The World Health Organisation recognises depression as a common mental disorder that is characterized by sadness, loss of interest, feelings of guilt, low self-worth, disturbed sleep, disturbed appetite, tiredness and poor concertation.
Statistics have shown that there is an estimated 300 million people who are affected by depression worldwide. This disorder is said to be on the increase. Depression for the longest time has been pushed under the rug by previous generations who believed it was not a disorder, as severe as it is described these days.
Millennials have now come out to speak about the disorder and how it has negatively affected their lives.
With many of them experiencing various levels of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide, studies have found that this was due to elevated levels of expectation. So when the fear of not mounting to anything realises, depression rises.
With some taking to social media to speak out about the disorder in an effort to raise awareness around it and lend a helping hand to others who may feel they have no one who understands them. Annually it has been revealed that there are close to 800 000 people between the ages of 15 years to 29 years who die because of suicide. In Namibia, causes are complex with 22 out of 100 000 Namibia dying. Erongo ranks highest in the country Kunene region as the region with most suicides.
Unfortunately the disorder is not properly understood by many of those who have not experienced it. In most cases people who do not take time to research and read up on the disorder will not take it as a life threatening ordeal.
It should be noted that depression cannot be solved by uttering mere words such as ‘get over it, or it’s not that deep’ because this can do more damage than good. Mental illness is not one that can be switched on and off by choice.
According to worldwide studies, millennials face increased feelings of insecurity. This is because social media has induced higher levels of perfectionism, and so many young people simply live to chase the next dream or illusion.
There is a need for the world to come together and create safe spaces to help those affected by depression. There is also a need for human being to cultivate a deeper sense of resilience.
Psychological Counsellor, Beauty Boois explains that depression can be caused and aggravated by genetic vulnerability, neurochemical factors and cognitive factors.
Boois notes that depression can differ in terms of severity and how symptoms differ from person to person – it is not the same for every person
“Different factors come into play to cause the onset of depression – nobody chooses to have a mood disorder in much the same way that nobody chooses to have cancer. Twin studies suggest that genetic factors are involved so heritability can cause predisposition to mood disorders”.
Mood disorders have been linked to abnormal levels of two neurotransmitters in the brain. Some theories such as Martin Seligman’s helplessness model of depression asserts that people who exhibit a pessimistic explanatory style are more vulnerable to depression than those with a more optimistic outlook.
Pessimism could be caused by growing up in an environment that reinforced pessimism through a series of negative life events or by observational learning from pessimistic parents or caregivers. Again, this is not a choice.
She further notes that healing is possible with treatment is available.
“Therapy is hard work but it is worth it. If someone you know is suffering from depressive disorder don’t judge them, avoid saying things such as ‘just think positive’. It is more advisable to help them find professional help and ask them how they need to be supported and learn as you can to help”.
WHO weighs in
Antidepressants can be an effective form of treatment for moderate to severe depression, but should not the first line of treatment for cases of mild depression. They should not be used for treating depression in children and also not as first line of treatment in adolescents, among whom they should be used with caution.
Management of depression should include psychosocial aspects, including identifying stress factors, such as financial problems, difficulties at work or physical or mental abuse, and sources of support, such as family members and friends. The maintenance or reactivation of social networks and social activities is important.