History tells us that some of the world’s most distinguished people have suffered from depression and battled it with utmost bravery, writes Summaya Afaq, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Karachi, Pakistan. This year the World Health Organization has chosen ‘depression’ as the theme for World Health Day.
At the age of 20, his loving sister died. When he was 21, his business start-up failed. The women he loved departed from this world when he was 26 year old. He suffered a nervous breakdown at the age of 27. At every stage of life, he was challenged by horrendous and unfortunate events. He never allowed the storms of life to unleash their wrath on him nor did he allow them to overpower him. In 1860, he became the president of world’s most powerful country.
However, what makes his story stand out is the fact that he never surrendered to the monster people know by the name of ‘depression’. He was none other than United States’ most beloved president, Abraham Lincoln, who abolished the generations-old institution of slavery in America.
There are heightened concerns among medical practitioners about rising level of depression among all age groups. The gravity of the situation calls for increased awareness on depression and how to tackle the stigma associated with it.
It’s important to note that depression does not mean momentary mood fluctuations that we experience in our lives due to numerous challenges. A person is diagnosed with clinical depression if the repetitive depressive episodes hamper the normal activity of an individual at home, school or workplace for more than two weeks.
The challenge around depression is not lack of treatment, but the fact that people cringe from seeking medical advice or treatment. There is a need to change this self-defeating attitude. Only you can decide if you choose to be brave enough to defeat depression, something that is absolutely in your control. People who suffer from depression usually don’t seek medical advice due to biased behaviour and unwarranted apprehension of peers and society. As a result, the mental condition of the affected individual starts to deteriorate gradually.
Few people know that depression and other associated illnesses like anxiety and panic attacks can be treated through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). “Sometimes I think what keeps people from coming in to see us is that they’re afraid they’ll have to take a pill”, says Kate Muller, PsyD. CBT involves giving counsel to the patients in order to change their attitudes and behaviour by focusing on their thoughts and beliefs. If you seek medical advice promptly, you may be able to defeat depression without taking antidepressant medicines.
Deepika Padukone is a renowned Indian actress who suffered from depression, but took it in her stride. “Everyone has gone through something that has changed their life. Anxiety, depression and panic attacks are not signs of weakness. They are signs of trying to remain strong for way too long’’, said Padukone.
She confessed that she was resistant to taking medicines to combat the illness. She added, “The counselling helped, but only to an extent. Then, I took medication, and today I am much better.” But, this is just one story of success against depression. There are many eminent people who, with their will and courage, defeated this curable mental illness.
We all love Harry Potter. But few might know that J.K Rowling, novelist of this best-selling book series, fought and defeated depression. Rowling revealed, “I’d gone into that very depressive mind set where everything has gone wrong, so this one good thing in my life will now go wrong as well.” In one her tweets, Rowling gave out a loud message on how to defeat the ‘dementors’ of depression. She tweeted, “They’re bothering a unique, valuable human being who deserves happiness. Ask for help. Don’t fight alone. Big hug.”
The idea is that you must not allow depression to bog you down, rather vow to do whatever it takes to defeat it. There are antidotes to fighting depression. You may read uplifting articles of famous psychologists on the internet. As you read the articles on how to combat depression and anxiety, you will gradually develop a strong internal coping mechanism that would allow you to quickly deal with low mood. You must keep yourself engaged in healthy pursuits. Procrastination often leads to depression. Indulge in activities like painting, poetry, watching a funny movie, reading a humorous book, meeting a person with whom you have a loving relationship, travelling or gardening.
When God has placed the world beneath your feet and laid out the sky over you, the only challenge that lies ahead is to defeat all odds and reach for the skies. Choose your own destiny by refusing to submit to society’s set standards and shunning unwarranted criticism by peers. Only you are responsible for your well-being. Take that first step. Reach out to a psychologist and talk about depression.
As J.K Rowling said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”. It is about time you take concrete steps to defeat depression.
About me: I have done my masters in business administration (MBA) from Karachi University Business School. I am an ardent reader. I strongly believe in the power of social entrepreneurship and impact investment to help solve pressing global challenges such as poverty, illiteracy, poor sanitation and women’s economic empowerment.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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