Depression is a medical condition and we need to start talking about it.

I hear the term ‘depressed’ used so many times, mostly thrown in a conversation very light heartedly, but it is only recently I have come to recognise the weight that this term carries. It is only recently that I have been exposed to the implications of what it means to be diagnosed through an individual who I am close to.

Depression has many different levels and so its treatment differs. The most crucial distinction for us to recognise is that it is a mental condition, not a physical one. When an individual is showing symptoms of depression, I have seen people say things like, “snap out of it” or “you’ll get over it soon enough…“. By telling individuals such simplistic rememdies, we are increasing their feeling of helplessness as we highlight their inability to remove themselves from that state of mind. Extreme cases of depression lead to individuals feeling so trapped that suicidal thoughts can be expected. I feel that because our community doesn’t realise the depths of depression and its effect on the mental state of an individual; we tend to treat it like a physical condition alone. This results in us offering solutions which simply occupy the time of the individual; simply putting them in to a routine and just expecting the depression to go. We must remember that it is the mentality of the individual that is causing the physical changes in behaviour. This distinction is crucial for us to begin to realise how problematic depression can actually be.

Instead of treating it as a mere physical condition that can be treated by throwing the individual into a routine and getting busy with life, I feel we need to do more as a community to raise awareness of the mental side to depression. We need to stop feeling immune to it or ashamed of talking about it. We as a community need to start creating a safe space in which dialogue of depression can take place. There is no shame in getting professional help and by creating more awareness we allow individuals to feel safer in seeking help rather than feeling alone in their illness. By there being more dialogue taking place, we provide a space in which individuals that may be going through depression can be comforted by the fact that what they are going through is a recognised illness and one that can be treated; but most importantly, that they are not alone.

Our lack of knowledge or exposure to the mental implications of depression does not mean it cannot exist within our families. There is no shame in accepting that a close one is beyond our help. Sometimes the practicality of life isn’t the solution; at times, it is the root causes of the emotions and the change in behaviour that need to be dealt with in order to sustain a healthier lifestyle. I feel that the medical implications of depression need to be brought into a greater dialogue and for depression to not be a taboo subject within our community. We are only entrapping the suffering individuals further. It is our responsibility to create a safe space for individuals to feel comfortable seeking help and we can start by talking more about depression.