Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
Your closest person may be smiling all the time and yet battling depression.
If someone you know has lost interest in things they enjoyed, has trouble sleeping or is oversleeping, is unable to concentrate, has lost appetite or is overeating, it is time for you to take these symptoms seriously.
Besides professional and medical help, a person battling depression needs people around them to be sensitive.
A study reported in WHO, conducted for the NCMH (National Care Of Medical Health), states that at least 6.5 per cent of the Indian population suffers from some form of serious mental disorder. India is the most depressed country in the world.
Unfortunate as it is, we do not talk about depression as much as we do about other illnesses. Because of the gap in discussion and communication, many of us who have not had to battle the deadly disease, are unaware and ignorant about its symptoms. We do not know how to deal with those suffering from depression. Instead of extending a helping hand, we end up unknowingly worsening their pain.
In the process of healing, close ones of a depressed person have a huge role to play. Vigilance and sensitivity on our part can end up saving a life.
If you do not know what the symptoms are, read up about them. If you do not understand how badly it can affect a human being, make attempts to learn about the condition. Information is just a click away.
While The Logical Indian is not here to talk about the intricacies of the medical condition, we decided to make a list of ten things you should never tell a depressed person.
Your one wrong move, one insensitive comment, can lead to irreparable loss.
'It's All In Your Head'
Depression is a psychological, social, and biological disorder. Someone battling depression cannot just shut it off. It is chronic and gets better only with proper treatment.
A number of times, patients themselves do not realise that it's a medical condition. So if you, being a well-wisher, ignore the symptoms and dismiss the severity of the condition, your close ones will never heal.
'It's A Normal Part Of Life'
Life has its fair share of ups and downs. Sorrow is a part of everyday life, but depression is not.
If someone is depressed, they do not have to fight it alone. They can get help, get treated and manage the condition. Being depressed is not something one has to live with.
'It Isn't A Big Deal!'
No, it's a huge deal. From the outside, a depressed person may be smiling, but may be yearning for help at the same time. If you ignore the seriousness of the illness, you may be unknowingly pushing the person into a seemingly bottomless chasm.
Extend help. Get them the required medical attention.
'It's Just A Phase'
Do not wait for a depressed person to get better, because without the needed medical attention, they never will. Depression is not a phase. It's not something you can just get over. It's not the same as sadness, and no matter how many times you say 'this too shall pass', it will not.
'Many People Have It Worse Than You'
Do not make comparisons. Telling someone that others have it worse than them does not change the fact that the person is going through an emotionally draining time. It will only make them feel ashamed of their feelings.
Instead, tell them that what they are feeling is real and anyone in their situation would be feeling the same way. Tell them that they will heal.
'You Just Want Attention'
Don't be unkind and judgemental. People battling depression are not looking for attention, they are seeking help, even if they do not directly tell you that.
You being unaware of the situation the person is in does not mean that the struggle they are going through is not real.
Sit beside them, keep a reassuring hand on their shoulder. Bring them a cup of coffee, like you would for any other friend battling some other disease.
It's not as easy as you think. For a person who is hurting inside, it is very exhausting and damaging to find energy to smile. You will only end up making them feel bad about themselves.
Assure them that their feelings are valid, and they will eventually get better.
On the surface, it may look like a depressed person is preoccupied with themselves or with their own thoughts, but it does not mean that they are selfish. They are hurting so much internally that they do not know how to get out of their cocoon.
Telling them they are selfish does no good, but fuels feelings of shame and guilt.
'You Don't Look Depressed'
How a person looks on the outside does not always reflect what they are feeling internally. Someone who is depressed may be worried, ashamed or afraid of what people will think about them if they find out that they are battling a mental illness.
There is no specific way of looking depressed. Not everyone will sob the entire day or not get out of bed in the morning. In fact, you possibly don't know the immense effort they have to put to not look sad.
Dealing with someone who is depressed can be difficult at times, but remember that their difficulty at that point of time is much graver than yours. Making them feel guilty by telling them that they are taking you down will them will push them further down the abyss.
A depressed person is also battling guilt, every moment. Let us not add to their hardships.
Be sensitive. Urge them to open up to you and make you understand how they are feeling.
When you express your feelings, you may find your words clear and to the point from your perspective. However, a depressed person at the receiving end, already going through a lot, may feel humiliated, attacked, ashamed of themselves and deeply hurt.
Extend warmth and love to those who are battling this deadly condition. Don't be unkind. Without tact and compassion, your effort to help may do more damage than good.
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