The WHO estimates, around 450 million people are affected by mental health issues of varied range globally, that is, shockingly, more than the whole population of the United states of America.
As we journey in our daily life, we find that from all walks of life, probably in most of the families, someone or the other is either feeling very sad or depressed. Today it has become a ‘major depressive disorder’ which is being taken as a very serious illness.
A person undergoing depression may experience sadness or unhappiness. However, a person who feels unhappy in life does not necessarily mean that he is under depression. Feeling sad or unhappy is not considered an illness, but after a prolonged period of remaining to be upset, it develops into depression. It is then that he is suffering from a mental issue, unlike sadness which is a human emotion.
If we can be a little careful about the vast difference between depression and unhappiness, it can go a long way to help family members in need. Sincere recognition of the root cause of depression can help society in a more rational way.
The phase of a person being unhappy is a temporary human emotion. This moment one can become sad and the next moment happy. The sadness leaves giving room to feeling happy. A person becomes sad for many incidents, like, if he loses his job, if his loved one leaves him, divorce or if he didn’t pass his exams and so on. It can be said as a part of a ‘normal life.’
The moment he gets to hear of a new job, or a dear friend suddenly appears, or his teacher encourages him to improve on his studies……. the person becomes happy. These are normal reactions while facing a situation, which, eventually becomes his emotional pain. This happens because human beings are ignorant on life’s perspective.
People are not aware that the very expectation of every small thing in life gives rise to disappointment. These disappointments surface in the form of anger, jealousy, hatred, etc. When these are vented out through crying or talking about it, the person gets a temporary relief. This has become a routine mentality of commoners. This has been due to a lack of education on the real learning on life’s purpose. It is also about ignoring the fact that human nature is inherently towards the upliftment of one’s soul. But that is a whole different story.
However, sadness fades away along with time. Here it differs from depression. Being sad or unhappy should not be mistaken for the serious illness of depression. I repeat- the serious illness of depression!
Depression is a mental disorder that affects you negatively in your thought pattern and actions. It is that state of a person when he confines himself in his own imaginary world. It is a slow process of degeneration of his thoughts.
Usually, a person is so-called, habituated in a particular way of life, in family, or school, or workplace. Suddenly, when the person faces a challenging situation to which he was not prepared to face, he tries to withdraw himself slowly, instead of facing. This, he does even at the cost of losing his life goal or ambition. His belief about the way of life or the pattern of his thoughts is very much confined in a particular structure, that can be anything. The seed of anxiety to confront any situation, which was unknown to him, slowly creeps in his mind to give the formation of fear.
He then weaves a cocoon in his life and feels comfortable being on his own. Any attempt to make him come out of his cocoon becomes painful to him. He becomes a silent worker in his imaginary world. He spends less time with family members and friends. Gradually he becomes less bothered about other aspects of day to day life, about society, and about anything in regard to human welfare, at large. His world then comprises of some of the following symptoms:
- Lack of motivation
- No interest in normal daily activities.
- Either sleeplessness or extreme sleep, and change in eating habits
- Eating too little or eating too much, resulting in significant weight gain or loss
- Lack of concentration
- Having dramatic mood swings
- Feeling tired
When these symptoms are nurtured for a longer period, sometimes the person develops a suicidal tendency. At times it can also damage the nervous system.
Depression leading to suicidal tendencies
Suicidal thoughts have become very common in today’s lifestyle. A more striking way to explain would be: one person dies every 40 seconds by committing suicide, 2019 WHO report states. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and nervousness have become alarming psychological distress.
The recent incident of a noted Indian actor committing suicide when people were least expecting, invoked the discussion about depression and tendencies to suicide. Sushant Sing Rajput was an actor par excellence, and all of a sudden, he was found hanging in his Mumbai apartment. Reports suggest he was severely depressed and was taking medication.
Researchers have been studying the patterns of depression among different categories of people. While many ‘modern’ lifestyle patterns are to be blamed, but constructively one thing cannot be pointed out yet.
Maybe this is one way we can think around?
Whatever is exhibited around us, is only for our learning towards a higher purpose. Failing to grasp the underlying meaning, we exhibit our anger, frustration, depression. These are based on strong emotions and thoughts, which we believe is justified. However, these thoughts and feelings have no contribution to making our life a joyous one. They make our life miserable. Eventually, a time comes when we face the consequence of no return.
We must not forget that apart from the physical body, there is an unphysical entity in the human body. With the termination of life, by choice, the unphysical entity does not forgive such an act. It takes its own course of cause and effect for us to learn the fundamentals of our very existence.
Would you believe, India’s first Nobel Laurate, the prolific author, composer, Rabindranath Tagore battled with depression?
A book published in 2014 titled ‘Asim Manasloke Ekaki Ek Kobi’ (Lone poet in the ocean of humanity),’ by Sharad Rekha Foundation and Oxford Bookstore dealt with the bard’s conflict with depression. Losing one-after-the-other loved ones in the course of his lifetime, took its toll on Tagore’s mental health. But instead of sweeping it under the carpet, he channelized the whole conflict into outstanding literature, art, and music. The result? Scrolls of texts that gives goosebumps when read, such is their depth.
“On numerous other occasions, he had talked about wanting to die following severe bouts of depression. However, the main thing we see in him is the catharsis. The fact he realized the remedy is within him and the resolve to overcome it… that is the lesson we take away,” Hiranmay Saha, who authored the book told IANS in the launch event.
