The preservation of mental health is one of the most overlooked aspects of general well-being in our society.
Where we put a ridiculous amount of emphasis on how fair and petite women should be, and how fit and handsome men should be, we pay little to no attention to the state of our mental wellness. It is due to this, perhaps, that mental disorders such as depression go grossly unnoticed and play a huge part in not only shaping one’s life, but also, inevitably, leading to its gradual destruction.
While dictionaries describe depression to be severe feelings of despondency and dejection, the disorder itself has a lot more to it. Its severe mental effects shape the way you feel about yourself and carry out tasks on a daily basis.
There are many forms of depression. The National Institute of Mental Health outlines a few, as follows:
Prof. Dr Ahsana Dar of Dr. Panjwani Center for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD) Karachi University (KU) reported in 2012 that 34% of Pakistanis are affected by depression.
It is therefore essential to know what the warning signs of depression are, in order to move forward towards its treatment. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, you can know if a loved one is suffering from depression by the following warning signs:
- Lack of concentration, indecisiveness and forgetfulness
- Lack of energy or fatigue in general
- Feelings of guilt, feeling worthless and/or helpless
- Negative thoughts or feelings of pessimism
- Disruption of sleeping pattern: insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Feeling irritable or restless
- Decreased interest in activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable
- Disrupted appetite: overeating or appetite loss
- Constant aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease despite treatment
- Feeling sad, anxious, hollow or empty
- Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
Depression does not discriminate between its victims. It can happen to anyone at any stage in their lives.
Those at risk may have a personal or a familial history of depression. They may be undergoing a major life change or some serious trauma. It can also be brought about by physical illnesses or medications.
Our society is brutal to those with poor mental health. As harsh as it sounds, we tend to encourage mental implosions, instead of allowing victims of depression to seek help.
We look down upon the idea of therapists and it is considered a taboo to consult one.
Our society is quicker at labeling someone as ‘pagal’ than it is at lending a helping hand. It is due to this societal construct that many individuals do not even realize that they are suffering from depression, let alone get help for it.
Treatment for depression must be sought in order to reduce or eliminate its effects. For milder forms of depression, lifestyle changes, such as eating well, exercising and fixing one’s sleeping schedule may prove to be useful. Turning to a therapist should not be a shame-inducing ordeal. They’re professionals who know what they’re doing. Other forms of treatment include psychotherapy, antidepressants and, in some cases, brain stimulation techniques such as electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, or vagus nerve stimulation.
As a society, we need to stress on the importance of mental health and its treatment, instead of writing it off as an excuse people would use to exercise lethargy. At the end of the day, we are mere humans – susceptible to all forms of diseases – physical or mental. It is high time we accepted this, for diseases do not care for societal constructs – they simply take and destroy.
Cover image via: Mobilink