Lighting up depression and anxiety

September 3rd, 2019

Most parents are concerned at some point that their teenager will become tangled up in drugs or alcohol and cause life-long damage. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, serious depression is on the rise. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for adolescents aged 15 to 19, rising above homicide and coming in second to motor vehicle fatalities. The long-term risks associated with depression and anxiety can no longer be pushed aside.

Risk-taking behavior declining

Alcohol and illicit drug use are on the decline with 24% fewer high school seniors consuming alcohol than in 1991. However, from 2007 to 2017, the total number of teenagers who recently experienced a depressive episode rose 59%. While both boys and girls experience depression, girls are almost 3 times more likely to struggle with depression than their male peers. For perspective, in a 40-person youth group, at least 5 teenagers have experienced a major depressive episode in the last school year. Researchers are working to determine what’s behind the increase. In a study done by the Pew Research Center last fall, 61% of teenagers age 13-17 said “they personally felt a lot of pressure to get good grades” and roughly 30% said they felt “a lot of pressure to look good and fit in socially.” 

What does God say?

As Christians, we believe “nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38a), including suicide. As United Methodists, our Social Principles state: “We believe that suicide is not the way a human life should end. Often suicide is the result of untreated depression, or untreated pain and suffering.” The Bible speaks to how we handle pain and suffering — from the way we name our experiences, to the hope we encounter in Christ, and ultimately to the coping skills we need to overcome a seemingly overwhelming obstacle.

Question of the day: Who do you talk to when you are feeling down?
Focal scriptures: Psalm 40; Hebrews 11; Genesis 9:8-11, 18-23

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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