I worry if I can ever find a husband/wife that can love me platonically as I will him/her.
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    Oct 15 2011: Most young adults undergo depression because of loneliness, and I don't mean being alone but to have a profound connection with someone to share your day to day experiences, companionship. Make a few friends you relate to or make a compromise to have someone you like.

    Another reason why you may feel that way is because as you are growing up, you feel the burden of adjusting to societies norms and competition from peers, now this my friend you have to fight! Be strong, No one was ever great for having it easy.
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    Oct 15 2011: suicides twice as many as homicides

    many people pointed out already in here , for centuries people had a thread that whenever they felt down at the bottom of ocean they could have hand on to it and come up to the surface. I am not a religious person at all but that is true , The suicide and depression rate is almost much lower in Red states and if you ask all of those people what do you do when you feel down they tell you we pray , it is a common thing , It could be the effect of placebo but it seems to be working.

    But ask the same question from people like me, every single one will have a different answer, I personally listen to music, watch a movie or read a book , Someone else might have a very different way that may or may not work.

    I think the problem is in the Education system , We don't teach Faith anymore ( Thanks God for that ) but there is no alternative , no replacement and that empty space is gonna be there.

    The first and foremost thing that we should teach kids is how to have fun, and that is the only thing schools do not ever do.

    I am sorry if this is somehow rude but it is either of these 3 Fs , have Fait , have Fun, or get F by the 3rd option.
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    Oct 15 2011: [This is in response to David Phillips's comment. My "reply" function is not working. Is this unique to me here in China or is it a problem others are facing?]

    QUOTE: "Education, education, education."

    Yes. Good idea.

    QUOTE: You can't solve this problem with diet, drugs, or hypnosis.

    Yes we can (with a BIG unstated qualifier on the hypnosis.)*

    QUOTE: "This subject probably goes a lot deeper in the minds of these young adults, on a neurotransmitter level, not a chemical imbalance reaction."

    Neurotransmitters are chemicals.

    Which brings us to your original suggestion: "Education, education, education."

    * Not to suggest these are the only treatments or that they work in every case. There is nothing that works in every case.
  • Oct 15 2011: Education, education, education. You can't solve this problem with diet, drugs, or hypnosis. This subject probably goes a lot deeper in the minds of these young adults, on a neurotransmitter level, a chemical imbalance reaction. At a younger age in the brains development, its harder to get the right stimulation that it needs to grow and expand. College would be the first choice, but learn about something that you are all ready passionate about to keep the interest going. I was at the same thought process about how my life sucked as a teenager. But instead of going into doubt about my-self, I joined the Army. What other way to get the stimulation that the brain needs, than to spend eight weeks of mental and physical training for the mind and body. It is also where I learned a lot of Self-discipline, Self-respect, and to have respect for other human beings. KEEP THE MIND ACTIVE.
    • Oct 21 2011: Dan I disagree. I have known many college students in the midst of intensive study in fields they are passionate about, who suffer from depression.

      You may be talking about a different problem, but Depression, by definition. a physical problem in which there is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I don't believe stimulation is the problem either, as there are now opportunities for stimulation that far outpace our abilities to be stimulated. By your logic everyone before the internet came along would have been depressed, because they would not be able to get enough stimulation. Children these days are over stimulated if anything, the brain needs space and scilence to grow as well as stimulation.
      • Oct 21 2011: Pete,I agree. There are a lot that are over stimulated with technology, video games being the largest.
        And it might be that they can't achieve a balancing point between the space and silence, and all the stimulation, and are being pulled apart in each direction.
        I'm sure there was a higher rate of depression before the internet, after all, this is a great tool for social interaction between all who use it.
        It took a lot of loneliness out of a lot of people, and gave them more ways to express them-self's and to learn about others who feel the same.
        I'll bet that even some one here on TED, has overcome this condition just by talking about it with others, or just listening to people talk about it.
        Maybe we should put this topic more in the curriculum of the education systems, that could make a big difference, don't you think?
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    Oct 15 2011: [This is in response to Pete Avitable's comment. My "reply" function is not working. Is this unique to me here in China or is it a problem others are facing?]

    Hi Pete,

    I agree with you: Depression is a physical problem and diet and exercise can help (a lot!) in treating it but, sometimes, it is a little more complicated than that.

    You see, our thoughts affect our physical state so, even though I said we cannot think our way into depression, we actually can. But the condition is physical. As you say, it is an "imbalance of chemicals."

