Depression as an illness has a long history and is not a recent affliction. But its size and scope are novel. Clinical depression has reached the level of a psychological epidemic. Cancer, high blood pressure, and even HIV/AIDS are all topics of conversation, but only a small minority of people who are depressed dare to discuss it; most choose to suffer in silence. People of all ages and from all corners of the world have been caught in the growing rope of depression. Indeed, there is a serious mental epidemic at hand. The World Health Organization estimates that 280 million individuals, or 3.8% of the population, experience depression worldwide.
I recently met a former classmate who seemed down in the dumps. When I questioned, I was astonished to learn that he had been taking antidepressants for more than two years. He responded that he did not want to be called a “psycho” when asked why he had been suffering in silence and receiving no psychiatric assistance. This acquaintance of mine is not the only one who has experienced stigmatisation; almost everyone in our community has dealt with it to some degree at some point in their lives. Even if we are the victims, we are least likely to talk about and receive efforts to remedy it.
The myopic social psychology has failed to recognise this disease as a challenge to be reckoned with, despite medical science’s identification of the disease’s foundations in neurobiology and neurotransmitter imbalance. If it isn’t acknowledged as such, the sufferers will still experience the pain of depression.
Typical frustrations and transient mood swings are not the same as depression. Before it gets worse, a serious level of depression needs time to manifest. People suffer in their ability to think, judge, work, and interact with others. In extreme circumstances, suicides result from this. Around 700,000 individuals die by suicide each year, and depression is one of the main contributing factors.
One of the most common symptoms of depression is difficulty concentrating and remembering events, which can lead to diminished judgment and decision-making abilities, irritability, hopelessness, anger, guilt, and a sense of worthlessness. Other symptoms include alienation, joblessness, insomnia or oversleeping, severe headaches, digestive issues, and suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
A visceral description is quoted by the UK campaign group Mind: “It starts as sadness, then I feel myself shutting down, becoming less capable of coping. Eventually, I just feel numb and empty.”
The frequency and prevalence of depression are on the rise, and many factors contribute to this, including unfavourable life events and episodes, genetic susceptibility, financial hardship, poverty, chronic illness, bereavement, drug addiction, and loss of loved ones.
Less than half of those who suffer from depression receive treatment, according to the WHO. Countries all over the world must give this mental health issue top priority and implement workable remedial therapy due to its pandemic proportion. The institutionalisation of behavioural therapies as an effective response to depression is necessary in addition to pharmaceutical treatment techniques. The cycle of negative thinking can be broken with the aid of cognitive behavioural therapy. Psychoanalytic therapy, interpersonal therapy, exercise, and art therapy are additional therapeutic methods with potential results.
A comprehensive and consistent mental health policy is therefore urgently needed. Recognising the scope of the problem and eradicating the associated social stigma are the first and most important steps. Establishing community centers, implementing national curricula, and running public awareness efforts through traditional and social media would all help to identify and treat the disease.
When mental illness becomes visibly apparent, it is likely in extremely terrible shape. What we should learn as a society? Pay attention to what people are saying and listen to them. They may be telling you something their face can’t express.
Finally, I would want to politely request that everyone who reads this take a moment to try and empathise. Try to have compassion for others because we are all struggling and trying. Do not forget that every life is valuable and should be saved.