What is depression though? How do we even recognise? What help is available?
It is important to distinguish that from time to time, we all have moments of feeling a little “blue”. These moments do not immediately signify that a condition of depression is present. However, persistent and common symptoms and feelings of a depressed state may include:
• Feeling constantly sad, angry, irritable
• Seeing yourself as worthless and not adding value in life in general
• Feeling like you don’t measure up or add value to anything
• Feeling hopeless and helpless
• Either sleeping too much or too little and exhausted all the time
• Physical symptoms of frequent stomach cramps
• Frequent headaches
• Dropping grades at school/college/university
• Loss of appetite, energy, concentration
• Thinking often about death and suicide (please talk to someone as soon as you experience this)
There may be other reasons for the symptoms highlighted that are not depression – related and while there may be many more symptoms, it should not be ignored. Help can be found. Help is available.
Studies reflect that triggers of depression may be linked to life events such as loss of a loved one, drugs and side -effects of medical treatments, sexual abuse, mental and psychological issues, poverty, exposure to violence, abuse and even prevalent school – going conditions. Lack of identification and necessary support needed can cause a depressed person to think about and consider death and suicide more often. According to the World Health Organisation, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 – 29 year olds . This is a serious concern and the earlier the detection of depression, the earlier vital support and where necessary, treatment is initiated and provided.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, here are some suggestions to help you through it:
• Admit to yourself that you are down. There is no shame in that.
• Even when you may not feel like it, try to focus on something good.
• Connect with people, start doing stuff you used to enjoy
• Take a walk, move yourself. Exercise. Even if you may not feel like it
• Find ways to de-stress. Write, go for a massage, play games or sport
Essentially, we need to be ever more mindful that a healthy society is a more economically productive one. So how do we do this? Get our society to a healthy state emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually to equip us to be well-balanced and productive people? Understanding that we do matter.
Although there are no quick-fix solutions to depression, start with basic support steps as guided by the World of Psychology:
• Be there – Affirm people and remind them they are important
• Try small gestures – This helps to create connection
• Avoid criticising and judging – this can isolate even more
• Don’t minimise the pain- it is personal and real. With time and support, healthy coping skills can be developed
• Ask what can be done to better help – this may provide an opportunity for the person to start to respond
• Learn about depression to gain better understanding – information helps
• Exercise patience – for it gives hope
Although these are suggestions for basic support steps, it is important to seek professional help as well to facilitate the journey of identification and healing.
Find community and faith-based organisations within your communities who can assist or direct individuals with information on toll-free helplines and access to counselling centres.
Let’s talk. Just by sharing, a burden may be lessened.