Freud began his well-known exploration of depression and its link to aggression in “Mourning and Melancholia”. He theorised that in response to the experience of a loss, the individual internalises the lost object as a way of holding on to it.
Depression is used to refer to a melancholic state of mind of an individual. It is more than just a feeling of being “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. Depression is actually a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness and loss of joy. It is different from the mood fluctuations that people regularly experience as a part of life. Depression is an ongoing problem, consisting of episodes during which the symptoms last for at least 2 weeks. It can last for several weeks, months or years. It can affect a person of any age.
According to a report of WHO, depression is estimated to affect 350 million people and thus this disease is an important global public health issue. Depression stems from a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. The United States is one of the most depressed countries in the world according to the World Health Organization. An estimated 1 in 6 people, or nearly 17 percent of Americans, will experience depression at some point in their life time, according to the American Psychiatric Association. In India, the National Mental Health survey 2015-16 revealed that nearly 15% of Indian adults need active intervention for one or more mental health issues and one in 20 Indians suffers from depression. It is estimated that in 2012, India had over 2,58,000 suicides, with the age group of 15-49 years being most affected. As per WHO , people who have gone through adverse life events like unemployment, bereavement, psychological trauma are more likely to develop depression. Depression is a prevalent mental ailment that presents itself with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or reduced self worth, disturbed sleep or appetite and poor concentration. In adition, depression often comes with symptoms of anxiety. These problems can become chronic or recurrent as the sufferer loses the capacity to take care of his or her everyday tasks and responsibilities. At its worst, poor self-care resulting from depression can lead to suicide. Almost 1 million lives are lost yearly due to suicide, which translates to 3,000 suicide deaths every day.
Depressive disorders often start at a young age: they reduce people’s functioning and often are recurring. For these reasons this disorder is the leading cause of disability worldwide in terms of total years lost due to disability. The demand for cures or therapy for depression and other mental health conditions is on rise worldwide. The onset of depression is influenced by a complex set of biological, psychological, social and environmental conditions that result in serious impairment and a lack of adaptive functioning. There must be a desire to understand how the development of such disorders interacts with the developmental challenges, mainly of adolescents. There are various symptoms of depression that vary from person to person, but the common ones are:
Sadness, hopelessness, loss of pleasure in activities, irritability, tiredness, appetite changes, thoughts of death and suicide. Having just one of the symptoms does not mean a person has depression. People who have multiple symptoms and are concerned about depression should contact a doctor/ psychologist/ therapist and must use medications/ therapies or both to manage the symptoms. Besides therapies and medication, other measures can help a person to manage the symptoms, which include excercising, spending time with supportive friends and loved ones, avoiding drugs, trying stress managing techniques, breaking significant tasks down into smaller ones, etc.
Postscript: Depression is just a common thing in modern life. To avoid it we should study our scriptures or religious texts which can give us peace and solace. Also, Listen to your heart and not your ego. Your ego prompts you to boast of vain assertions. Turn away from vanity and seek Him in the recesses of your heart and soul. Otherwise, you will fall into the deep pit of depression
Both writers are PhD scholars. [email protected]