    What "causes" the imbalance might be different from case to case: for some it might be obsessive thinking that releases a particular set of neuromodulators; for others it might be diet; sometimes it could be genetic, an allergy, a pathogen, environment, social situation, stress, pain, and so on.

    That's why each one of us who experiences depression must find our "own way" to deal with it.

    The one-size-fits-all approach does not work with depression.

    But as you say, there is "a cure" ... we just have to figure out which one works in each specific case.

    I fully support the diet exercise approach to treating depression and think it is probably the closest thing we have to a "silver bullet" but there are times when it is not enough.
    • Oct 21 2011: Good point Thomas, I agree with your statement, but I'd like to clarify....

      I agree, thoughts have an impact on the chemicals in our brain. But I do believe that an effective strategy for treating depression would work regardless of the cause. Then again if the cause remains, you will most likely eventually slip back into depression, so you do need to treat the cause as well. allergies, pathogens, etc are physical causes that can be addressed by various means. social situations and stress will lead to a physical response, (i.e. excerssive cortisol production leading to systematic inflammation for example), that can over time lead to depression. But treating the physical causes is very similar.

      Just as a broken leg can be healed whether it was caused by a car accident of a sports injury, the physical root of depression can be treated whether it come from malnutrition, a trauma, stress, etc.

      I think I'm nitpicking here as I essentially agree with you.
      I guess my point in my original post was, many people are talking about how they are depressed because they are unhappy at school or whatnot, but it is very possible that you could fix your school problems and still be depressed if the physical symptoms are not addressed. It's also possible that the depression would go away if the problem becomes absent, because your body would have an altered physical reaction (i.e. excessive cortisol release from chronic stress).

      I do believe that if you treat your body right (what is right? That's a whole 'nother can of worms...), you can cure depression in 99% of cases (some people have physical problems that prevent their brain from receiving the proper nutrients). But this would not mean you would be happy, it just means your brain would be better equipped to handle the stressors you throw at it.

      I think it is very important to know the difference between unhappiness and depression, especially for those looking to help themselvs or others get out of it
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        Oct 21 2011: QUOTE: " ... I do believe that an effective strategy for treating depression would work regardless of the cause."

        Yes, I suppose that would be the definition of an effective strategy.

        I think we are in general agreement, for example, we both assert Depression is a physical ailment and it requires treatment on a physical level (by the way, I consider thinking to be a physical act.)

        You mention another interesting point: "...the difference between unhappiness and depression..."

        I don't usually bring this up when discussing Depression (because it "makes no sense" within the framework most people have for Depression) but when I have experienced Depression, it has not, necessarily, impaired my ability to be happy.

        Now, that was not true all of the time, there have been times when the experience of Depression made experiencing happiness next to impossible but for a lot of the time (when I have experienced Depression) I have been happy; Depressed and happy.

        That is one of the reasons I say, Depression (the condition) is not an emotion.

        What was affected when I was Depressed and happy?

        My ability to concentrate, my ability to make decisions, my ability to read, my ability to cope with stress, and so on.

        It is a very interesting condition. It is much more complex than most of us think (which is why I am responding when people provide "definitive, universal" treatments for it.)

        It is definitely treatable but, as I say, each case must be dealt with individually.

        Another issue with Depression is we cannot always really know what triggers it - for example, one of the things that MIGHT have triggered my experience was intense physical pain. At the time, I was living with long-term, mid- to high-levels of untreatable pain. At the same time there were several other major stressors in my life and, it is possible, it was simply more than my body could deal with.

        And, of course, it could have been something else that triggered the experience: maybe something I ate.

    There is a lot of good information here on how to solve various family, social, and ethical problems. But the simple fact is that DEPRESSION IS A PHYSICAL PROBLEM. It is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. This is why antidepressants work!

    But what causes the imbalance? Diet and excersise. Simple as that. Sugar, refined foods, grains for some people, dairy, these can all cause depression.

    Being depressed is not the same this as being sad. You might still get upset about things when you are not depressed, but most people can cure depression by eating right and excersising. And I'm not talking about low fat whole grain BS that the usda is trying to feed us. An elimination diet is the best way to find out how to cure yourself.
    Some useful things to google: tryptophan, sugar and depression, etc.

    there is a lot of bad info out there, so approach with a critical eye. remember DEPRESSION IS A PHYSICAL PROBLEM.
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    Oct 14 2011: Hi Adriaan, I was unable to post this under your reply so I have added it here ... out of sequence.


    Hi Adriaan,

    Thanks for your reply.

