Find out the truth about depression, antidepressants, and who’s at risk.
“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. . . . It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.” – J.K. Rowling
As per the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 350 million people all over the globe suffer from depression. Technically, this makes depression the top-most cause of disability all over the world. However, more often than not, depression is not really considered a disease. There is a lot of stigma attached to suffering from depression, and things like “She’s just sad.”, “He’s weak.”, “You’re better than this. Stop being lazy.”, and “Just get over it!” are constantly thrown around by those who know nothing about this condition.
It is a cruel disease that doesn’t give you any leverage – there are no test results, no rashes, no fevers, and no overt manifestations that prove beyond doubt that you are sick. Aptly described as “a room in hell with only your name on the door”, depression is often a solitary disease that serves to isolate you from the very support system you need.
When celebrities like J.K. Rowling and Robin Williams step into the limelight with their depression stories, the world sits up to take notice. The truth is that depression can affect anyone from any walk of life, rich or poor, young or old. The key is to understand depression, and be aware of what it is and it isn’t. This condition may affect someone in your family or workplace, and it serves to know how to be compassionate to the people struggling with this debilitating illness.
Growing up is a process of learning to control your moods. At the age of 2, when you’re upset, throwing a tantrum is accepted and expected from you. As you grow up, you learn that controlling your moods is expected instead. When people cannot seem to manage their moods, they are often perceived as weak or damaged in some way. The overwhelming consensus is that if you try hard enough and have strong willpower, you will be able to control your moods and “get over” whatever it is that is troubling you.
The illness of depression is triggered by stressful conditions or events in life. Most people manage to bounce back after delving into it for a while. For some people though, the stressful event triggers depression and leads them to a downward spiral that often lasts a long time. Clinical depression is an illness, and it cannot be willed away. Thankfully, clinical depression is a treatable illness. Without adequate treatment, getting better is incredibly difficult as your way to recovery is mired with symptoms such as fatigue, helplessness, hopelessness, mental fugue, and loss of vitality.
Perhaps the worst thing you can do to someone with depression is to tell them to “get over it”. The fact that getting better is a slow process is not due to the lack of trying or willful resistance on the part of the sufferer. Such a line of thought will only serve to isolate them and make them feel even worse about themselves.
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