Peer Pressure at Its Peak Towards Teenage Depression

Peer Pressure at Its Peak Towards Teenage Depression

“Sakit kaayo kung sawayon ko sa akong mga amigo tungod kay nalahi ko o dili musabay sa ilang kabuang.” (It hurts my ego when my friends judge me for simply not doing everything they do) , a fragile statement from Roque Blanco (personal communication , November 28,2015). At a young age of fifteen, peer pressure has been beating him emotionally. This , even just a simple case not even worth to bat an eye as we may think , is already a brink towards the deep abyss called teenage depression. The latter has been one of the serious problem in our country. Each day , there is an increasing rate of depressed teenagers. According to the 2012 World Happiness Report , the Philippines is ranked as “the least happiest in Southeast Asia or 103rd out of 155 surveyed countries worldwide. In additional , Department of Health (DOH) also stated that we have the highest case of depression in Southeast Asia. The 2011 data from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that “the Philippines has the highest incidence of depression in Southeast Asia with 93 suicides for every 100,000 Filipinos” (Reports Say Filipinos Are Sad and Depressed in the Philippines” . Ilda. 2012. para1 & 2). In a fused and minimized statement , there is one out of five teenagers who is currently experiencing depression.

DSC02164                                       Photo Taken: November 28,2015

Depression is a serious problem especially if this actually took over your teenage life. Defining depression is subjective but never will it be positive. In a video documentary about depression  , an anonymous interviewee said that depression is actually “feeling your brain as it crashed up in an isolated turmoil of despair”. There is 25% chance that you’ll experience depression at the same stage of your life. In Manchester University , Professor Ian Anderson studied “Brain 3 imaging” for the past fifteen years. He explicitly explained that there’s this part of the brain that is responsible for the memory and emotions . The hippocampus has gray matter that connects the nerve cells. However, the hippocampus in the depressed teen’s brain tends to shrink because of the decreasing amount of gray matter which means the brain is slowly deteriorating too. The study proves that the hippocampus is smaller and tends to shrink in depressed people. In additional , Oxford Center for Brain Research also studied the brain of depressed people. In their study , it focused more on a certain part of the brain which is “amygdala”. According to Catherine Harmer , depressed people lost perspective and part of their brain is much more sensitive to negativity. To prove this , she actually showed negative pictures to a depressed person under observation scanner through the monitor and the amygdala reacted instantly to it. The size of the adrenal glands is also an indicator of depression ; there are larger adrenal glands for depressed people because stress chemicals are much more higher. (Youtube Video file . The Truth about Depression BBC Full Documentary 2013. grahamNhaveigotnews . 2013)

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Photo taken from : Screenshot. Youtube BBC Documentary

There are a lot of reasons that contributes to the depression of teens. It can be family problems , academic problems , sexual orientation , relationship break-ups , and a lot more. The most effective factor is actually the peer pressure. Peer pressure basically revolves on the thought of being liked by the group despite the personal doubts. During the adolescence period , the teenagers are still coping up with the environmental factors that can affect their goals in life. As a normally insecure spirit within teenagers , they tend to do things they haven’t done ever just to prove that they deserve the fame and all. However, the self-esteem of the teenager may be deteriorating already without further notice as long as the teenager has been blinded by overwhelming cheers from his friends.(”Is Peer Pressure Causing Teens To Become Depressed”.Canadian Positive Psychology Network. 2014. para.3) To prove this , let us restate what Roque , my interviewee , said , “It hurts my ego when my friends judge me for simply not doing everything they do”. It can be clearly foreseen that he has a chance to depression due to peer pressure. Opening into the world of social interactions , teenagers can be easily influenced slowly but vastly. It is the time when fame is prioritized so the teenagers will do everything to gain that and also, the complexity of building a relationship takes place. Being peer pressured is actually listening to your friends’ voices instead of yours. And this , unfortunately , will lead into engaging in dangerous habits like drinking , smoking, using drugs and other negative habits. This case is mostly the brink towards the teenage depression (“Teens Plummeting Into Depression Due To Peer Pressure” as explained in 2015. para3)

Exploring-Teen-Depression-Symptoms-and-Treatment-in-More-Detail-620x360                                  Photo taken from : Parenting Hub

Peer is composed of different influential attitudes that have a great power in shaping the behavior and character of a teenager (“Teens Plummeting Into Depression Due To Peer Pressure” as explained in . para1). According to the study , there has been an increasing amount of time spent by a teenager with his friends. As cited in the entitled “Peer Influence” , Voydanoff and Donnelly (1999) stated that 10% is spent from the two year old kids and reaches 40% from the range of 7-11 years old. In additional , Updegraff (2001) stated that during high school , teens tend to spend half of their time with friends (“Peer Influence.” International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. 2003.para1) .