    You seem to have missed my points.

    One point I am making is your world view is not universally shared and if you communicate from within your worldview many people will disregard what you have to say whether it is useful or not.

    Simply using the terms "heaven" and "hell" is enough for some people to stop listening to you. If the terms "heaven" and "hell" are important to you, then fine, use them, and accept the consequences.

    However, if your intent is to help deal with depression (or whatever the topic is) you could probably express yourself, and make a valuable contribution, without using archaic spiritual nomenclature that many people reject.

    Other points refer to the fundamental understanding you have about things such as thoughts, the brain, and depression itself - which, as you choose to express them, indicate a lack of understanding. Perhaps you are speaking "metaphorically." If you are, your meaning may be obscured. If you are not, I suggest your understanding of the topics is incomplete.

    I have not mentioned what I think of love or "spiritual activity" and would appreciate it if you limited our conversation to the topic at hand, focus on what is said (not what is not said) and refrain from jumping to conclusions about what I am able or unable to do.

    For example, you suggest I am unable to "think outside the box" ... Are you?

    PS If you are interested in child-rearing practices I highly recommend Jean Liedloff's book "The Continuum Concept."
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    Oct 14 2011: Hi Chris, See the Islam point view of suicide and depression.
  • Oct 14 2011: Thanks for bringing this up Chris. I agree with Winston that the competitive nature of the life in U.S is a major reason for depression. I was reading a book called ( One small barking dog) It's discussing the same matter.
  • Oct 14 2011: Hi Chris! You are 17 and SMART! The one thing I can tell you, Dude! You have the world by the balls! I am so sorry for what you have been thru. You have the intelligence to be on TED! You will get so much advice and support! Stop the suicide talk! You have this one life, live!! (besides, you are cute!) yea!
  • Oct 14 2011: It's easier than you think to come out of this and for you to help others. I was there when I was younger and it was pure misery at times and I got really close to ending it more than once.

    THE ANSWER: You have not had the passage to manhood. Your father, like so many has not shown you what it is to become a man and you are lost.

    WHAT I SUGGEST YOU DO FIRST: Read, just the first 80 pages of "Raising a Modern Day Knight." That's all I ask. Yes, this book is something your dad should have read but read it and your eyes will be open. I would assume your dad is too busy for you but more so, was never taught how to be a man by his father or had no real role models. Well, you can do something about it and make it better for your kids and break that legacy and start a new path.

    THE PROBLEM WITH OUR SOCIETY: Passive fathers, a broken school system, and our culture in America is lost. I have a lot of higher education and have experienced much in life and what I can tell you is don't look to your teachers, especially when you get to college. Most are lost and hiding from the real world covering up their inadequacies, using book smarts to seem like they have it together. You need to be around real people, those who live and love and are passionate about life.

    YOUR HOPE: It's going to be hard and don't buy into the BS Steve Jobs said - "If you don't love what you are doing, quit and do something else." That is the biggest lie. You need to love what you are doing right now. Everyone can't be a doctor or save the world. A lot of people around the world have very little but so many who have not are happy. It's about your attitude and loving where you are now but please just read that book and become a Knight.

    YOU AND WOMEN: If you live a life like a Knight, watch how your life changes quickly. Become the example - fight passivity, accept responsibility, be courageous, and expect the greater reward.
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      Oct 14 2011: Mark,

      I appreciate your sentiment and accept that if what you espouse motivates you (or anyone) to take effective action, that action can (in some cases) alleviate depression; but to assert or even insinuate that depression is caused by passive fathers (etcetera) is nonsense.

      That is like saying homosexuality is caused by domineering mothers.

      One of the greatest treatments for depression is action ... physical exercise. So if what you are talking about stimulates action, that action can work wonders. But there are times when action is not enough. Being a "knight" just won't cut it. Not all of time. Not with depression.

      Riding a bike - without all the passive father and aspiring to be a knight baggage - will be just as effective as a treatment for depression (in many cases) as any "jousting" might be.

      QUOTE: "Become the example - fight passivity, accept responsibility, be courageous, and expect the greater reward."

      I agree with this 100%.
  • Oct 14 2011: Mind is like a monkey,it can jump from one thought to another nonstop.
    If the negative thoughts emerge and goes into a spiral, the tornado
    created within will destroy the ability to reason causing depression.

    The ability of a person to be watchful of his own thoughts and
    correct the course when required is the real SELF CONFIDENCE.

