Depression, a highly underrated mental disorder affects people mostly between the ages of 15-29. More than 350 million people are affected world-wide and an estimated 800,000 lives are lost due to depression every year.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the most common illness worldwide and the leading cause of disability. It is also one of the main motives behind most suicides among the youth these days.
When you begin to have mood swings and don’t feel like talking to anyone or you’re sad about an issue or lose interest in daily activities, you are not depressed. If these persist, it may grow into depression. Most times, people only want attention during their mood swings, and they want people to insist on wanting to talk to them and hear what is going on with them even when they push people away. They want to feel excessively cared for so much that when they do not get that attention, they begin to feel they have no one in life and this creates depression and generates suicidal thoughts.
A depressed person can be the quietest person around you and can be the loudest and most entertaining person around you.
To know if someone is going through depression, you need to be mindful of the consistency of their mood swings, poor appetite, restlessness, sudden lack of energy and unexplained physical aches, loss of interest in regular activities and any questionable change in character trait.
Upon noticing these signs, try talking to the person to find out what is bothering them. Most depressed people try to shy away from attention so they pretend everything is okay and they might deny having any problems. Just like their signs of depression, you should be persistent as well and try as much to make them know how much you care and that you are available to listen to them whenever they are ready to open up. Sometimes, it is important to keep a close eye, so they do not harm themselves when they feel no one is watching. Create a trust-walled environment and with time, they will grow comfortable around you enough to share their problems.
As serious as depression sounds and is, it is a treatable illness. Depression can be cured with support, psychotherapy or drug treatment. Support can be in the form of hangouts with friends and family to make them see how much everyone still cares about them despite their sudden switch. You can also have discussions on what is stressing them and generating practical solutions that they are comfortable with. Depressed people can also go for counselling or talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which basically teaches people to find new ways to behave by changing their thought pattern. They can also take antidepressants, of course specifically prescribed by a doctor or therapist.
There are types and stages of depression and it is very important that aside the family support, depressed people be made to see a doctor or therapist, so they know what stage in depression they are and which therapy or drugs they need so as to ensure effective treatment.
Do not underestimate the manipulating power of depression. You never know how many lives you might save just by checking up on people.
Writer: Maureen Dedei Quaye