It’s human nature to feel sad or down from time to time. We tend to feel down when we end a relationship or move away from home. The feeling of sadness can sometimes be described as depression, but it usually passes within a few hours or days. Depressive disorders, however, often go beyond feeling sad or down for a day or two. When a person feels depressed for an extended period of time and stops enjoying activities, he/she normally enjoys, depression is regarded as an illness. This leads to other symptoms, such as feeling worthless, in addition to sadness. It may be difficult for the person to concentrate in school or to perform well at work, and he or she may have trouble interacting with family and friends.
Tackling the stigma of Depression
Many people do not receive the support they need because of the stigma surrounding depression. The majority of people who are depressed realize they need help, but they are afraid or hesitant to reach out for support.
Some myths and facts of Depression
|A depression is a sign that one has failed or failed themselves.||Depression is more common than people realize. One in six people – one in five women and one in eight men – experience depression at some point in their lives, says WHO. Depression can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, wealth, or income.|
|Depression is simply laziness||People who are depressed usually lack energy and motivation, and may withdraw from family and friends. Depression can sometimes be misinterpreted as laziness because of these common signs and symptoms.|
|For someone to become depressed, something terrible must have happened.||There is no single cause of depression. It often occurs due to an accumulation of stressful situations (e.g., pressure at school or work, relationship problems, low self-esteem) rather than anyone incident or event. A person might also experience it quite unexpectedly when they are generally feeling quite well.|
|Depression is something you can just ‘come out of’.||The majority of people with depression will recover, but it often takes time and support. Professional help is especially important for people who suffer from moderate to severe depression.|
Depression in young people
Mental health problems are the major health issues that young Indian’s face. Adolescence and early adulthood are often times of significant change – The development of a strong sense of identity, becoming more independent of parents, and taking on greater responsibilities over the transition from school to work or higher education, are some examples. Many young people suffer from emotional problems as a result of the challenges they face. Most people have their first experience of depression during adolescence or young adulthood. Based on the National Mental Health Survey 2016, close to 14% of India’s population needed active mental interventions. There are about 2,00,000 suicides in India every year. The statistics would be even higher if one includes the number of attempts to suicide.
An analysis based on gender revealed that the rates of depression each year tend to be higher among young females compared to young males. It is also common for depression in young people to be accompanied by anxiety, substance abuse, or problems with drugs or alcohol.
The number of young people suffering from depression is growing, but few get treatment. UNICEF report throws light on the mental health impact in children and young people. In India, only 41% of young people seek mental health care, compared to an average of 83% in 21 other countries. I think this is extremely concerning since depression can have disabling effects, especially if left untreated. The struggles a person has with school, work, or relationships can last longer and prevent him or her from achieving the full potential they deserve in their career or relationships. Depressive disorders are also the most common risk factor for suicide.
What causes Depression?
Often, people think depression is caused by something that has gone wrong, such as a failed test, a bad breakup, loss of a family member, or falling out with friends. There isn’t one specific cause for depression, but many factors have been linked to its development. Depression generally results from a combination of events and longer-term or individual factors, not from a single event.
Factors such as family conflict, the loss of someone close to you, and traumatic experiences may lead to depression in young people. Other negative things like bullying and abuse, feeling bad about yourself or the world, being alone, and discrimination are also factors that can lead to depression. Research suggests that continuing difficulties are more likely to cause depression than recent life stresses. Recent events or a combination of events can nevertheless ‘trigger’ depression for individuals who have already been afflicted by depression in the past.
9 Major symptoms of Depression
- Frequently feeling unhappy, moody, or irritable
- An empty or numb feeling
- The loss of pleasure and interest in activities that once made you happy
- Changes in appetite, eating habits, or weight (e.g., gaining weight from comfort foods and overeating, or losing weight from having a poor appetite).
- Changes in sleeping habits (e.g., inability to sleep, or sometimes staying in bed most of the day)
- Tiredness, lack of energy and motivation (e.g., finding it hard to ‘get going’) difficulty concentrating and/or making decisions
- Being self-critical, feeling worthless, or feeling guilty about oneself
- Negative or ‘down on yourself’ thoughts
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
When young people are suffering from depression, it is important to get help as early as possible. If depression is left untreated, young people are at risk of struggling in their studies or work, having difficulties in their relationships with family or friends, abusing alcohol, taking drugs or self-harming. People who experience severe depression may feel hopeless and begin to think about harming themselves or ending their lives.