“I am so depressed!” Not a day of mine has passed by without having heard at least one person uttering those very same words. During my days as a high school student I assumed that all the sad people who said they were depressed were indeed feeling so. It was only at the age of eighteen when I attended my first abnormal psychology lecture did I realize that depression is so much more than merely feeling blue. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) “depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living”. It is characterized by disproportionate reactions to distressing situations like loss of a loved one, the end of a meaningful relationship, an occupational or academic failure or a financial setback. It is very normal to feel sad when life knocks us down in unexpected ways e.g. a young person with a failed relationship is most often able to live life normally as time passes and the painful memories of the past have become hazy upon the introduction of new hobbies and interests in his/her life. It is only when this sadness doesn’t go away after a period of over 6 months, increases with time and instills strong feelings of worthlessness to the extent of being detrimental to one’s personal and social life can a person be actually termed as being depressed. A depressed individual often fails to take care of his/her appearance a case of which was recently reported in the news wherein a teenage girl had not combed her hair or maintained herself physically for a period of one year due to feelings of extreme worthlessness. Depression can take over an individual’s life to the extent where s/he just sits around in despair analyzing and ruminating over the dark side of life all alone and at times even contemplating suicide. Psychologically speaking ruminating is the same as picking at a physical scab/scratch to make the wound deeper and harder to heal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has been observing its yearlong campaign of “Depression: let’s talk” and on April 7th, World Health Day said that “depression is often overlooked and it is estimated that over 300 million people are living with curable forms of clinical depression.” With such an alarming number of depressed people in the world it is important to act upon it ASAP.
Who is more prone to feeling depressed?
According to eminent public health researcher Dr. Shahram Heshmat barring a very small percentage of people who are biologically prone to depression on account of elevated levels of certain chemicals in their brains, depression is the product of faulty thinking patterns, learned helplessness, lack of motivation (both intrinsic as well as extrinsic), pursuing unattainable goals, poor problem solving ability and poverty.
So in order to combat these issues, it is important to become emotionally resilient. In her book “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” Amy Morin talks about the importance of developing healthy habits to prevent depression from rearing its ugly head when we lack the energy to grab life by the horns. These preventative measures are helpful for people of all ages, including parents of young children. Just as vaccinations are administered at a young age, inculcating certain measures/habits to enhance mental strength at a tender age will go a long way in keeping depression at bay. So here’s what emotionally resilient people don’t do:
- They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves: So this means, no hosting a pity party and going on a “poor-me” mental trip when life doesn’t go your way. One should be responsible about one’s own life and acknowledge the fact that life is not always going to take a turn in one’s own favor.
- They don’t give away their power: Our happiness lies in our own hands. No one else should be given power over ourselves to affect our emotions. A mentally strong woman will not say “oh, my mother in law gives me so much grief!” she will instead understand that certain appropriate responses from her side would not allow her mother in law’s taunts to emotionally bog her down.
- They don’t shy away from change: The only thing constant in life is change. Human beings are highly resistant to change. People should instead welcome change positively and be willing to be flexible. One must believe in themselves to adapt to any situation that comes their way and avoid ruminating over why such a change has come their way.
- They don’t waste time and energy on things they can’t control: A mentally strong person seldom complains about things like being diagnosed with a health condition such as diabetes or bad weather conditions. S/he instead focuses on what can be controlled and at times also realizes that the only thing that can be controlled is one’s own attitude.
- They don’t try to please everyone: Trying to please everyone all the time is one of the most physically and mentally exhausting tasks ever. People run themselves ragged trying to please others. Although it’s important to please people, it is not important to do so all of the time. One should not be afraid to speak one’s mind, but must decipher to disagree in a way so as to not upset other people.
- They don’t fear taking calculated risks: Next to change, humans are most averse to risk taking. Risk taking is considered a reckless and foolish activity. However not putting all your eggs in the same basket always pays off in the end. One must spend time carefully weighing all pros and cons of a decision, so as to be fully informed of the potential benefits as well as the downsides before taking action. Rather than constantly whining about one’s unsatisfactory present job, if one takes a calculated risk to pursue his/her own interests then it would certainly pay off in the near future.
- They don’t dwell on the past: The question “if I had studied in a better college, I may have had a better job today” is absent in a mentally strong person’s mind. One should acknowledge the past and always think about what can be done in the present scenario to make the future better. Constantly reliving bad experiences and fantasizing one’s days of glory would be sure to send one on an all-expense paid trip to depression-ville.
- They don’t repeat their mistakes: Lessons should be learnt from one’s past mistakes and not repeated. One should also take responsibility of one’s mistakes and not deny them upon being confronted. It is the first step towards leading a more fulfilling life.
- They don’t resent other people’s success: A young child should always be taught to appreciate and celebrate people’s achievements. Constant comparisons and pressure to emulate instills low self-esteem and thereby when no substantial success is achieved, one grows jealous and starts resenting others. This is highly detrimental to one’s own personal growth. One must realize that anyone who works hard and seizes certain opportunities (however painful in the beginning) at the right time always has a shot at success. After all “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”.
- They don’t give up after the first failure: Failing in a particular subject for example should never be viewed as a reason to give up. Instead it should be viewed as an opportunity to try out newer ways to succeed and one must always be ready to make a sincere effort to succeed. Only a couple of failed tries should deter someone from their path. The attitude to have here is that of Thomas Alva Edison “I have not failed at making a light bulb; I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work!”
- They don’t fear alone time: Companionship is a gift, but at times it can be a pain. Being in the company of others may not all always do us good. This is seen in the case of negative peer pressure. One shouldn’t constantly find the need to surround oneself with people out of fear of being alone. Downtime should be used to introspect and performing productive activities. One must be equipped with the fact that their happiness and entertainment is not dependent on others for every second of everyday of one’s life.
- They don’t feel the world owes them anything: One should not feel entitled to things in life. One should look for opportunities based on their own merits. This is the key to mental peace.
- They don’t expect immediate results: Patience is the key! Staying calm while waiting for results is an even bigger virtue. Whether one is trying to improve academic grades, health or set up a new business one must always focus on applying one’s skills and time to the best of one’s abilities and understand that real success takes time to achieve. Also, one must learn to savor the small joys of life.
I would like to add two extra points here.
- They are always grateful: A mentally strong person is always grateful for everything s/he is blessed with or has acquired. Gratitude goes a long way in ensuring that one doesn’t have unreasonable expectations or try to pursue unattainable goals.
- They always acknowledge their limitations: We are only human. All of us are born with certain strengths and weakness. It is more important to enhance our strengths than work on our weaknesses. For example if a student is good at English and average at mathematics, then more time must be spent to improve English skills than on trying to score a perfect 100 in mathematics. It is also important to understand that while weaknesses cannot be overcome completely but strengths can certainly be used to play up to one’s favor in the long run.
So with these preventative measures array, let’s hope to keep depression away. Have a depression free day! Grok on!
Did we miss out some points? What do you want us to cover in the blog posts to come?please let us know in the comments below.
further reading: http://amzn.to/2g2DVmu