School is a major stressor since it takes up the entire day. In addition, students need to spend long hours on homework or extracurricular activities. For some children and teenagers, depression and anxiety can make school a greater challenge.
Unfortunately, social stigma around mental conditions still exists among people of all ages. Sometimes you get to hear your loved one say: School makes me depressed. In order to counteract depression and anxiety, students and parents need to be educated about mental illness. If the school makes you or your child or teenager depressed, this article is for you.
Statistics on Depression in School
Adolescent depression is on the rise, says the National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM). A study in 2016 revealed that over 3 million teenagers aged 12 to 17 in the US had experienced at least one major depressive episode during the year.
In a nutshell, nearly 13% of the US population in that age group had struggled with serious depression. On top of that, over 2 million adolescents had to deal with severe impairment as a result. However, less than 20% received treatment from a health professional.
The stats are concerning, but it’s not only teenagers who struggle with depression and anxiety. Rates of childhood depression have also been rising in the last years. However, some people still wonder if the school can make infants depressed. The numbers, though, speak for themselves.
The research revealed that 1 out of 6 children in the US aged 2 to 8 had a mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder in 2016. That being said, you should seek professional help if you have the feeling that school makes you or your child or teenager depressed.
What is Depression & What Causes it?
Although some fears and worries are typical in children and teenagers, persistent forms of sadness or fear could be caused by anxiety or depression. Mental health issues are serious, and if left untreated, they can lead to more severe episodes or suicide in worst case scenario. However, parents and students need to know what depression exactly is before they can take any steps to address it. What is depression? Is it school making you or your child depressed?
A major depressive disorder is a mental condition that can interfere with the child’s or adolescent’s ability to tackle daily activities, such as eating, sleeping, showering, or studying. Although it’s pretty common, it’s also serious. Depression and anxiety can happen at any age, and can be triggered by many factors, such as genetics, traumatic events, or socio-economic situations.
Some people still believe that depression is a sign of weakness or a character flaw. Well-intended friends and family might tell a depressed infant or teen to be positive and more active, but the truth is that only professionals can treat this condition the same way doctors treat broken bones.
If injured people are taken to hospital, why are depressed individuals expected to heal by themselves? Alongside with misunderstanding are stigma and the idea that depression and anxiety should be taboo subjects. But yes, the school can make students depressed.
Youth suicidal ideation, attempt, and completion are on the rise. In 2017, 6,200 teenagers ended their lives in the US. More recent results revealed that nearly 19% of high school students seriously considered attempting suicide. Sadly, almost 9% tried to put an end to their suffering.
According to the Los Angeles Times, suicide is thought to be the second cause of death for Americans aged 10 to 34. Although research has yet failed to root out the specific causes for this level of distress, the young generation’s relationship to social media seems to be a key factor.
School Makes Me Depressed. Or is it Social Media?
Evidence suggests that there is a link between social media and depression. According to several studies, teenagers who spend a long time on apps like Instagram were shown to have a substantially higher rate of depression. Smartphones were introduced in 2007, and by 2015 around 90% of teenagers and young adults owned one.
Nowadays, teenagers spend much less time connecting with their friends in person and more time connecting virtually. Social media relationships, though, are less emotionally satisfying. On top of that, young adults, especially girls, compare themselves with artfully curated images of those who appear to be thinner, prettier, and richer.
Kids spend their time on social media trying to post what they believe others will think is a perfect life. Likes boost their mood, but lacking them can make them feel miserable. In addition, kids who spend too much time on social media engage in less physical activities and things that create a sense of accomplishment.
Suicide Signs to Watch for
Severely depressed teens, especially those who abuse alcohol and drugs, often consider suicide as an option. Depression is extremely dangerous when left untreated, so don’t wait for the symptoms to go away. If you feel that school makes you or your kid depressed, also look out for the following signs:
- Talking or joking about committing suicide
- Writing stories or poems about death
- Engaging in reckless behavior
- Giving possessions away
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Seeking out pills and weapons to commit suicide
If you or your children exhibit suicidal behaviors, call the National Suicidal Prevention Lifeline at 1 – 800 – 273 – TALK.
Can School Make Students Depressed?
The same way some adults are not cut out for an office routine, a school can make children and teenagers depressed. Whether the issue is a high-stress environment or sensory overload, sometimes a school is simply not a good fit. And when your kid or teenager is struggling with mental illness, a bad fit can have a very poor outcome.
People who struggle with depression exhibit a host of symptoms such as low mood, poor concentration, and lack of energy and motivation. As a result, some kids and teenagers do not want to go to school. However, mental health professionals encourage students with depression to attend school every day, as missing lessons could contribute to the depression increasing in severity.
In any case, mentally ill students should be monitored by a psychologist or psychiatrist. So, if the school is making you or your children depressed, get hold of a mental health professional as soon as possible.
