Irrelevant of age, economic or social status, depression is a condition that is commonly prevalent among individuals today. Before the complexities of the fast- paced lives and the highly competitive nature present in all sphere of life it is important to ensure your physical as well as emotional wellbeing is ensured.
Sri Lanka Sumithrayo - Mel Medura Executive Consultant and Rajarata University Applied Sciences Lecturer in Health Promotion Dr. Manoj Fernando spoke to Daily Mirror on the reasons that cause depression among many Lankans today and measures that can be taken to avoid it.
Q: What conditions cause depression in a person?
Apart from chemical imbalances in the brain, a weak mental state of an individual can lead to depression. Those with poor coping skills and self-confidence are relatively more prone to fall into this state when faced with a loss in their personal or professional lives.
Depression experienced by the youth is mainly caused by not being able to realise their objectives, hopes and dreams. Today’s highly competitive lifestyle has prompted students to strive for various goals, upon being coaxed by parents, peers and even teachers. I have too often come across individuals where the failure to achieve such set aims had driven pressurised young people into depression.
"Many of these expectations have been influenced by the media. Apart from the pressures of marriage such as dealing with each other’s differences and preferences, the failure to fulfill the expectations of one’s spouse, parents and others in the close circle can prompt depressive emotional phases in married individuals"
Depression in women is caused by unrealised expectations and gender based violence. Many of these expectations have been influenced by the media. Apart from the pressures of marriage such as dealing with each other’s differences and preferences, the failure to fulfill the expectations of one’s spouse, parents and others in the close circle can prompt depressive emotional phases in married individuals. Moreover, I feel present day teledramas and TV programmes are also to be blamed. The female characters in TV dramas influence men to have unrealistic expectations about their spouses while the females too tend to develop an impractical impression concerning married life and its challenges. Together, it results in the creation of individuals being unhappy and discontent with their personal lives which most often can escalate into a depressive state.
Moreover, minor psychiatric diseases such as social phobia as well as drug dependency are likely to trigger depression. However, irrelevant of the individual’s age, we all tend to choose the coping mechanism to grapple depression through ‘socialisation’. Once a person experiences a loss or a failure in any sphere of their life, they either choose to blame it on those around them or internalise the issue. Despite the manner in which they perceive their loss, one thing remains common. It is the family, relatives, peers, media influences and TV programmes.
This is why it is important to remain cautious when reporting on suicides. There is a reason why a subject named Life Skills has been introduced to the local school syllabuses. Unfortunately, the real issues that require development such as strengthening of confidence, coping and decision making skills have still not been incorporated into these programmes. It is important to keep in mind that it is socialisation that influences a depressed individual into making a choice among harming oneself, resorting to drugs or alcohol or obtaining professional help to get over the situation they are going through.
Q: What conditions cause depression in a person? What should be done to overcome depression?
Thereafter, if the symptoms persist, consulting a doctor should be considered. It need not necessarily be a psychiatrist. A general physician is able to determine whether or not the individual requires psychiatric help.
It is vital for the depressed individual to have a strong support group of family and friends in order to get over their condition effectively. If you know of a person who is experiencing a tough time and manifests the above mentioned symptoms, it is important to ensure that he/she is not isolated. Those around such a person should ensure that they do not completely isolate or pay too much attention in a way that would irritate the troubled individual. It is also important to ensure that parents, friends and other peers of the patient create shift in their mindsets.
Personal wellbeing is important too. For example, if you were to make a trip to a certain destination, it is important to enjoy the road-trip instead of waiting to reach the destination to enjoy yourself. Likewise, apart from ensuring your physical wellbeing through obtaining proper nutrition and exercise and good sleeping habits, one should also develop interests and hobbies in order to feel content apart from engaging in work or familial commitments.
"Personal wellbeing is important too. For example, if you were to make a trip to a certain destination, it is important to enjoy the road-trip instead of waiting to reach the destination to enjoy yourself. Likewise, apart from ensuring your physical wellbeing through obtaining proper nutrition and exercise and good sleeping habits, one should also develop interests and hobbies in order to feel content apart from engaging in work or familial commitments"
It’s important for students to realise that mapping out linear pathways to success are not practical. They should also work at developing their personality traits with regard to their confidence, decision making and coping abilities. While going through a depressive state, if possible it might be a good idea to take some time off the daily routine to refresh oneself and obtain a fresh perspective. However, it is vital to make sure that the time taken off is spent on preparing oneself to face the issue and challenges troubling you. Otherwise, depression would continue to be a recurring phenomenon.
Seeking the help of a counselor is also advisable if one is experiencing emotional crises that have strongly impacted his or her life.
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