By Paonam Thoibi
`It is quite common for adolescents having occasional mood swings, especially when they are nearing their periods. But if she shows unusual irritability and sadness or crying that becomes concerning`
Q: My daughter is in her eleventh class. She is normally an outgoing and jolly child but has become idle of late. She shows no interest in anything she used to do. I am scared if she is having depression. What are the warning signs and what do I do about it? Basanti, Sega Road.
Ans: Dear Reader, it is quite common for adolescents having occasional mood swings, especially when they are nearing their periods. But if she shows unusual irritability and sadness or crying that becomes concerning. This is one of the early signs that your teenager child is having depression. If there was anybody in the family who has had depression there are chances of her developing similar symptoms. Observe the change in grades, performances, friendship in school. Observe if they are talking less about their friends and showing no interest. See if she alone in her room or aloof from the rest of the family most of the time. You have already said she shows less interest in anything she used to do. Try to let her talk out and share her feelings. If this is difficult, please consult the counselor in school or a mental health professional to know what exactly she is going through.
Q: What is the best thing I can do as a friend for a person who is having mental illness? There is this friend of ours and he is showing weird behaviors since he was a kid. We don`™t know what his problem is and we are not able to talk about this freely to his parents too. But we know for sure that he is going to see a doctor quite often. -name withheld
Ans: Dear Reader, it must be difficult on your part to initiate a dialogue with your friend or his parents about his condition. You must be also feeling that there isn`™t much you can do about it. But let me tell you, there are a lot of good things you can do. To start off, you can try to build an environment that encourages him to open up. Changing how you act and speak to them can create a lot of difference. They are highly functional people who must be having areas which are not affected and they can perform in a conducive environment. Don`™t be quick to label them as `crazy`™, `insane`™, `stupid` etc. Treat people with mental illnesses with respect and dignity, just as you would anybody else. Most importantly, learn more about mental health to remove your doubts and share the facts with others too.
Q: Dear Madam, nowadays there are a lot of teenagers drinking alcohol. If people dread Drug addiction so much why do they have drugs? They use drugs making it look like drug addiction is a voluntary choice. Please comment. -Prahlad, Imphal West
Ans: Dear Reader, your observation is not wrong but it isn`™t right too. It is not true that all teenagers drink or do drugs. Even if the majority uses, there are still a percentage of youth who are not into it and are aware of its consequences. These very youngsters can influence others who are trapped in the habit and help them come out of it.
People do drink or experiment with a drug for a first time voluntarily even if they are pressured by peer and surrounding. Addiction however is not voluntary. Over time, abuse of alcohol or drugs can alter the body`™s biochemistry and result in addiction. For some persons, addiction happens immediately, for others the process can take longer. Each substance can cause different changes in the neurological circuit, but in general they seem to affect the “reward circuits” or “pleasure pathways,” the information pathways that tell the brain when something is pleasurable. The changes can make normal, pleasure-producing things seem less pleasurable, while reinforcing the need to use the addicting agent
Not everyone who takes drugs or drinks alcohol will become addicted. Genetics and environment together play a role in a person becoming addicted to drugs. There are risk factors which increase the chance for addiction just as there are for other diseases and disorders. They include the type of the drugs; which means that some substance can cause addiction faster. Other factors like genetics also play a huge role. For example, study reveals children of substance using parents are more vulnerable to drug addiction. The age of introduction to a drug is also critical. Earlier the exposure easier it is to become an addiction. The social environment where one thrives is also a factor. Any psychological condition like anxiety, depression, mood disorders, adjustment issues and conflicts also makes a person vulnerable. Children who have had a history of neglect, abuse (psychological, physical and/or sexual) and other traumatic experiences are at greater risk of developing addiction.
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