Why Is School Giving Me or My Teenager Anxiety?
It’s common for kids of all ages to experience school-related stress. But where does it come from? Academic, social, and scheduling factors play a major role, as well as hidden environmental stressors. Below are some of the reasons that can make students anxious:
While most students consider social interaction their favorite part of the school, it can also be a great source of stress. Concerns about not having enough of them or not being in the same class as they can cause anxiety even in the most confident kids.
The good news is that the days of teachers turning a blind eye are long gone, and many schools actually feature anti-bullying programs and policies. Although bullying still happens at many schools, help is more accessible nowadays.
The bad news is that bullying has gone high-tech, and some teenagers use the Internet to bully their counterparts. This way, they don’t have to face their targets. On top of that, many parents are unaware of the situation, and their children are too overwhelmed to deal with it.
Hectic school and activity schedules can make students anxious and depressed. In an effort to provide the best possible developmental experiences, many parents enroll their children in too many extra-curricular activities. Some other times, the school workload and the exam-writing schedules are just too much.
Lack of Family Time:
Due to parents’ and students’ hectic lives, the sit-down family dinner or the weekend getaway have become the exception rather than the rule in many households. As a result, many parents are not connected to their kids and are not knowledgeable about the issues and challenges they face on a daily basis.
Not Enough Sleep:
School, or any other demanding activity, can make students anxious and depressed if they get less sleep than they need. Operating under a sleep deficit can result in poor cognitive functioning, moodiness, and lack of coordination.
Is School Refusal a Disorder?
It is. Students with school refusal may complain of physical symptoms when it’s time to leave for school or repeatedly ask to visit a doctor or the school nurse. If the kid or teenager is allowed to stay home, the symptoms quickly disappear. In some cases, kids may refuse to leave the house.
These students have normally average or above-average intelligence, but they might develop severe social and educational problems if their fears keep them away from school and friends for a long period of time. However, parents should assess the situation before forcing their kids into school. In some cases, such as bullying situations, the best option might be to change schools.
School refusal affects 2 to 5 percent of school-aged students, and it generally takes place at times of transition. Starting school, making friends, moving or other reasons may trigger the onset of school refusal. If the school makes your or your child depressed or anxious, visit a general practitioner, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist in order to get professional help.
Signs of School Depression & Anxiety
It is not easy to differentiate between normal growing up struggles and mental illness, but below you can find some of the symptoms of depression. Teens are more likely to depression than younger kids. Although this condition is easily treatable, too many depressed kids never receive professional help. On top of medication and psychotherapy, guidance, love, and support can put depressed individuals on their way to recovery.
School may be making you or your kids depressed. Unlike adults, who are able to seek help on their own, teens rarely rely on teachers, parents, or other caregivers. In addition, depressed kids don’t necessarily look sad. Instead, anger, irritability, and agitation could be the most prominent signs. Here are some symptoms of school depression:
- Loss of interest in activities
- Hopelessness or sadness
- Frequent crying
- Poor school performance
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Difficulty concentrating
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Thoughts of suicide
Depression in adults can look very different from depression in teens. For example, depressed kids are extremely sensitive to criticism. They also tend to withdraw from people, but often keep some friends. Hormones can explain the occasional bout of teenage angst, but not permanent and unrelenting lethargy, irritability, and unhappiness.
How to Talk to a Depressed Kid
If you believe school is making your child depressed, open up a dialogue by letting him or her know the symptoms you have noticed and why you are concerned. Then ask your kid to share what he or she is going through and offer all your support. Do not ask too many questions, as children and teens can get overwhelmed, but make it clear you are willing to help.
- Be gentle but persistent: Don’t drop the ball if they shut you out on your first attempt. Even if they want to tell you that school makes them depressed, talking about mental illness can be tough for them.
- Focus on listening and don’t lecture them: Resist any urge to pass judgement or criticize while your child is communicating. You will do the most good simply by proving them you love them.
- Acknowledge their feelings: Well-intended attempts to sugarcoat the situation might make them feel you don’t take their emotions seriously. Just make sure they feel understood and supported.
- Trust your gut: If your kids claim nothing is wrong but school makes him or her depressed, trust your instincts. If he or she won’t open up to you, consider turning into a trusted third party, such as a teacher, a counselor, or a mental health professional.
How to Help a Depressed Kid
If you sense that school makes your child depressed, make face time a priority, and set aside time to chat every day. Also, make sure you combat social isolation by connecting your infant or teenager to others. For this purpose, you can invite friends over or encourage your child to go visit them.
You can also help your son or daughter by suggesting activities like painting, dancing or playing sports. This way, they will slowly re-engage with the world. On top of that, try to promote volunteerism, since doing things for others can work wonders. Help your kid find a cause they are interested in that can give them a sense of purpose.