Depression: Stop the Stigma - Let’s Break the Silence

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Dr Naro Imchen
MD (Community Medicine)
Community Health Department
CIHSR, Dimapur

 

Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also harder to bear. -  CS Lewis

 

Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his/her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his/her own community. Our mental health is just like our physical health, everybody has it and just like our body, our mind can become unwell. Mental health problem can affect anyone.


Depression is one of the common mental health disorders. Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression.As per NMHS (2015-16) in India, one in 20 (5.25%) people over 18 years of age have ever suffered (at least once in their lifetime) from depression amounting to a total of over 45 million persons with depression in 2015.Depression affects the mood of a person; it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life.Depression can range from being a mild illness to a severe one. Depression and suicide are closely interlinked and at its worst, depression can lead to suicide.

 

Are you having depression???

Signs and Symptoms of depression

If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression.

 

  • Sustained feeling of sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Angry outbursts, restlessness, irritability or frustration
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Loss of energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Disturbed sleep – decreased sleep or oversleeping
  • Withdrawn from family and friends
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts


Not everyone who is depressed experiences all the symptoms. Some people experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many.

Factors that Increase the Risk Factors for Depression

  • History of childhood abuse: physical, sexual or emotional
  • Social problems: unemployment, school dropouts, debt, discrimination, domestic violence
  • Serious or chronic illness, including cancer, stroke, chronic pain or heart disease
  • Genetics: family history
  • History of other mental health disorders
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs


Depression is largely preventable and treatable. Timely interventions have shown favourable recovery and positive outcomes in the care and management of depression. However, the stigma and treatment gap associated with depression is huge. 


Depression can be effectively managed with pharmacological means (antidepressant medications) and psychotherapeutic means (counselling or therapy) or a combination of both, depending on the severity of the condition along with interventions that promote healthy lifestyles like coping skills, sleep hygiene etc.


How to deal with depression???

Coping Skills

  • Regular exercise
  • Adequate nutrition
  • Adequate leisure time
  • Time management and task prioritization
  • Time for personal reflection and communication with God

Sleep Hygiene

  • Regularizing timings of sleeping and getting up
  • Regular exercise (esp. in the morning)
  • Regular mealtimes
  • Avoiding caffeinated drinks after 5pm
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoiding stimulating activities at night (mobile phones, TV, physical activity etc.)
  • Setting right environment for sleep (temperature, lighting, comfort etc.)


Prevention of relapse is an important aspect in the management of depression or any other mental health problems. Regular follow-up and following the relapse prevention strategies is crucial.


Acknowledging and accepting that you are going through depression itself is a sign ofyour strength and not your weakness. There is no shame and guilt in being depressed. It does not mean that you are weak, it is just that you are having some emotional instability. 


 “Talk about depression, spread the awareness, help and support the people going through depression.”