Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
April 7 is observed as a World Health Day every year. Each year the day is dedicated to a particular disease. This time the theme is Depression: Lets Talk. Yes, the word which we all often use, but I am sure, without actually knowing the real meaning if it.
Let me give a few examples: You made your school/college/office project meticulously but unfortunately your teacher/boss pointed out mistakes in it or may be rejected it. And you say you are depressed. NO you aren’t depressed. You are just upset.
Your lunch meeting with your beloved gets cancelled due to some reason. And you point out that you are depressed. Please DON’T. You are hurt, not depressed.
Understand, there is a huge difference between being upset/hurt/feeling sad/ignored and being DEPRESSED.
It is this callous way in which we talk about depression that takes the seriousness of the issue away from of it, as a result of which those who are actually affected by this mental disorder either go unrecognized or are trivialised.
As depression goes unnoticed and ignored by the kith and kin of a depression patient, the number of those suffering from it is steadily rising.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is ringing alarm bells. It says that depression is the biggest cause of ill-health and disability the world over. In South-East Asia region, an alarming 86 million people are affected by depression, says WHO. What’s more, India has the highest suicide rate among the 10 South-East Asian countries, with depression being a leading cause for this. According to some other reports, one in four, yes ONE in FOUR among our (Indian) youth is a patient of depression.
So let’s talk about depression today.
Let us find some facts and busts some myths associated with depression.
Myth: Depression isn’t a real disease
FACT: It is one of the most debilitating diseases. It is an illness with real symptoms.
Myth: Depressed people are plain lazy.
FACT: Depressed people are not lazy but they cannot just snap out of their inactive state. They need therapy from a qualified psychiatrist to get well just like a patient of any other physiological disease.
MYTH: Only women get depression, men don’t.
FACT: Depression is not biased towards a particular gender. Anyone can have it, even transgenders, gays and lesbians. Symptoms may differ, though.
MYTH: Children and adolescents don’t get depressed.
FACT: It can affect any age, any time. Just like it is neutral to gender, it is also neutral to age. Though most past cases have been with adults, pre-teens and teens are increasingly getting affected by it these day.
MYTH: Depression is caused by trauma.
FACT: Trauma may trigger depression, but depression can come on its own, without any external factor, as well.
MYTH: Depression will go away with time on its own, you don’t need specific treatment for it.
FACT: You do need a metal health expert to cure you out of depression. In some cases, just counseling and changes in lifestyle will do the trick, but in others a patient needs medicines.
MYTH: Once you start consuming antidepressants, you will have to take them for life.
FACT: There is no truth in this. Anti-depressants are NOT addictive. You will have to take them for as long as your doctor tells you too.
MYTH: All depression patients have same symptoms.
FACT: Symptoms vary. Different people show different symptoms.
MYTH: Depression patients are violent.
FACT: There is no veracity in this statement. In fact, most often it is the opposite. People who have experienced some form of extreme physical/sexual abuse become depression patients.
MYTH: Those who commit suicide do it out of depression.
FACT: A depression patient may commit suicide but not all suicides are caused by depression.