The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Depression Doesn't Discriminate

I can understand why kids who live in poverty suffer from depression: they are malnourished, exposed to diseases and often confronted by death. However, I believe it is foolish to assume that the rich and privileged are exempt from depression. Despite living in a rich and supportive environment like TAS, we are equally exposed to depression as impoverished children, and we must understand what factors cause depression and how to effectively combat depression to help those in need.
Depression can happen to anyone, no matter how poor or rich you are. “Depression is definitely a disease that doesn’t respect privilege or status,” says Sherri Grande, TAS’s Upper School psychologist. “Having privilege doesn’t inoculate you against having bad things happen, it’s a disease like any.” Depression does not discriminate and that alone makes it a very dangerous psychological disease because it can attack anyone at any given time.
Trauma, abuse and family problems are key factors in causing depression through dramatic changes to emotional levels and personal outlook of the world, but studies have shown that the pressure to succeed is the biggest factor that leads to depression.
Children of affluent families are often expected to succeed in academics, extracurricular and social aspects. Parents who spend huge sums of money for their children often hold high expectations for their children and put a relentless amount of pressure on their children to succeed. When the expectation is a reasonable and attainable goal, students begin to see expectations as a necessity, an obligation for students to fulfill at all costs. This obligation creates immense pressure for students to try to exceed expectations. If and when the student fails to accomplish the task, the student’s confidence and self-esteem will suffer.
Furthermore, wealthy parents want their children to follow what they had done before to attain the same amount of success and benefits they achieved. These parents force their children to follow their footsteps of success whether the goal is to become a doctor, physician, engineer or any other successful job. This mentality puts more emphasis on achievement and ignores what the child wants. When parents exert this pressure on children, the children would not only think that success is viewed more importantly than their own happiness but also think that their personal opinion is completely ignored. These thoughts are detrimental to a child’s mental health and outlook. Children who have these thoughts show increased symptoms of depression or anxiety. In fact, pressure is one of the biggest factors in triggering potential problems that can lead to depression or anxiety.
How can we effectively combat depression? A simple answer would be through counseling and medication but that is not my main point. Even before we think about counseling or medication, we need to think of how to prevent depression from happening to us. Parents have every right to push us to do our best but we cannot and should not tell our parents to change; it is simply out of our control.
What we can do to help ourselves alleviate some pressure is to change the way we perceive expectations. Instead of viewing expectations as a necessity, we can change the way we look at expectations by setting our own expectations that are different from what parents would give us. While parents may expect high expectations, we can dictate our own expectations to be much lower or none at all. Lowering our own expectations gives us more breathing room when we take on assessments and it gives us higher chances to satisfy ourselves. We also need to train ourselves to be mentally strong in order to face high expectations and pressure from parents, teachers and peers to perform well in school. We need to be able to make friends and have friends that we feel comfortable talking to about difficult subjects and friends that we know are willing to us in times of need. The biggest part of having a healthy sense of self is knowing yourself, which constitutes your strengths and weaknesses, and knowing how to move forward, utilizing your strengths and weaknesses to make decisions that can impact your future. If you understand and know yourself, you would know which decisions you make and enable you to experience fewer difficulties in life. It is very important for us to know ourselves so that we can experience less difficulties and have a lower chance of getting into problems that may lead to depression. A healthy sense of self is important for growing up in the future and for you to move forward to continue building on your life.
There are obstacles that prevent us from recognizing depression that can become very problematic. “I don’t think necessarily [that] privilege plays a role,” says Ms. Grande, “but I think sometimes it keeps people from getting help.” This mindset is what most privileged students would harbor in their heads because they continue to believe that the issues are minor since having a higher status stops them from looking at the big picture. Another obstacle to getting help is covering up or “masking” where people express emotions differently between the inside and outside. Students can act like they are happy but are actually depressed by putting on a “mask” that stops people from seeing what is actually happening. These obstacles often stop people from getting adequate help and makes the depression worse.  
Depression is a big problem that does not target specific people and does not have a specific cure. We should not let depression reach us first and instead, try to prevent depression from ever catching us so that we do not suffer from the perils of depression.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All THE BLUE & GOLD Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *