“What would people say?”, “If I tell them they would call me ‘crazy’, ‘weak’ or ‘disabled’,” “They may send me to the ‘loony bins’.” “I can necessary be deprived of the opportunities for my career.” “They would ostracize me or kick me out of their house.” And so on… These manifold thoughts strike immediately after one gathers the courage to express his mental illness and hunt for assistance.
The societal stigma associated with mental health following the discrimination deteriorates the sufferings while making the recovery tougher. According to a Mental Health Foundation of the UK, approximately 90% of the mentally ailed people claim the destructive waves of the stigma associated with mental health. Society has a stereotyped mental sickness, supposing mentally ill people as ferocious, brutal, and precarious.
Depression is not a choice like any other physical illness like cancer is not a choice. Often portrayal of depressed people as attention seekers suppresses the chances of much-needed recovery. People need to recognize that mental health does consider not caste, creed, colour, religion, or background, but it can happen to anyone.
Not merely the social order, but media plays no less role in exacerbating the disease by correlating it with violence, danger, disability, or abnormality. The public instigates discriminating against the mentally ill people on various grounds due to the connotation attached to the word “mental disorder”. But there is a stipulation of warmth, empathy for those suffering from mental ailments since this is a preventable health problem akin to physical diseases such as tuberculosis, cancer, and so on.
Further, the self-stigma is another barrier between the treatment and illness following some misconceptions. There exists a stigma to resist oneself for seeking help because there exists a stigma of family drama or reputation or honor. Or there exists a stigma to disguise yourself into a normal being. Everyone, even the sufferers want to deny this is a problem and this foundation needs to be altered by acknowledging the mental health.
But it remains a stigma until and unless people do not talk about it and understand that it is not shameful talking about your mental health as mental health is a priority, and it should remain the priority.
Why talk about it?
Now one would ask why we are talking about depression, but it becomes a mutual responsibility to discourse upon it as depression is the leading cause of suicides worldwide. It is the most concerning health problem as closely, 8,00,000 people die due to suicide every year, and it remains the leading cause of death at the age of 14 to 29 years, says WHO.
What is it?
“Mental disorders are health conditions characterized by significant dysfunction in an individual’s cognitions, emotions, or behavior. It reflects a disturbance on the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. These are unrecognized segments of the normal development of an individual’s culture,” says the American Psychiatric Association of 2012.
The misconceptions amongst the society stigmatize mental health by building negative beliefs such as incompetence, dangerousness, character weakness, negative emotional reactions, prejudices, and the list goes endless. One needs to understand the commonness of mental illness as these problems are increasingly affecting millions of people worldwide. According to WHO, more than 300 million people irrespective of their age, suffer from depression. It is a predominant global mental illness followed by anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar diseases that are resisted of discourses and treatments which need an immediate solution.
Not only this taboo and stigma prevail in the community, but there are major myths that go around. Sadness is just an integral symptom of depression, although some speculate that depression is not separate from dejection. According to some experts, the persistent sadness, anxiousness, or “empty” mood for two weeks can be leading symptoms to depression. There can be a heterogeneous mix of feelings or emotions such as hopelessness, guilt, pessimism, worthlessness, lack of concentration, lowered energy, fatigue, or change in appetite.
How can it be prevented?
The first and foremost, mental say name-calling, sexual, and even social abuse aggravate the risk of depression. WebMD writes that “nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression.” There may be multiple reasons as unemployment, biological factors, poor housing, relationships, and there is a long chain of causes. There can be some other illness, personal conflicts, medications, or childhood trauma that increases the vulnerability to depression.
But the allegory that revolves around is that depression is incurable or those pills would affect you worst, or you would become addicted to them, or you are dependent or say you cannot overcome it ever in your life. But open your crossed finger because depression at any stage is preventable with proper medications and treatments by professionals.
At an individual level, one can help socially and emotionally to combat this health issue by reducing name-calling, judgments, or negative stereotypes. Contribution of everyone is needed to fight against depression because everyone constitutes society.
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