"She is just a drama queen." That's what they always said about the girl who constantly laughed out loud in class, only to start crying almost simultaneously. That girl, was my friend. You might wonder why I used the past tense. She used to be my closest friend, she was almost like a sister to me, and one day, she just snapped. I always knew why. She was ostracized in class, abused at home and being bullied slowly pushed her to the edge of depression. It was the year 2011, and I watched as my friend got rushed into the ER for attempted suicide.
Depression, a mental disorder, affects more than 300 million worldwide. It differs from our usual emotions and how we experience mood fluctuations in our daily lives. Depression can be mild to severe, temporary and even semi-permanent, and in its worse cases, can lead to suicide. Common effects on daily lives include (but are not exhaustive):
* Difficulty in focusing at work/in school
* Hyper-activeness/Low concentration levels/Low level of energy
* Lack of appetite
* Reduced or abnormal sleep patterns
* Suicidal thoughts
* Irritability/Elevated mood
* Overly High/Low level of Self-Esteem
* Lack of Concern towards Daily life (Personal Hygiene, Dressing, Social Contact etc)
Types of Depression
Depression is classed into two major subtypes:
1. Recurrent Depressive Disorder
* Series of depressive episodes that tend to recur leading to inability to function normally on a daily basis. Can affect concentration levels, cause anxiety, decrease need for food and sleep.
2. Bipolar Affective Disorder
* Series of depressive and maniacal episodes. The patient can appear to be normal at times. Mood swings will tend to be more severe. During maniacal episodes, the patient tend to have a higher self-esteem and be more irritable, even going to the extent of appearing as 'self-destructive'.
Depression can also be classified as primary or secondary, in which primary is caused by innate factors/hereditary while secondary can be caused by external factors and even other illnesses.
In order to seek treatment, it is crucial to identify the type of depression that one suffers from. Treatment can come in the form of speech therapy, medication and behavioral therapy.
Treatments vary according to the different types of depression that one suffers from. Correctly identifying the symptoms will increase the effectiveness of the psychological treatments. They include:
1. Behavioral activation
2. Cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT]
3. Interpersonal psychotherapy [IPT])
4. Antidepressant medication (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs] and tricyclic antidepressants [TCAs])
Certain medication will have adverse effects (such as loss of appetite, diarrhea and headaches), which have to be considered before administrating the medication. The effectiveness and suitability of treatments can also vary for different individuals as well.
Depression - My Silent Friend
It has been more than a year since I was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder. Yes, depression is a common illness which has amounted to many youth suicide (it is the second leading cause of death among teenagers), however due to social stigma, many are not seeking help or getting the treatment they need.
A year ago, I was warded in a mental health facility. Due to the abusiveness I faced in my daily life, being in a mental ward, I had people surrounding me, some are encouraging, some are mentally unsound, yet I felt safe. Being in there let me have the time to reconsider my life and also learn to embrace depression. Staying positive and refraining from feeling anxious were difficult at first. It took me a couple of months before I committed to my medication (SSRI). The medication caused me severe diarrhea which lasted about nearly two months, and caused hallucinations and nightmares as well.
To you, my dear friend/reader, sometimes it feels like you're drowning...but,
When there's a will, there's a way. It took me more than a year, but I persevered. The anxiety within me, is somewhat gone, and I'm taking baby steps forward in hopes of a full recovery. To anyone suffering from any form of physical/mental illness, have hope. As long as you live on, you have a chance to change your life. Your life is how you decide to live it.
I'm glad a year ago I failed to take my own life. Looking back, I saw how terrified my friend was while she suffered from depression. How traumatized we all were when we heard of her hospitalization. Never discriminate, and never stigmatize. I hope whoever is reading this to always adopt an open mind and offer support to one who needs it. You might just save a life.
To all of you, have hope and love yourself. Have hope and you'll do just fine. :)
P.S. Feel free to share your stories/offer your support to anyone suffering. Thank you for reading!