The Black Monster: Depression 

A tiny black monster lurking in the shadows waiting, binding its time for you to be insecure, hopeless, lonely, exhausted to manifest itself from its hiding place to overwhelm you, over-power you. The tiny black monster suddenly becomes huge, so huge that it consumes every moment of your day. It’s there right beside when you want to dissolve among the threads of your bedsheet. It’s there right beside you when your shoulders are slumped and your knees shake from holding the weight of the world. It’s there when you hide behind, “I’m fine, I’m just tired, the cat did it…” It’s there. It’s always there.

In a place where we don’t talk about our problems and keep hush about them pretending to be fine. Isn’t fine a lie? 

I am going to talk about the elephant in the room. Depression. The stigma attached to Depression or any mental illness is palpable. It makes it even more difficult to talk about it.

Depression is so much more than just sadness or a phase that will pass. We all feel sad, moody or low from time to time for various reasons.

What is Depression? 

To clear up a few things depression is not a mental illness, it is a disorder.

A disorder simply means something that is out of the ordinary, which depression and other mental disorders are. They are more specifically a cluster of symptoms that research has shown to correlate highly with a specific emotional state. Diseases on the otherhand are manifestations of a problem with some physical organ or component within the body. 

Yes, brain is also an organ. Researchers and doctors refer to a diseased organ when something is clearly wrong with it (via a CAT scan or X-ray or laboratory test). But with our brains, it is more conplex than that we have no test to say, “Hey, there’s something clearly wrong here!”

Brain scans show abnormalities in certain biochemical levels within the brain when they suffer from depression or the like, this “proves” that depression is a disease. Unfortunately, research hasn’t gotten quite that far yet. The brain scans show us something, that much is true. But whether the scans show the cause or the result of depression has yet to be determined. And more tellingly, there is a body of research that shows similar changes in brain neurochemistry when people are doing all sorts of activities (such as reading, playing a video game, etc.).

Depression By Toby Allen

Depression is the inability to construct a future. — Rollo May

Signs and Symptoms (from Psych central) 

You may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, you’ve felt sad, down or miserable most of the time, or have lost interest or pleasure in usual activities, and have also experienced several of the signs and symptoms across at least three of the categories below.

It’s important to remember that we all experience some of these symptoms from time to time, and it may not necessarily mean you’re depressed. Equally, not everyone who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms. Self diagnosis is okay but seek professional diagnosis as medical professionals will be better able to help you in treating this disorder.

Behaviour

not going out anymore

not getting things done at work/school

Withdrawing from close family and friends

Relying on alcohol and sedatives

not doing usual enjoyable activities

unable to concentrate

Feelings

overwhelmed

guilty

Irritable

Frustrated

lacking in confidence

Indecisive

disappointed

miserable

sad

Thoughts

I’m a failure.

It’s my fault.

Nothing good ever happens to me.

I’m worthless.

Life’s not worth living.

People would be better off without me.

Physical

tired all the time

Sick and run down

headaches and muscle pains

churning gut

Sleep problems

loss or change of appetite

Significant weight loss or gain

Major Depression Disorder portrayed by an artist

There are various types of depression most common being clinical depression. For more information about this visit this site Types Of Depression

Treatment 

Depression is treatable but not curable. First step in treating depression is acceptance then seeking help, I understand that in itself is a herculian task. There are various types of psychological treatments like therapies. You can work one on one with a professional or work in a group environment or be a part of online therapies.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)

CBT is a structured psychological treatment which recognises that the way we think (cognition) and act (behaviour) affects the way we feel. CBT is one of the most effective treatments for depression, and has been found to be useful for a wide range of ages, including children, adolescents, adults and older people. 

Interpersonal therapy (IPT)

IPT is a structured psychological therapy that focuses on problems in personal relationships and the skills needed to deal with these. IPT is based on the idea that relationship problems can have a significant effect on someone experiencing depression, and can even contribute to the cause.

Behaviour therapy

While behaviour therapy is a major component of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), unlike CBT it doesn’t attempt to change beliefs and attitudes. Instead it focuses on encouraging activities that are rewarding, pleasant or satisfying, aiming to reverse the patterns of avoidance, withdrawal and inactivity that make depression worse.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

MBCT is generally delivered in groups and involves a type of meditation called ‘mindfulness meditation’. This teaches you to focus on the present moment – just noticing whatever you’re experiencing, whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant – without trying to change it. At first, this approach is used to focus on physical sensations (like breathing), but then moves on to feelings and thoughts.

MBCT can help to stop your mind wandering off into thoughts about the future or the past, and avoid unpleasant thoughts and feelings. This is thought to be helpful in preventing depression from returning because it encourages you to notice feelings of sadness and negative thinking patterns early on, before they become fixed. As a result, you’re able to deal with warning signs earlier and more effectively.

Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed when other treatments have not been successful or when psychological treatments aren’t possible due to the severity of the condition or a lack of access to the treatment.

People with more severe forms of depression (bipolar disorder and psychosis) generally need to be treated with medication. This may include one or a combination of mood stabilisers, anti-psychotic drugs and antidepressants.

Why are sufferes hesitant to seek treatment?

Silent cry for help by Destiny blue on DeviantArt

Depression in India is considered a rich man’s problem. Everytime there is talk of depression it is met with resistance of acceptance. Arguments like, “We never had these kinds of depression-wepression problems while growing up” with a sense of loathing. Depression is seen as weakness and we do not want to appear weak infront of anyone. People go even as far as making the other person feel inadequate and uncomfortable. The ignorance towards mental disorders is infuriating. 

Depression is a real problem not a attention seeking tactic and we need to wrap our head around it.

With 30 crore patients depression is no. 1 cause of ill health.

What to do?

Create safe space for every one to let out their anger, frustration, pain etc especially students. Depression is a major cause for student suicides

Schools and workplaces should have seminars that highlight the importance of mental health. 24 hour helplines.

One step at a time

Much of our social conditioning appeals to emotions rather than logic which needs to change. We’d rather blame somebody we resent for our problems rather than analysing the situation dispassionately and providing solutions.

And last listen. Just listen to people, especially your family and friends. They might not want to bother you with their problems but when they are talking listen, pay attention.

Our Generation has had no Great war, no Great Depression. Our war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives. Chuck Palahniuk

Helpline (India)

022 2754 6669

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

Languages: English, Hindi

Website: http://www.aasra.info

Depression symptoms- Psyche central 

Image credits to their artists.

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