April 7, 2017. World Health Day. This year the World Health Organization (WHO) is leading a campaign to raise awareness about depression (Depression: Let’s talk), currently the number one cause of disability. Let’s talk about that.
According to a recently updated fact sheet by WHO, over 300 million people are affected by depression worldwide. The numbers are only increasing. With high-stress jobs and increasing social pressure to perform, anxiety and depression affect people of all ages, from all walks of lives, in all countries. So if you are one among the 300 million, know this…
You are not alone.
Depression is common. It is a medical condition affecting the brain, much like a tumor or Parkinson’s disease. There is nothing wrong with you.
Similar to tumors or any other illness, depression can be treated. It is one of the best documented but least discussed health problems. The stats provide staggering numbers behind the number of suicides due to depression. However, if we take a closer look, a number of these could have been prevented if the signs were detected early on in a person’s life. A majority of the population experiencing mental health do not receive any form of care.
One of the key problems in our society is the huge stigma around talking about depression and mental health. Having been raised to believe that feeling vulnerable is a weakness and shows personal inadequacy, it is hard for most people to discuss their emotions. The stigmatization of depression does nothing to help those grappling with depression — in fact, treating depression as a personal problem rather than an illness can deter depressed people from seeking professional help and cause them to feel guilty instead.
We need to break the stigma around depression.
Research has evidenced the benefits of voicing thoughts and feelings as a step towards recovery. Psychotherapy, commonly referred to as talk therapy, is designed to relieve despondence of patients by providing a mental toolkit that challenges negative thoughts. This kind of therapy helps us learn about ourselves in such a deep and broad way that we can utilize our understanding in a variety of situations.
For those of you trying to help a dear one, take a minute to look at this article. It is important to educate yourself about the dont’s during a conversation. It is crucial not to dismiss or belittle someone’s condition while trying to help them. Sometimes it is okay to just listen.
For those of you battling (Yes, that’s the word I chose to use… cuz you’re more brave than most!) depression, I understand that during a time when the word ‘Depression’ is used loosely, it is hard to gauge if people fully understand what you are undergoing. It may feel impossible to explain the helpless feelings you have inside to others, or to even gather the strength to confide in someone. But making the choice of talking to someone you trust could help you understand you are not in this alone. You don’t have to fight this fight alone.
There are many paths to recovery and each person’s may be different. Whether you attend self-help groups, speak to a clinician, seek medication, or simply speak to loved ones, it’s important to share your feelings. Explaining your condition and symptoms will help those around you, including yourself, understand what it is you’re going through.
I am not a therapist. I will probably not have the best solutions to your problems. But if you need someone to listen to you, know that I can be that person. An ally in this crazy, beautiful world… Where you belong.