Depression, the word was hazily used in everyday life for a long time and the seriousness was limited to the attention received by a person who is quiet and withdrawn from the pleasures life offered. But then, the intensity of this illness started coming to the limelight and more people are coming forward with their stories. Depression is a very common illness. It is reported that 5 crore people in India suffer from depression and a majority of them are women. 1 out of every 5 Indians have depression or had depression. A lot of people commit suicide and fall into a deeper abyss of emptiness and remorse. Due to the stigmas and taboos surrounding the same, people with depression are reluctant to come forward and talk about the same. Depression kills a lot of people as many succumb to his emptiness which consumes the brain. The intensity of the taboos makes me question; if a person falls down, he or she will get proper treatment for the injuries but why the same attention and compassion is not given for a person with mental illness? Should mental illness be limited to the violent patients who are shackled and left grounded?
As people, it is our moral responsibility to do everything and anything we can to make the future better for the upcoming generation. Value education should include the necessity to talk about the illness. Here are the ten things we could do to help those who suffer from depression.
I mean literally boycott it.
The only way in which we can stop the stigma surrounding is by stop being part of it. Do not encourage any discussion or comments that deem a depressed individual or those suffering lowly. Stop using the word “depressed” in comical context or encourage films that propagate the stigma.
2. Encourage Them To Talk And To Take Meds
Depression should be seen as lightly as a situation where the brain acquires “fever” but should be given ample amount of care and attention. Do not discourage a person from speaking out. A friend of mine was suffering from clinical depression but she refused to take treatment and see a psychiatrist due to the stigma. She was engaged to be married and feared the loss of the relationship. She didn’t inform her own parents for a long time and took anti-depressants after consulting a psychiatrist from another district, where she had no relatives or friends (no chance for the news to become viral). I felt bad for her because she had to tackle both the “townfolks” and the disease at once. If people were open and compassionate then she wouldn’t worry about the former.
3. Communicate Better With Those Having Suicidal Thoughts
Do not say things like “think about your family”, “think about who you love”. It will only increase their guilt. Patients with suicidal thoughts will be needing the kind of support that will help them out of the quicksand of darkness. Reminding them of their commitment to their families will only increase their guilt. One of the major symptoms of depression is the loss of self-esteem. Regaining that along with self-confidence includes reminding the patients the value of her own existence apart from his or her role of living for the others. Don’t increase their guilt or lose your temper with them. Help them get a good counselor and medication.
4. Raise Sons And Daughters Accordingly
One sentence boys hear a lot is “boys don’t cry” while girls are told, girls don’t laugh out loud”. Both these are problematic as human emotions are part of everyday life and expressing emotions has its own merits. Natural anti-depressant “endorphin” is released when a person laughs out loud or cries. Discouraging people, especially young girls from laughing out loud is the cruelest thing one could do. A friend of mine, who has minor depressive episodes told me that since childhood she is taught a lot of things conservative parents would teach young girls, notably “don’t laugh out loud. It is disrespectful”. Out of the depressed population, women are the majority as women faced cultural oppression and receive less emotional support, especially in rural areas. Women are taught to a nurturing and a sacrifice figure, this is not in terms of career but she is expected to function when she is not well.
Men, on the other hand, faces pressures in terms of finances and expectations. To be able to cry and having emotions is denoted as “feminine” features and as per socially constructed gender roles, boys are expected to be tough. If men are crying then it means that “crying” as a masculine attribute as well. To make it transparent, crying, laughing etc are human emotions and assigning them to respective genders is a problematic facet of this patriarchal society. According to a psychiatrist, I spoke to, men are silent sufferers of depression. They don’t cry out loud or state how they feel, in fact when asked, men will react and shove the question away in an irritated manner. Due to this, men are more likely to die because of depression when compared as symptoms are more visible in women.
So, the little thing you could do is share a laugh, encourage the necessity of happiness and to tell people that it is ok to “let it go”.
5. Entertain Them With Little Things Of Happiness
Give them gifts. If they like something then bring that to their attention. Little things can create happiness. Music, art, books, food, exercise etc will help immensely. Deepika Padukone mentioned once in her FB post that playing badminton helped her tackle depression. Actor/musician Tyrese Gibson was going through a tough period after actor Paul Walker’s death and singing helped him overcome his sadness. Some people simply go out and spend time enjoying the nature and the breeze. Focus on these little things and pull them out of the abyss. Simple gestures like serving them their favorite food, drink, offering chocolates, holding hands or gift them something will make a great difference.
6. Don’t make comparisons
All are different from each other. Therefore, patients will take their time to recover properly. One of the most annoying attributes done by peers is comparing their respective friend or relative with other patients. Don’t do that as it contributes to the patient’s guilt conscience.
7. Avoid lecturing
This is the last thing patient needs. “Why can’t you do this?”, “why can’t you be like this?”, “how come you are not dealing with it?”. An empty mind will take its time to cope with the cacophony advises that comes their way. At the end of the day, they need to be treated well and normally.
8. Do Ample Amount Of Research
This is an essential role that is to be done by relatives and peers. There are many ways in which a person becomes a victim of this disease. The amount of money and assets will not earn the person happiness. Genetic, biochemical factors that lead to depression should be understood and the knowledge will be useful in terms of tackling the same.
9. Don’t Call Them Out For Being Negative
At the same time, don’t counter them either. Listen to them and understand how they feel. Then, put forward the solution in the easiest way possible. Like a cup of coffee or a walk. If they are willing then visit the doctor.
10. Be Patient and Don’t Give Up
The treatment will take its time as parents, spouses, and children, be there in the best way you can. Overcoming depression involves a lot of internal work and patients are able to find inspiration or will power through a specific facet.