    To develop this SELF CONFIDENCE you can seek professional help
    or the most important , develop your self confidence by questioning
    every thing with out tiring and get the answers to your questions.

    Spirituality with the right spirit is an absolute antidote to low self esteem.

    Every body is born and every body has to one day perish, but what to
    do in between these two is a big question. The one's who can find even
    glimpse of meaning of life set some goals and spend time to fulfill them,
    others when they fail to see any purpose to continue living find a solution
    in suicide.

    Finding the purpose of life gives a meaning to living.
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    Oct 14 2011: HI Chris,

    I have depression. It is "in remission" but it can pop up at any time.

    I have had two or three episodes that were completely debilitating. The bad news is they suck and they feel like they are going to last forever. The good news is, they don't (although while we are experiencing depression that statement feels false.)

    The other good news is depression is treatable and the treatments are getting better. My first experience was about 30 years ago and the treatment, at that time, was not that great. I think it was time more than anything that helped. But receiving treatment did provide a sense of hope and that is a very good thing.

    My second experience was about 12 years ago. The treatment I received then was much more effective and there were fewer side effects. Also, having gone through the process once before made it less frightening.

    One thing that helped was understanding it is a physical condition like diabetes or a broken leg; it is not something wrong with "me" ... it is something wrong with my body (usually described as a chemical imbalance.)

    Another thing that helped me a lot was simply acting like I did not have depression: Walking briskly and with purpose, holding my head up, whistling, etc. It sounds simplistic (and maybe easy) ... it wasn't, it took months before I could do it but when I started, it really helped. ("Fake it, 'til you make it" therapy! ... I just made that up.)

    Life is good. Depression sucks. And the lessons we can learn from depression are very valuable indeed ... we just have to come out the other side before we can see that.
    • Oct 14 2011: You have yet to find the root cause. You are in need of someone to really deeply love you. I don't think you are genetically messed up and have no way out. You just haven't addressed the root cause and stepped out and said enough and took responsibility for yourself. Sorry, you are posting all over this conversation and your advice is depressing and not leading to a solution and it's too important for me to just read it and say nothing because of how sensitive this subject is and I don't want kids to take it as if you speak from truth. As you stated to others - it may be your truth but it's not the answer to your own admission. Please take life by the horns and live brother.
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        Oct 14 2011: Mark,

        Again I appreciate your sentiments but I assert you simply do not know what I have found and what I have not found.

        For example, you might think I am "depressed" because I have "depression."

        I am not.

        You admonish me to take life by the horns and yet have no idea what I have or have not done (that you would interpret as "taking life by the horns.")

        It is wonderful you have found something that works for you but, I assure you, you are not qualified to diagnose or treat depression on an internet forum.

        And I return the sentiment: "I don't want kids to take it as if you speak from truth."

        Truth for you? ... Maybe. Truth for all? .... Absolutely not.
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    Oct 14 2011: Chris,
    Thank you and keep asking this question. Give us your opinions of what we are writing to you. You are one of the people helping to cure the horrific cancer of teen suicide. And please, put the word out as much as you can, that it is alright and necessary to tell an adult if a friend is suicidal. No child should carry this information and, many times, adults really can help stop a kid from killing him or herself. It is a very big thing you have done here.
    Thank you, Chris.
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    Oct 13 2011: We are all biologically related.

    Inspiring to be unique and an individual, makes you less of both. But, one must recognize we are all naturally unique in persona (developing personalities), and that nurtures/nurturings made/make us think we are not more different than that. We lie to ourselves daily, we are not born with knowledge beside instincts; our instincts (natural biological mechanisms of body/mind) hold the abilities to expand knowledge.

    There is no self without relations.

    Philosophy literally translate to "love of wisdom". While you are following the "God" of knowledge, you become wise, aware, enlightened and overall "knowing". As you take the path of knowledge you find what happiness really is and where to find it. It is non-specific.


    Modern education today is based on academia. Academic education inspires to "this is it" "here is a pattern" "repeat"...
    "Academia teach politicians without politics." That is not how is not how anyone should examine the world always, completely and/or traditionally. In any topic, subject or philosophy.

    Teach kids to build their natural abilities to explore, they will find happiness naturally.

