As per the latest estimates of World health organisation, there has been a staggering increase in the number of people living with depression all over the world. It is estimated that more than 300 million people are suffering from this mental illness out of which almost 58 million people are Indians. Depression has also become the 10th biggest cause for premature deaths in India (the global burden of disease report). It does not curtail to only one specific group but is affecting almost all demographic groups which surely is a cause of concern. This mental illness is spreading like an endemic and may have a devastating effect in the near future.
Last year on 10th October, WHO launched a yearlong campaign, the theme of which was ” Depression: Let’s talk” so that the patients can “seek and get help”. The world health day celebrated on 7th April this year was also dedicated to fighting depression. Many campaigns, awareness programmes and sessions are conducted on a regular basis all over the world including India. With the latest estimates in picture, more debates and discussions have been going round the clock as to how we can recognise the symptoms of depression. But, the question that remains a cause of concern is that are we really listening to people suffering from depression? Every day we get to meet or see people who show the symptoms of depression but do we really care and ask them about their well being? Are we, as friends, family, society and as citizens really putting our foot forward to help such patients or are we turning a blind eye to this situation?
Exam or career-related stress, personal conflicts, parental pressure, financial crisis, health related problems, Substance abuse, genetics and death of loved ones are the most prominent causes of depression but one thing which makes it worse for the person suffering from depression is when they do not get the emotional support they constantly need.
Fighting depression is a constant battle and it gets enervating every day and that’s why such people need someone to pull them out from this phase. Our hectic life schedules are taking a toll on us and on the people around us. We directly or indirectly are ignoring those who are in dire need of help. We are busy in a meeting and someone close keeps calling us, we disconnect the call, send a message “I’ll call you right back” and then we never do. Have we ever thought that maybe, that person needs to talk about something important? What we really need to understand is that Depression is not a choice, it just happens and can happen to anyone. The reason for depression might be flawed but Judging or comparing their situation with ours can make them lose faith and they might start feeling lonely. Instead of being compassionate towards someone fighting depression we end up making fun of their situation or we do not take their symptoms seriously. We need to be solicitous about their welfare and no matter how hard our own circumstances are, on a humanitarian ground, we need to constantly encourage and reassure people suffering from this disease. Often, such patients say things which they never mean to. Remaining conscience-stricken for a long time may cause mood swings which might further deteriorate their condition and That’s where we need to keep our nerves calm and try to empathise with them. What we always forget is that they need to be “heard”. It’s OK to let them speak only, as this may help them vent out their frustration and will make them feel less isolated and lonely.
Another stumbling block in fighting depression is the excessive use of messaging apps, social networking websites or probably E-mails. We find it an easy way of communicating our feelings and expressing our views but the reality is, such conversations are void of emotions. Nothing can be more expressive and healing than a face-to-face conversation. If someone says “I need to talk” then instead of reciprocating through messages, calling or meeting that person is a more healthy way of discussion.
Depression is an illness which can be treated and cured. It’s not easy for a depressed person to simply snap out of depression and act normally. This medical condition may need more mental support than just providing a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes, it’s more important and necessary to speak with endearment than just understand. Who knows, this might be one of those few selfless, good deeds which we can do.