SOCIETY TALK

Depression a fight that cannot be fought alone

Suicide is the second-highest cause of death among 15-29 year-olds

In Summary

• The most important part of dealing with depression is allowing yourself to seek help

Mental health
Mental health
Image: STAR ILLUSTRATED

A few weeks ago, I found myself in a forlorn routine. I could not sleep well at night, I woke up very late the next day, I did not do much in terms of chores and I hardly ate.

Although I live with family, I hardly ever saw any of them. I would deliberately keep from seeing them because anything minor would irritate me. My world was my bed and TV screen. The virtual world became an escape from my reality.

Luckily, I shared my mental state with a confidant, who also happens to have counselling experience. His response was the harsh awakening I needed. “It sounds like you might be experiencing mild depression.”

I never thought I would end up classified as depressed. Sure, we all have our ‘down days’, where we feel defeated or lost. However, to be actually identified as depressed makes it more real and severe than we want to believe.

Depression is a mood disorder that indicates feelings of persistent sadness and loss of interest. It is more severe from the mood fluctuations we experience as part of life. Like me, most people can be depressed without knowing it because they confuse it with mood swings. Especially in cases of mild depression.

What makes depression different from mood swings is the repeated depressive episodes. Common symptoms experienced during depressive episodes include: lack of interest, glum moods and low energy, resulting in limited activity for at least two weeks.

People with depression may also suffer from symptoms related to anxiety. These  include troubled sleep, lack of appetite, feelings of low self-worth and other symptoms that cannot be explained by medical diagnosis.

Depression often results from various social, psychological and biological factors. According to the World Health Organisation, depression is one of the most common illness in the world, affecting more than 264 million people worldwide.

Just like any disease, the severity of depression can be mild, moderate or severe. In its most severe form, depression can lead to suicide. A report by WHO shows that suicide is the second-highest cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.

The counsellor also shared that this issue has become much more prevalent during the coronavirus lockdown. Numerous people confided that they had mild depression symptoms.

The coronavirus did not only unleash a deadly pandemic to the world but with it came severe socioeconomic devastation that left millions of people unemployed or without a steady income worldwide. The psychological trauma of losing one’s income can lead to depression. The forced lockdowns also contributed to the mental distress among people.

Depression can cripple its victims so much so that it is considered a disability. Nevertheless, the disease can be overcome, especially during the initial stages. Several coping mechanisms aid one to overcome depression.

Some of these include: staying connected, doing things that used to give you joy before, as well as exercising, which helps release endorphins that boost moods.

However, the most important part of starting the journey to deal with depression is allowing yourself to seek help. This disease cannot be overcome without help and support from the people who care for you the most.