Why Physical Activity Limits Teenage Depression and Suicides 

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Physical activity (PA) is a large part of the population’s everyday lives, everybody likes to keep their bodies healthy and fit, they like to feel good about how they look and like to see changes physically from exercise, but not as many people realize the influence physical activity and working out can have on our mental health. PA affects our mental health in so many ways, in fact, working out can not only improve the symptoms of anxiety, tiredness but can even help with limiting the effects of depression.

Adult’s physical and mental health’s are usually focused on, but in this case, I wanted to bring light to the much needed and less talked about the topic of teens. Teens need PA for more than keeping their bodies healthy and strong, teens need physical activity most importantly for their minds and mental state, more specifically in how they feel regarding depression, anxiety, and tiredness.

Teens are falling victim to mental illness every day, some would say that there is no cure because every teen is different, but I am here to explain my argument on why I believe physical activity in teens can be the “cure” for anxiety, suicidal and depressive tendencies. A few main reasons we can believe that PA really does help a teens mental state is through a series of studies that have been performed and in this essay I will be talking about 3 different studies that I believe help explain my topic well, those three topics are of the following, the first of the studies I will talk about is that when a person (a teen) performs a type of exercise there’s an increase in endorphins, hormones, along with an increase of self-esteem.

The second topic I will be talking about is one that talks about the difference between males and females, generally more boys participate in PA than girls do, and it so happens that more girls are reported to have depressed moods than boys. Finally, the last reason to why I believe this is true is that for teens staying in there comfort zone and watching videos and staying inside all day/ not doing PA can cause more depressive tendencies than teens who are outside, active and step out of their comfort zones more.

Teens bodies are going through so many changes at the time of young adulthood, they have many different hormones and endorphins going through their bodies all the time and with no way to understand and help calm these hormones, with all these hormones and changes happening no wonder teens who do not participate in PA struggle with mental health issues more often, because they are not doing anything to help reduce these crazy raging hormones and increase specific hormones and endorphins that help keep our bodies in good health mentally.

Sports increase hormones and endorphins it’s a proven fact, but why is this important? Why do we need to know this information? Well it’s because for a teen mental health is very important, they are really going through the hardest stages of their lives physically and mentally, with schooling, their bodies changing and maturing and you know having the stress of choosing what job you want to do for the rest of their lives, and so we need to know this information to help explain how sports and hormones connect when we talk about our mental health.

It’s safe to stay teenagers are stressed, and so the stress hormone is very high in probably a majority of teens, but this is not to be taken lightly, stress is a dangerous chemical in our bodies, stress is one thing but what it can become and lead to is a whole different story, stress can lead to depression, anxiety, fear, panic, and suicide/suicidal thoughts and actions, exercise does indeed help increase your “feel good” hormones and cause a feeling of euphoria, it also helps regulate estrogen and in return helps burn fat faster, while decreasing this stress hormone and in turn reducing the probably of a teen becoming anxious, stressed and depressed, Some other chemicals released are serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine which all help you to feel good after a workout, to entice you to keep doing it, because the body craves PA, not only does it crave it but your body does not want to feel bad, I bet your mind would much rather be in a state of euphoria all the time rather than depressed, and so with these hormones comes the benefits of reduced stress, boosts of self-esteem and helps improve sleep.

A trial was done to confirm that PA does indeed help with depressive symptoms. 49 females ages 18-20 with depressive symptoms were assigned an exercise or an activity for 8 weeks, at the end of the 8 weeks the results showed that the depressive symptoms of the group significantly decreased and that the few females that were tested while not performing in these activities their depressive symptoms stayed the same and did not decrease at all during the 8 week period, this helps to prove my point very well, that any type of exercise no matter what it is helps the body release hormones that significantly decrease depression. Like I stated previously, exercise does not only help with depressive behaviors but also with anxiety, but a question to ask is why does PA help?

When I did some research it says that anxiety and depressive behaviors are said to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and so if we work out and have our bodies pump these “feel good” hormones and endorphins, we can probably help to balance out these chemicals in our brains in time, and maybe we can limit suicides and depressive symptoms in teens to slim to none, because of this balancing of hormones that come with PA. PA does not only help with the chemicals inside our bodies, but it also helps with how we see ourselves and our self-images, which is also a very large reason why teens struggle with mental health issues.

