Yes, depression can kill you

Published: October 21, 2012
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A few months ago I came across a woman who was suffering from depression, but her husband's support helped a lot in her recovery. PHOTO: REUTERS

In accordance with World Health Organization (WHO), depression is all set to become the second most fatal disease by 2020 with only coronary heart problems preceding it.

These figures are alarming as they warn us about a disease of which little is known. In addition, it is not even acknowledged as a proper ailment in many quarters of our society.

The truth of the matter is that depression is a debilitating disease that sucks pleasure out of the lives of its sufferers and shrinks their self-esteem to almost nothing. Going about a daily routine turns into a draining struggle, and hopelessness envelopes the souls of its victims. All the positives of the sufferers’ lives get pushed to the corner and negativity clouds their perceptions.

A constant and overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and abject sadness prevails. As a result, the personal, social and occupational lives of those suffering from depression becomes impaired. With no hope felt, suicide surfaces as an attractive option.

Push to focus occasions on which you have felt utter despair. Now add what it would like to be in that state for an extended period of time ─ excruciatingly painful, right? Add to that the burden of not having your problems validated and understood, as it is the case in our society; little is known about depression.

Are you surprised now that many choose death over living in this hell?

Depression manifests itself in different forms. For some, it takes the shape of anger outbursts that are unreasonable and uncalled for. For others, depression may cause a break in reality with patients experiencing hallucinations and delusions. The sleeping patterns of the sufferer may also be disturbed with excessive sleep or middle insomnia. In addition, depression usually also accompanies a marked increase or decrease in weight. Crying spells may also become frequent. Depression is diagnosed if a certain number of these symptoms persist for two weeks causing impairment in functioning.

Prevention is certainly better than cure. Therefore, it becomes important to identify and comprehend the factors that contribute to the onset of depression. First and foremost is the contribution of parental figures. If an individual childhood is marked by parental neglect or abuse, then depression may emerge later in life.

The resulting personality characteristics put individuals at a greater risk. These include pessimism, low or inflated self-esteem, ineffective handling of stress and over-dependence on others.

For instance, I encountered a girl suffering from depression who was emotionally and physically abused by her father, who was a strict disciplinarian. He wanted things his way, and would lose his temper at even the slightest breach of his unjustified rules. The anger she felt towards this mistreatment was internalised and later turned into depression. Owing to her childhood experiences, she felt that in order to be worthy, she needs to be perfect. Therefore, whenever she failed to live up to these standards, she toed the path of self-deprecation.

Having said as much, depression can result from other relationships as well. Bearing this in mind make sure you do justice to all the relationships around you. They way you behave towards you parents, spouse or peers, could have a profound effect on their lives.

Other than these factors, thwarting of dreams and inspirations, and perceived injustices also play a major role in the development of depression.

Clinical experience has contributed to the realisation of the fact while neglect, abuse and unfair treatment can cause damage, support and love can work wonders. Many just want their plight to be noticed and their voices being heard. Many patients are under the impression that others do not understand their situation. This is not surprising as people suffering from depression are often ridiculed by others as they are not able to keep their emotions under control and are not able to act “strong”. I have seen many male patients open up to my senior at the hospital because they do not feel as though they are being  judged. They leave sessions with their burden considerably relieved.

Therefore, the next time, you encounter anyone crippled with hopelessness and sadness or in grips of unwarranted and relentless anger, try to reach out to them. Instead of writing them off as a lost cause, try to understand their situation and empathise. At times, your attempts at comforting the sufferer will be resisted as they often consider their situation beyond redemption. However, persistence pays off in this regard.

A few months ago, I came across a case in which a woman had been suffering from depression for the past two years due to conflicts with in-laws and financial issues. Her husband, on the other hand, was extremely supportive and kind. He had stood by her even when her behaviour had been hurtful to him and she rejected help. In the end, that was a major contributing factor in her recovery.

High incidence and prevalence of depression is a pressing yet sidelined issue in our society. With this state of affairs, let’s vow to learn about this killer disease and educate others with the objective of ensuring prevention, proper treatment and rehabilitation so that we can stop this problem from turning into an epidemic that it sadly promises to be.

Read more by Sehrish here.

Sahrish.Ahmad

Sahrish Ahmad

A trainee clinical psychologist, who loves to read and write.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • https://www.facebook.com/EduGuides EduGuides

    Good article. We should try to help those who are suffering from depression instead of neglecting them.Recommend

  • Faisal

    Very well written Sehrish. I appreciate it.
    Lets spread more and more awareness.
    In western countries the awareness and help is very much available and almost none in third world countries like our Pakistan.Recommend

  • Insaan

    Jogging can be a good anti-depressant. One real problem is we human tend to believe that we know EVERYTHING, and our problems can’t be because of how we think and react. We want a doctor to find some chemical imbalance and give our psychological state a label and some medicine for instant fix

    Feeling loved gives us confidence, loneliness gives us anxiety and depression.
    If your health allows and you feel depressed, jogging and exercise, good music, good friends can help.

    Imagination plays a big role in psychological problems. Recommend

  • 123

    Beautiful beautiful lovely article ! God bless you dear writer ! thankyou so much ! Recommend

  • Umair Naseer

    very nice article…every word written is true.I have seen live examples of this problem. But Sahrish can you kindly give us solutions on how the problem could be solved if a patient is suffering from the problem or can i somehow contact you to discuss the problem of a relative? Recommend

  • Sarah Ahmed

    One of the best articles I’ve read on tribune. The message penetrats straight to the heart. Thank you !!Recommend

  • Turbo Lover

    They say bananas contain a chemical that acts as an anti-depressant, this is the exact same chemical found in Prozac. And yes, too much depression can cause your heart to stop working also.Recommend

  • ab

    the real cure of depression is first of all realizing that you are having a problem.no physiologist will really be able to help you or the help will come in a very long time, unless you build the firm attitude of destroying it so develop that. fake enthusiasm in your life , the chances are that you will get it very soon for real. Also believe that life is a journey of many ups and down and you will be happy and contented.Recommend

  • sobia

    a very well written informative article….most of us have no idea how deteriorating depression is.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Turbo Lover: And yes, too much depression can cause your heart to stop working also.

    That is nonsense. Please think before you make such comments.Recommend

  • UMER IJAZ

    It is very truly said in the article that this illness has not yet been recognised a serious one in our society. In modern times, there are numerous worries and tensions surrounding us. This disease has majorly affected elders, however, even the youngsters are not safe. There should be a proper campaign at the national level to enlighten people how to take measures to avoid this deleterious mental problem. Recommend

  • Sahrish Ahmad

    Yes, walking and exercising help relieve depression. While walking, same chemicals are produced in the body as found in the anti-depressants. Secondly, you could sit the sufferer down, and chalk out an activity schedule consisting of daily activities. It is more of a time table for the day. The key to it would be to stick to it.

    It is important and beneficial to seek professional help. In addition, as I have mentioned before, be there for those suffering from depression. People suffering from depression can be draining to be around as they are constantly talking about all the negatives in their lives and prone to exhibit anger outburst. It is important to exercise patience.

    Suicidal inclination is also high amongst the depressed. Talk freely about it and take any intention mentioned of ending their lives seriously. Recommend

  • Umair Naseer

    Thanks alot Sahrish for ur valuable advice :)Recommend

  • Umair Naseer

    and yes I would like to add one thing our media has not helped one bit !!!! the culture of breaking news and useless talk shows have created more depressions amongst those who watch news channel with interest unfortunately…..Recommend