Saturday, April 20, 2024

Depression – Misunderstood and Stereotyped

Written By Suhani Khemka (Grade 9)

70% of adolescents and children who suffer from mental health problems do not receive adequate interventions at the right age. 

We all try hard to look physically fit, but what about our mental health? Mental health comprises our social, physiological, and emotional well-being. Just like being physically fit not only means the absence of a disease but also getting adequate sleep and meals, mental health, too, isn’t just about not having any mental health issues but about being happy.     

In today’s complex and stressful world, trauma, depression, anxiety, etc, are very common among people, even the youth. According to WHO (World Health organization), 1 in every 5 adolescents suffers from a mental health illness. 

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, and sadly, one of the most misunderstood ones as well. 

What is depression?

Overall depression is a complex concept which has many different types, stages each having its own symptoms and treatments. We all have times when we feel low and sad, but those feelings pass with time. “Depression”, however, is more serious than that. It persists for weeks to months and has substantial effects like loneliness, fatigue etc. The two most common forms of depression are –

Clinical depression also called major depressive disorder has serious symptoms which affect how a person thinks, feels, and does daily activities. One may experience hopelessness, fatigue, loss of pleasure in hobbies, excessive crying, restlessness, and insomnia.

Persistent depressive disorder also called dysthymia, includes less severe symptoms but lasts longer. Symptoms include low self-esteem and appetite, decreased energy, sleep changes and poor concentration.

Depression is a mighty issue, but it is among the most treatable mental health issues. 80 to 90 per cent of people respond well to treatment. The bigger problem is that it is left untreated in the majority of cases. Either because the person is too ashamed to ask for help or they are unable to recognize the issue. Some reasons why depression is not diagnosed are: 

Misunderstanding – Use of depression in colloquial language

“History is so hard – I am so depressed”

People, especially teenagers use “depression” in colloquial language. Using the word depression and associating it with just “feeling sad or low” creates a misunderstanding of the term. 

Feeling sad is normal, but depression causes one to feel low for a long period of time and has a bigger effect on one’s life. This basic misconception of the word makes it difficult for people to understand their emotions. It also causes people to not take the issue seriously. We must stop using the word “depression” as synonymous with “stressed” or “sad”, instead, understand what it means so we can help people around us who might be going through depression.

Stigmas/Stereotypes about counselling

“Counselling is for depressed people” “People need it only after a traumatic experience” 

Well, NO, counselling is for everyone. Counselling is about having a safe space to talk about all your worries without the fear of being judged. Everyone might not need counselling but that does not mean it is not helpful. It helps people discover themselves, find solutions to problems, manage emotions, and above all, it can help diagnose mental issues such as anxiety and depression. Counselling can help clarify someone’s doubt about whether they are depressed or “just sad”.  

Breaking these stereotypes about counselling can make a drastic change. Once people aren’t “ashamed” and unsure to take counselling, it will help more people diagnose mental health issues if present. 

Finding happiness in a busy world like ours can be difficult at times. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety happen, and it is important to identify, accept, and treat them. If only we could break stereotypes and raise awareness about such mental health issues, the world would be a better place.

Featured Image Courtesy – ADDitude

Suhani Khemka
Suhani Khemka
Hey from Kolkata! I am an animal lover filled with wanderlust. Food has a special place in my heart, eating and cooking both! I find comfort in reading, writing and expressing myself through poetry. You will often find me painting with music blasting in my ears.


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