Depression: Nothing to be ashamed of

After last week's post, a few of you messaged me to talk about your own depression (read the first post here). I appreciate those who reached out. And of course I could have never guessed that you were sad behind that carefree facade. It just goes to show that there is no 'typical' personality prone to depression. It can happen to anyone. And probably to the one you think is most immune to it. So less judgement, more kindness. 

Today Anna Chandy (therapist and author of Battles of the Mind) talks about the signs of depression, and why you should never be ashamed of it.  

You may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, you've felt sad, down or miserable most of the time, or have lost interest or pleasure in usual activities, and have also experienced several of the signs and symptoms across at least three of the categories below. It’s important to remember that we all experience some of these symptoms from time to time, and it may not necessarily mean you're depressed. Equally, not everyone who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.

Not going out anymore/ not getting things done at work or school/withdrawing from close family and friends/ relying on alcohol and sedatives/ not doing usual enjoyable activities/ inability to concentrate

Overwhelmed/ guilty/ irritable/ frustrated/ lacking in confidence/ unhappy/ indecisive/ disappointed/ miserable/ sad

'I’m a failure.'/ 'It’s my fault.'/ 'Nothing good ever happens to me.'/ 'I’m worthless.'/ 'Life’s not worth living.' / 'People would be better off without me.'

Tired all the time/ sick and run down/ headaches and muscle pains/ churning gut/ sleep problems/ loss or change of appetite/ significant weight loss or gain

There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of if one is depressed. Are we ashamed when we have a heart attack? Depression metaphorically is a “brain attack” and one needs time to recover. It is time that the stigma surrounding mental illness is lifted. Our foundation, The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF) has already begun the conversation to reduce stigma. As more and more individuals come out into the open and speak about their depression, the stigma will begin to minimise and a new norm of “no shame of depression” will begin to emerge.

Very often individuals who show symptoms of depression feel hopeless and almost like their life looks bleak and therefore do not want to seek professional help. It is important to gently nudge and urge them to seek professional help with the assurance that they will recover and soon feel better.

Self-treatment and recovery for depression is not possible. Complementary support like change of lifestyle, yoga and spiritual help will work more effectively and in the long-term, if it is combined with professional help.

It is most important that you work with a competent, ethical professional who is able to empathise and relate to the individual frame of reference, context and is non-judgemental.

An essential requirement that is disregarded in our country is that mental health professionals are supervised for their work. It is important to recognise that mental health professionals as long as they are practicing, need to be in supervision and personal therapy. All over the world, this is a requisite.