    But a tip: Surround yourself with what you love to learn about.
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    Oct 11 2011: The only way I believe we can prevent depression among youth is to tackle the factors that cause depression - such as bullying. Bullying is one of the number one reasons youth commit suicide. Having a different sexual orientation, different appearance, you talk different etc. leads to bullying. Isn't that ridiculous! Being YOURSELF most likely will lead to you being bullied. But that's the fact of it bullying then leads to depression and sadly for most youth the chain ends at death(suicide). How can we prevent depression/suicide? Have you ever noticed that in commercials for Anti- depression medications one of the side effects are "taking _____ can also lead to suicide or taking _________ can lead to thoughts of suicide" So even these drugs that parents provide for their children has a chance of ultimately not helping that child deal with depression. Now teens are at the stage were they want to feel independent, they don't want to go to their parents, adults to help solve their problems. So what happens is they end up dealing with depression alone. I believe in order to help prevent depression parents,teachers etc must be aware of circumstances that are happening around them. Teachers for instance are so important because they are witnesses to bullying. Steps can be taken to guarantee the safety of a student who is being bullied. Schools need to STEP UP and talk about these things to teens let them know they can talk to counselors or who ever they feel comfortable with when they are dealing with issues. Also parents need to be involved with their children. Ask questions, observe behavior and number one TALK TO YOUR CHILD. Most kids who deal with depression are dying for someone to just say "hey, how are you feeling?" So honestly all we can do to help prevent this is to just care, make an effort to comfort someone you see who is either being bullied or is dealing with depression. Cause most of the time they just need someone to talk to.
  • Oct 11 2011: Just to clarify, this question doesn't pertain at all to me except me mentioning that I have experience in the area. Just wondering what you guys think on the subject. (i am way past being depressed btw!) Thanks!
  • Oct 10 2011: Make them stop watching too much TV????
    • Oct 10 2011: Well since you brought it up, what do you think is the correlation between teens watching TV and depression/suicide? What shows/movies could possibly affect teens to fall into depression? Why do you think these shows/movies do so?
      • Oct 11 2011: Well, this is my humble opinion but when I mentioned TV I primarily thought of NEWS, mainstream media oh and also reality shows. Commercials as well. I mean an average human brain gets it that a movie is fiction but when you watch news regularly, commericals and reality shows - especially when it comes to younger peopele, teenagers etc it really makes way too much impression if not even a way of brainwashing them. What do they see in these news and shows? Violence, corruption, buying and selling (even the human spirit and values in reality shows) making absolutly nothing sacred. It leaves little to compliment the human species. After all, most of the tenagers think hey this is life, I should adapt and look, act, speak, eat., think, buy like that box shows me to. No offense, but I had the best time at collage cuz I refused to have a TV for around two years. I dunno, what do you think?
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        Oct 11 2011: I think it's not so much WHAT is on the tv or the computer. Rather the fact that those things are solitary activities, and because they are (or we believe they are) entertaining, they are also kind of addicting. But it only causes people to be isolated and lonely and from there it's a straight way down the hill.
        I have dealt with such issues myself, sometimes still do, and in my opinion loneliness is a great part of depression. The feeling that you can't trust anyone and can't count on anyone. And if you isolate yourself from people, it's only going to get worse.
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        Oct 11 2011: In addition to the good points you have both made, IIijana and Renata, there is a lot of violence on TV and video games, and I believe young children, teens and even some adults begin to "normalize" violent behaviors.
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          Oct 11 2011: I agree with you on this, Colleen, but I don't think there is much connection between violence and depression. Thinking about it, I think it's not the violence, but all the action, the excitement, whether it be negative or positive - in comparison, our real life seems pretty boring. To this day, sometimes when I watch movies or tv shows I think to myself, "oh, why can't my life be like that?" TVs and computers offer a substitue world instead of our own, and I think many of us consider the real one boring and depressing after that.
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        Oct 11 2011: Renáta,
        Not much connection between violence and depression? What about the recent teen suicides that are growing in numbers because of depression caused by, and reinforced with bullying?

        The question Chris asks is:
        What can we do about the constant rise of depression and suicide in young adults? It seems that violence and bullying is a major factor in many recent teen suicides.
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          Oct 11 2011: Yes, that's true. I haven't thought about it that way, maybe because bullying and depression are two sides of the same coin.
          However when I was in school - at least in my school - there was no bullying at all. So I have no experience in that. But some students, myself included, were still depressed. Probably this question is actually much more complicated than we think it is...
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        Oct 11 2011: Renáta,
        I think you're right...the question, and possible answers to the question, can be very complicated because there are often many different factors. It seems that bullying and depression can be connected, and may not be the cause for depression and suicide in all individuals.

        What was the cause of your depression, and the depression of other students? You mention above that your life was boring?