Teens are very hard on themselves to be “perfect” and to be the best at everything they put too much pressure on themselves, and so when they look at themselves and they don’t see that they are enough, it can be very dangerous and can very easily cause depressive and suicidal actions or thoughts. if we look in our society, confidence and strong self-esteem is found in most powerful leaders, because in order to put yourself out there you need a strong mind to ward off any negatives, but what are these teens and powerful leaders doing differently? Why are teens having such a hard time with self-image while these powerful people who are being bashed every day are seemingly fine?

Well it’s because of hormones once again, powerful leaders often have high self-esteem and self-confidence, and with that increased self-confidence is the increased level of testosterone in their bodies and a decreased level of cortisol the stress hormone, with exercise our bodies naturally increase the production of testosterone in both female and male bodies, and also lower the stress hormones, teens are having such a hard time because once again their hormones are all over the place. In teenage males we can see a lot of self-confidence because of their such high levels of testosterone at this age, but in girls because they do not naturally produce as much testosterone they sometimes have more trouble with sleep confidence and self-esteem, but exercise doesn’t hurt and if anything it might help some girls and guys with lower testosterone to feel a little better about themselves through chemicals in their own brains.

All teens need to do is exercise and they can come closer to a stronger self-image for more reasons than one, for one reason it’s because of the hormones but it’s also because they get to shape and create friendships and social interactions with other which helps to boost confidence. It’s interesting to think that all we have to do is work out and we can suddenly feel a little better, but for girls who struggle with their self-image and how society thinks they should look, the hardest step to take is the first one, the beginning of exercise, they feel so scared to be with that they didn’t want anything to do with working out, but that one small step can be the help that is needed by a lot of teenage girls and could also save a lot of young girls lives.

Something else that comes from exercise is the ability to get yourself out there and socialize to create relationships. When a teenager begins in a sport they don’t realize just how much teamwork is in it, they need to create relationships with their fellow players and coaches in order to play their best as an individual and as a team, with teens participating in sports and with social interactions we see a lot of teens who participate in PA becoming more outgoing and confident in themselves. A lot of teens are scared to talk to other people and step out of their comfort zones and so they tend to stay in their safe spaces alone and end up developing depressive symptoms because of the lack of interaction (we are social begins Afterall.)

Teens that socialize are less likely to develop these symptoms than the safe space teens because they grow not only as a person and in their own confidence in having to speak up and rely on themselves, but they grow in confidence of others around them. A study by conversation skills core says that being social does help with your overall happiness in a lot of cases, especially when you have a meaningful talk with somebody you know or are friends with, its actually helps decrease feelings of loneliness and helps you become a more confident person, just by having a small conversation with one person.

In our society, males are idolized for being stronger, faster, and better than girls at athletics. Men and boys are seen as the more athletic, and more physically fit and more confident individuals as well as the less criticized and less pressured to be “perfect”, while girls, on the other hand, seem to have it harder as they are criticized for what they look like, who they are as a person and what they do with themselves and their lives, they are seen as less athletic because they are not as “strong” as men, and so in our day and age and in the past we have seen the same things, that not as many girls are participating in PA rather its mostly boys.

Teenage girls do not participate in PA as much as boys do. according to the study from Jenifer Brosnagan, Boys participate in PA more often, and in this study, I just mentioned they analyzed boys and girls for any depressive symptoms and more girls said they were depressed, considering more girls were not in sport it kind of makes sense. for many reasons girls do not participate in PA, it could be because of the previously stated stereotypes and lack of support for women in sports or it could be because of their lack of self-confidence.

To expand upon my first example of stereotypes I want to talk about the lack of representation that could lead to depression for very athletic girls who love sports. Girls and women are looked down upon in sports, people rather watch men play in professional sports than women for some reason and so not many girls see other adult women playing and in turn don’t see themselves playing or even think that it is a possibility because of this. girl’s mental health’s could be altered with this one simple act, giving women in sports more visibility. a teenage girl who loves sports may see a women playing a sport professionally and may be inspired and so that teenage girl begins to play a sport so that she one day can be just like her, if girls don’t have idols that they can look up to in sport, they may never try it and so this could lead to more girls sitting out and developing depression because of the lack of options in their futures or because of the lack of PA, as they may give up on their dream altogether.

