Sunil had just turned 14 years old. He was a strapping young lad who was the apple of his parent’s eye and teachers, a good friend who was always cheerful and was a bowling terror to all the children he played cricket with, a good student with a keen interest in geography. Life was good. However, over the one year, as school got a lot harder to keep up with, hormones raged through Sunil’s body, the social pressures of being a young teenager in a demanding society began to rear its ugly head. Soon enough, all the friends Sunil had in life were replaced by this one overbearing friend called ‘Depression’. And depression didn’t come alone, it brought along other friends like loneliness, worthlessness, eating disorders and much more. Fortunately, Sunil’s parents realized that it was a trying time for him and sought out psychological intervention to help him cope. It’s taken Sunil five years to battle through, but today, he’s a happy young man achieving his dreams of travelling the world.
Sunil is just a minuscule fraction of people who are fortunate enough to have a support system that acknowledged depression as a problem and had parents willing to seek help. In today’s world, many of us tend to brush off depression aside and tend to treat depression as the choice of the person to be pessimistic, or even lazy. The way we callously throw about the phrase ‘I’m depressed’ at the end of a tough week at work or college when things don’t go our way is an indication of how we don’t acknowledge the problem. That being said, one can tackle depression once they acknowledge that there is a problem. If you have sudden feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, or become self-loathing, find yourself angry or irritable for inconsequential things, see a sudden drop in the interest in activities that otherwise brought you happiness, reduced or increased sleep, it’s a good idea to seek help to know what the problem is and confront it before it becomes overbearing and dire.
The easiest step to tackling depression is to talk to someone – be it a friend, a counselor, anyone who can patiently listen to what’s troubling you. Simply being away from loved ones for extended periods of time causes depression. Make sure you meet up with friends or colleagues for a meal or a cup of coffee regularly to ensure you’re away from being alone at home. In today’s world of video calls, a simple call home will give you a sense of being connected. If you do live by yourself, request a few close friends to come and check up on you regularly.
When people start to feel depressed, they tend to ignore their health, which leads to further depression. Make sure you exercise. It’s a known fact that the endorphins from exercising promote positive feelings. Do anything that gives you the rush, weights, zumba, kickboxing, pilates…the options are endless. Even a simple walk in the neighborhood park will help. Ensuring a healthy diet with adequate sleep is paramount. The food you eat plays a vital role in how you feel, so avoid quick fixes like alcohol. Regularize your sleeping pattern, sleeping a minimum of 7 hours a day, chamomile tea or warm milk before bed time helps one relax. Definitely avoid binge watching television or idly browsing the internet late into the night, read a book instead.
Avoid negative thinking by surrounding yourself with motivational posters or post-it notes with your favourite positive quotes. Join a class if you love something like dancing or playing an instrument to keep your mind focused on that. Listen to music that peps your mood, watch movies with a happy ending, start writing about your day in a diary. Invest in self-help books that will help you avoid negativity and put a positive spin on life. Break up your life into small achievable goals instead of having a large impossible target.
If all else fails to make you feel better, it’s the right time to seek professional counselling and psychotherapy. We tend to avoid this option because it’s tantamount to being considered ‘mentally unstable’ and something that society frowns upon. The therapists in these programs are trained to identify the source of depression and create a structured program to help you battle those demons. On many occasions, the depression could be caused due to medical conditions such as thyroid or current medications that you may be taking for some other ailments. It’s best to cure these with scientific medical intervention. Other remedies such as Ayurveda and homeopathy are known to also help combat depression.
While the cure to depression is not an easy straight forward road, it is a road that leads to a better life. As a society we need to acknowledge the gravity of depression before it leads to dire consequences. It’s important for people to seek out help and not ignore this growing problem before it becomes too large a beast to handle.