In a nutshell , your group of friends is the kid playing the bubblegum using his hand . On the other side , the bubblegum resembles you. Basically , you just go with the twisting of the kid’s finger simply because he always has this power to shape you. And your inner self , being elastic as the bubblegum , was left no choice but to allow the kid to shape you.

Everyone experience peer pressure in different forms. Some of them are even unnoticeable that you just got to let it go. Here’s the situation you’ve experienced but didn’t know that it was already peer pressure. You’re sitting around with your friends while watching a movie and someone apparently mentioned a movie which happened to be your favorite. You were supposed to announce that the movie was amazing but chose to stop because your friend just said how disgusting and an ew chich-flick movie it was and eventually , your friends tend to agree with him. And there , you just experienced the peer pressure.

Teenagers tend to be risky. However , research shows that teenagers still have the knowledge and the ability to think between risking or not. Psychological scientists Lauren Steinberg and Jason Chein of Temple University and Dustin Albert of Duke University argued about the unique effect of peer pressure on the teenage brain. Their report was published on Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The issue focuses more on the teenage brain. Psychologists conducted an MRI technology , studying peoples’ brains while doing stuff , on the teenagers , college students and adults. The participants got to play a six-minute video driving game under the brain scanner. Prizes were given to those who finished the game in a certain period of time. However ; there are rules to be followed. Players had to choose between stopping at yellow lights and getting delayed or racing through yellow lights which could faster the time and get a bigger prize. The higher prize did entail the higher risk of accident and would have a longer delay. They were given four rounds ; half of the time they played alone and half of the time they were told that they had two same-sex friends watching them at the next room. Eventually , there was no certain direct contact with the friends but the thought of having friends observing them made them more risky. Between the college students and adults , there were no absolute differences. However , the teenager participants have different results. Teenagers ran 40% more yellow lights and gained 60% crashing when they knew their friends were watching.The psychologists observed that the regions of the brain associated with the reward sped up its activity from the simple thought that they got their friends’ eyes. In totality , the researchers suggest that the brain’s reward system of a teenager tend to drown out any warning signals about risk and chose to tip the balance towards the reward (“The Teenage Brain & Peer Pressure”.Chris Hudson. No date)


Photo taken from: intothelens4149 as cited by Chris Hudson

Researcher Dr. Laurence Steinberg concluded “We think we’ve uncovered one very plausible explanation for why adolescents do a lot of stupid things with their friends that they wouldn’t do when they are by themselves”. He also added that , “The presence of peers activated the reward circuitry in the brain of adolescents that it didn’t do in the case of adults.” In his statement , it can be said that aside from the reward system in the brain , there’s also this social processing which may be the cause of the peers having the pronounced effect on the decision making of a teenager.The effect is too strong on the teenagers due to the changes of the teens’ brains that puberty has got into. They already appear to be more attentive and aware at what other people might think about them (“The Teenage Brain & Peer Pressure”.Chris Hudson. No date).According to B.J. Casey , guess editor of the special issue and the Director of the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College , “The articles in this special issue on the teen brain provide the latest findings from human imaging and animal studies on topics that range from self-control to peer influence to policy.”      (“Teens’ Brains Are More Sensitive To Rewarding Feedback From Peers”.Association for Psychological Science.2013.para4)

Peer pressure is a lot like a ladder down to the threatening chasm of depression. The amplifying of the teens’ desires to fit in and to impress their peers is getting too powerful. However , the relationship between the adults or the parents with the teens could also influence them to what kind of friends they’re looking for. As teens draw farther from the adults’ connection , they eventually draw even more closer to their peers. (“Peer Influence”. Brown 1999 as cited in Negative peer pressure pulls teenager to do worst of all worst things. They tend to get involved in drugs and other illegal stuffs just by the influence of friends. They tend to have gotten away from their families . They tend to be more prone to suicide. All in all , they tend to be much more associated to teenage depression. And that , my friends , is the foreseen future of negative peer pressure. Peer pressure has provided satisfactory feeling after making your friends nod at you but certainly has sharp daggers pointed to your inner self. If peer pressure is a long winding road towards the satisfaction you find in friends and on your way there , you’ve got to pass by a whole-while image of humans hurting themselves, would you still go or you’ll turn away ? Your answer defines your future as it was stated in the youtube documentary entitled “The Simple Message That Brought This Middle School Class to Tears”, “Tell me about your friends. And I’ll tell you your future.”


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