Boys are more inclined to participate in PA and so have less of a chance on becoming depressed, because since a young age they are encouraged to be sporty, active and a jock, this behavior is toxic because it forces young men to be more inclined into sports even if they really don’t want to be and so it hurts girls because they feel they will never be as good as their male peers and so why do they even bother trying, but in a way it can also be seen as good, at least for boys it is as it forces young men to participate in PA, and because of this we see a lack of depression compared to girls at the same age. Not only does this show that PA causes teenagers to be less depressed but a study also shows that PA can also help teenage to adult women who suffer from PMS (Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of symptoms that many women get about a week or two before their period.) the study by Zeinab Samad was performed and it is a study to see how 8 weeks of exercise affected PMS in non-athlete girls.

The study was conducted on 40 nonathletic girls ages 18-25 with all having a diagnosis of PMS. The study included personal information and a medical questionnaire, a form of premenstrual symptoms and a Depression and Anxiety questionnaire, daily symptoms were also recorded daily for 4 months, the girls in the group practiced exercise for 8 weeks, 3 sessions per week for 60 minutes each, the girls were tested during their menstrual cycles. The Results showed that the PMS symptoms declined after just 8 weeks of training and so in conclusion of the study it shows that exercise is an effective way to reduce the symptoms of PMS and that it can be used as a treatment, but what does this have to do with teenage girls mental Health? and how PA effects their chances of becoming depressed and suicidal? well it actually shows a lot because PMS in women can cause an array of symptoms including depression and anxiety, and so if this study has shown a decrease of theses possible depressed symptoms from PMS than many more teenage girls who are still new to the thought of a menstrual cycle, PMS and its symptoms can have a treatment option that can help stop them from feeling hopeless and alone during these times and hopefully also simply the amount of depression that comes from PMS.

Blue light, it comes from the sun, our phones, laptops, tv’s, lightbulbs and many more, it may seem like a good thing, but in reality, blue light is not always good. Although it does come from the sun and it does help in a few ways like for example the sun in the daytimes has blue light and we can find ourselves feeling a boost of energy and even a better mood because of it, but because we have artificially created this blue light in the form of our electronics starting to cause some significant problems for people, especially the people who use it most often, and in this case its teens.

Blue light, if your exposed to it for too long can cause sleep problems and in turn sleep problems are a large factor that leads to depression and anxiety problems, blue light is hurting teens because this generation is all about the technology, they are growing up with the blue light and are even using it at schools, and so it’s causing this generation of teens to sleep less and not as well and with this its causing teens to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. If the question at this moment being asked is what does this have to do with exercise? Then let me explain that if we are spending so much time on our electronics with this blue light than we are most likely not participating in PA, and so it explains why they are linked.

What I said before with the ‘extroverted’ statement, that people who are more social tend to be happier as it says that people who watch more tv/ don’t get out as much into the world and they tend to be lonely and sadder than most, in Turn, this could also be caused by the blue light causing bad sleeping habits and a more depressed mood the next day. Blue light affects melanopsin which turns light into electrical signals, it responds strongly to this blue light, and so it helps me prove that it does cause depression in teens because if we see too much blue light it’s an overload of electrical signals and if we are tired or depressed this can lead to more severe problems such as suicide it’s as if your brain never really gets a break, and with teens going through so much already this blue light it just the cherry on the sundae. Another reason to prove that PA really does limit depression and or suicide in teens is through nature.

PA a lot of time is encouraged through nature and the outdoors, in fact when you think of going for a run, you most likely think about a trail in the woods or on a road most often and not a treadmill, PA is encouraged outdoors as kids and teens because it helps connect us to nature more, and this is a good thing to be doing. Nature limits stress and depression and everything in between, the outdoors decreases cancer risks, improves blood pressure, and boosts mental health, and lowers cortisol, just 5 minutes outdoors can reduce stress. PA is thought of as an outdoor thing in many cases and now we know that it’s so beneficial to think that way, in other words, let’s get our teens off the computer and out in nature again.

As I begin to reflect on this topic again I realize that not only is mental health looked over in general but in teenagers especially, because it’s seen as a cry for attention most of the time, only now are we starting to see mental illness for what it truly is and that is a real illness. Teens need to have a good mental image of themselves and of the world in order to shine, and we can do that so easily by exercising and being active, it is such a universal method to feeling better yet nobody seems to want to do it or even want to learn about its methods and how it works. But from everything I have explained from blue light to self-esteem to stereotypes and everything in between I hope that you too can believe me when I say that physical activity does indeed help limit the number of depressive symptoms and suicides in teens.

Cite this paper

Why Physical Activity Limits Teenage Depression and Suicides . (2021, Feb 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/why-physical-activity-limits-teenage-depression-and-suicides/

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