“Your life is great, what do you have to be so sad about? Why don’t you go out and get some fresh air? You’ll feel better then.” And they all mean well, but the depression plagues on.
World Health Day celebrated every year on April 7th is an international day dedicated to celebrating healthcare and awareness. The World Health Organisation has decided that this year, World Health Day will be themed around depression.
So ‘Let’s talk’ about depression!
The reason that this World Health Day 2017 campaign is titled ‘Depression: Let’s talk’, is because we don’t talk about it enough. Reasons can be attributed to the stigma around mental disorders. One viable way to combat the stigmatism is by getting a deeper understanding of what depression is, how it affects a sufferer, and the steps one should take to treat it, or even bring it under control. Hopefully, awareness will reduce the tainted impression that people have of the sufferers, and it will foster an ambience where they feel comfortable in talking about it, and consequently address it in a healthy way.
We’ve established that depression is not an uncommon disorder, whether it is clinical depression or double depression. So now let’s talk about what depression feels like. It is much deeper than the feeling of extreme sadness that people portray it to be. People who’ve been through it have explained that it makes you feel isolated, sad, and unworthy in your own skin. It is a constant mental battle against hopelessness, self-loathing, guilt, and anxiety. These feelings can be triggered by incidents that most people would otherwise consider trivial. For instance, a friend who is innocently teasing you for “being no fun”, without the slightest clue of the effort it has taken you to get out of bed this morning.
The people around you deeply affect how you feel about your condition. On one hand you’ll have people saying that they’re here for you and that you’ll come out of it eventually (even if they mean well), and on the other hand you’ll have someone telling you to quit this “cry for attention”. In both cases, the consequence is suppression of depression. This can lead to a host of other problems, both mentally and physically. Depression increases a person’s risk of substance use disorder, as well as hikes up the risk of diabetes and heart disease. And the worst of all is the ultimate consequence – suicide, which is the 2nd leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds.
What the ‘Depression: Let’s talk’ campaign really aims to affect, is the number of sufferers who not only acknowledge their mental illness, but also seek help to overcome it. Depression is one of the leading illnesses where mental health is concerned. But the real problem arises when people actually suffering the mental disorder are unable to access the treatment that will help them lead a healthy life, one day at a time.
“When you try to keep things hidden, they fester and ultimately end up revealing themselves in a far more destructive way than if you approach them with honesty,” says Hollywood actress Kristen Bell, in her essay about struggling with depression.
Visiting a professional therapist has rescued many from this mental prison. Depending on the degree of depression, some sufferers might be prescribed medication to overcome it. While medication is not a permanent fix, it is surely a step in the right direction, providing the sufferer a possibility of living without the feeling of worthlessness.
As for the scenario of mental health in India, the parliament passing the Mental Health Care Bill that was proposed by the Union Health Minister JP Nadda, is a progressive step in acknowledging and beating the stigma around the subject. As per the directives of this bill, every person will have access to mental health care services that are funded by the Government. Additionally, the bill decriminalizes suicide attempts, making it non-punishable. One hopes that the aim is to actually address the problem in the correct way, rather than shame sufferers for having a health problem.
If you want to join in on this endeavour by the WHO, the first step begins with people around you. There might be someone you know who is fighting a battle in their head everyday. You can help them get help. If it is the fear of speaking out about it, tell them that they don’t need to feel like this anymore, that there is a way around it.
If it is about the financial constraints of getting professional treatment, help them raise funds by starting a crowdfunding campaign and mobilising people to help your loved one get treated. In addition, being aware is the key to solving any problem.
You can even start a fundraiser to host an event that spreads awareness about mental disorders like depression and anxiety, and guide people in the right direction for treatment.
At Impact Guru, we want to lend a hand to those who need help, and we encourage all of you to do so as well.