The world is always changing. It is especially hard for parents to relate to their teenage children because even though they too were once this age, they have no idea what it is like to been a teenager in society today. Our parents had to deal with romantic issues in relationships, peer pressure, low self-esteem, and fighting with friends. But in society today, teens have to deal with all of that and more. These constantly moving parts include social media, cyberbullying, unrealistic expectations set by the media, pop culture, and celebrities, and photo shopped images and advertisements.
Causes of depression in teens
Both teenage boys and girls have always had to deal with issues involving self-esteem. These feelings are a result of strict gender roles that have been imposed and deeply engrained on the minds and bodies of all members of society throughout childhood. These gender roles enforce toxic masculinity in males and fragile femininity in females. Boys and girls are taught from a very young age that they must conform to these societal “norms,” or they will be ostracized from their community. They are taught that if they cannot conform to these ideals, there is something wrong with them.
Strictly imposed gender roles are problematic for a number of reasons. It can lead to feelings of insubordination and feeling like not a “real man,” or “real woman.” Men are put down for showing their emotions and deviating from anything that may appear to be not “masculine.” It can also lead to women being oppressed economically, socially, and politically. This can lead to feels of inadequacy which can lead to deeper mental health issues that can stick with the individual for life.
Gender roles can lead to many dangerous and unwanted outcomes for teenagers who identify as being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Suicide and mental health rates are extremely high for those who identify as non-binary, homosexual, or transgender. LGBT youth has a long history of battles against drug addiction and mental health issues including anxiety and depression, for a long list of reasons.
Signs of depression in teens
Take for example a young individual that was just born with the genitalia of both a male and a female. This is fairly common, but in today’s current society, it is a common medial practice for doctors to “choose” for the child which surgery to perform to make the genitalia be either male or female. Imagine this individual was “chosen” to be a boy, just moments after they were born. They have no real say in the matter. Many individuals have actually reported being extremely angry at their parents and doctors for making this decision for them, and not waiting until they were old enough to make the choice themselves.
Growing up, this young man will take medication and go through treatment to produce male hormones and develop male sex characteristics. They will be socialized to talk like a boy, walk like a boy, dress like a boy, and act like a boy. But what if deep down on the inside, this individual just knows that they were not meant to be a male. From the bottom of their soul, they can feel that their true identity is female.
Handling a drug addict child
A situation like this can go many ways. If the child is being raised in a household that is extremely traditional and anti-trans, they may not feel safe to be open about their true identity. They may choose to push those feelings down and hide who they truly are. This can lead to a deep seeded feeling of self-hatred, various mental health issues, drug addiction as a result of self-medicating against the mental health issues, and sometimes even suicidal thoughts or actions caused from feelings of being trapped in the “wrong” body. Luckily, teens who have been through situations like this have loads of emotional supports, and many forms of teen mental health treatment to look into.
Instead of pushing their feelings down, this individual can also chose to come out as their true self to everyone around them. This choice has the possibility of the individual being rejected from their loved ones, cast out, and sometimes kicked out of their own homes. They could become outcasts, and possibly be forced to live a life on the streets sustained by drug addiction and even prostitution. In the worst case scenario, the individual will end up alone and with nowhere to turn.
There is one positive scenario that could play out in this situation. There is a way that this situation can lead to positive mental health and a life free from drugs. This can result from a parent and community accepting the individual when they come out as their true self. This can result from positive feedback and approval from those who support the individual.
Teen mental health
When the parent of an LGBT youth reacts to their child coming out, it can have much greater implications then they may know. A bad reaction can create deeply rooted problems for the individual, and may cause them to lash out or rebel in dangerous ways. Tens are met with stressful situations every day. They are constantly being put into new environments and meeting conflict that they have never faced before all throughout adolescence.
When parents learn to effectively communicate with their children about drugs and mental health, hopefully more drastic situations and consequences can be avoided. If you ever think that your child is suffering from depression or any other type of mental illness, do not be afraid to talk to them or seek out help from a trained professional. Get them help before it is too late.