Some Symptoms To Notice A Person Planning For Suicidal Attempt
It must be noted, suicide is not a mental illness in itself. It could be a by-product of other underlying mental disorders and others like clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance use disorders, borderline personality disorders, anxiety disorders and even eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa.
- Expresses feelings of being misunderstood or being alone
- Says that they find no meaning in life, withdrawal
- Sudden calmness, could entail the person has decided to end life
- Making a will or giving away personal possessions; suddenly preparing life
- Engaging in reckless behaviors, including excessive alcohol or drug consumption
- Avoids social interactions with others
- Extreme anxiousness or agitation
- Talks about suicide as a solution
It must be noted, that these are some of the symptoms that must make others vigilant about the person’s whereabouts. 50-70% of those who commit suicides, some way or the other, give warnings to friends and families. It must be noted, however, no all who say commit suicide. In the same way, not all who ultimately commits the extreme step, say so. Hence, every warning must be noted with utmost seriousness.
What to do when you notice symptoms?
If any doubt arises about any family member, keep yourself calm and talk to them in a positive way. Do not be judgmental and try to avoid any confrontations. Do not blame them for their having such thoughts. They should not feel embarrassed while you converse with them. Listen to them carefully and tell them that they can seek professional help. That there is a way out. And nothing on this earth is serious enough to take away life.
Encourage them by saying that there is more to life and that there is a purpose of being born with this body and mind. Tell them to say and affirm: “I create life and I go beyond fear and limitations” or “I am safe at all places”.
How to come out of this disorder? A personal account
There was a situation in my life, my son, now 29, had slipped into depression when he was in standard VIII. He was 13 back then. Some turn of events forced to change his school during the mid-term. He always felt comfortable in that school. He felt that his teachers loved him and motivated him in all activities.
When the school was changed, he thought that his known world was not there anymore, the students teased him, passed unpleasant remarks, and teachers never spoke on his behalf and were very strict. His whole world went topsy turvy. The child, whom I’ve never seen to cry, started crying and begging me not to send him to the new school. I tried with another school (one of the best-known schools in the city), but in vain. He went to this school and gave up after seven days. The same reasons.
My treatment towards him
I took him to a psychotherapist, who counseled him and gave some sedatives. My son refused to take any medication. At that moment, I thought to leave him in his own world. He had totally withdrawn himself from the rest of the world. For about four months, I did not see my child in his normal life. When conversing with him, I discussed many things with him but was extremely careful about not saying anything about going back to school. Instead, I accepted his emotions and thought to myself that what could be the worst situation for him, maybe, he would not get to school anymore, but definitely would find meaning in his life worth living!
After four months, I came to know that a distant relative of mine ran a charitable school. It was very small with students coming from poor families mainly. In the course of a conversation I told my son about this school, and casually asked him whether he would care to go and join.
At first, he showed little sign of reluctance, but when I told him – since he was good at computers – he can go to help the other children to learn computers, he agreed to my suggestion. For two months he went to that school and enjoyed being with those children.
He became stress-free, and then one fine day, he asked me, that since he wants to pursue his studies in computer science, the present school will not help him in that way because the school doesn’t have an infrastructure and the concerned stream.
I then asked him whether I should go to approach his previous school (where he took admission and stayed for only one week). He agreed. With God’s grace, the School Principal agreed to take him back, without charging extra money. I was very grateful to her. After that, my son did not have to look back.
There was another incident with one of my close family members, who also showed signs of extreme withdrawal from the family, and the situation became so alarming that all family members started worrying about the consequences. Maybe she was not into clinical depression, or maybe she was, which I could not make out, but it was publicly visible for sure. I applied the same process and kept the other family members to act and behave accordingly. After a lapse of one and a half months, the person started showing signs of coming back to life.
The secret of my episode
During such storms in my life, I was in the quest for true meaning. I tried to educate myself about how thought patterns influence our world. I learned that every experience in life comes to impart certain lessons to us. There was so much learning to know me, and the true ways of life.
Each negative situation comes to help us for self-transformation through the right perspective, insight, and wisdom. With such transformation, each negative situation comes as a healing instrument for the person who is the victim, or potentially could be.
Personally I noticed, every time I learned a certain lesson through the pains of my life, that situation got healed. Situations get healed when we lift the focus from the problem and instead focus on our inner healing, something that is badly neglected.
When we get entrapped in issues, when we are actually into problems, we tend to forget about our self-healing. Notice that the very mindset to end the self-life comes from the root of extreme neglect and disconnect with the self, as if, it does not exist! We tend to look out for others to buy the ingredients, that actually grow in abundance in the self garden of heart and mind. Call it ignorance, or neglect, this is a repetitive, cyclic pattern we have got our lives into.
Of course, depression is a clinical disorder, like diabetes or hypertension. And you’ve jolly well got to consult healthcare practitioners. No doubt in that. But hey, isn’t every major disease out there a byproduct of our life? Mostly so, expect a few. Hence, apart from getting appropriate medical health, one can surely consider developing a bond with oneself. This is not saying one should forget the world. It simply means: “our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners,” as William Shakespeare like to put. So, please CHOOSE the way out.
If you feel you, or someone is in need of mental support don’t hesitate to reach out to the nearest mental health clinic/support. Some helplines are Sanjivini: 011-24311918; Aasra: 022 2754 6669; Sneha India Foundation: +914424640050.