Depression is often confused as a mere feeling of being sad, but most people who suffer from depression feel more than just a persistent sadness. In fact, the feelings are so muddled that many fail to recognise what depression looks like. The symptoms are not as obvious as breaking into hives or an arm in a cast. It manifests in more subtle ways like losing interest in things that otherwise brought us joy, or a loss of appetite, a reluctance to meet the friends and people we once held dear to us. In depression, sad feelings become chronic, overwhelming, and long-lasting, it affects how we think, feel, and interpret the events and situations that play out in our lives.
In 2014, actor and celebrity Deepika Padukone came out in an interview and narrated her experience with depression. She experienced inexplicable pain, the crushing sense of loneliness and breakdowns as a result of her constant anxiety. She would go on about her day, posing for cameras, getting interviewed and signing autographs. However, what nobody saw was that she didn’t feel like herself, she felt different somehow, and on some days even getting out of bed was a struggle. Depression can last for weeks, months, sometimes even longer, and while it is difficult for people with depression to recognise it, it is almost imperceptible to those around them. Here are some signs that you could look out for:
What you might feel -
“I became very numb to the world around me and became ambivalent about every aspect of my life. My mood began to spiral downwards and unlike the natural patterns of it improving over time, it seemed to either stay that way or deteriorate further.” - Shreya, 19 years
Young adults often feel irritable, sad and stressed most of the time. They might get more angry than usual and feel restless, unable to relax or stop thinking about what is in their minds. Adding to it could be other pressures which are experienced during this phase like having an identity, fit into college, make friends and build new, possible romantic relationships. Other feelings that you might experience include feeling guilty, worthless, frustrated, unhappy, indecisive, disappointed and miserable.
What you might think -
“I withdrew from my family and friends and found myself frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, anxious and really sad. I just couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t care anymore about my school work or other interests.” - Rishabh, 19 years
“My relationship with my parents deteriorated as we fought more and more. My siblings, with whom I used to be so close, now asked me “where the old Kavya was”. I snapped at the ones that I loved and it took all my energy just to get through the day. Eventually, I confessed to my friends the feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts.” - Mamtha, 21 years
Experiencing negative thoughts about yourself, the people around you or your home environments like Shreya and Rishabh did is common during adolescence and youth. It is an age fraught with physical and mental changes and challenges that are understood as teenage rebellion or mood swings. If one is suffering from depression, it is also common to worry about failure or disappointment and to imagine that nothing good will ever happen. For many these intense feelings leave them thinking that life is not worth living.
What you might do -
“I have always been a quiet kid, so when I started retreating into myself during my 10th grade, it seemed like no one noticed. I got two to four hours of sleep a night, lost my appetite, felt worthless, and began to lose interest in everything—classes and friends. As time went on, I became more and more convinced that this was just how I was. I would think about asking for help and then be afraid of being a burden on my friends and family—constantly reinforcing the idea that they did not want me around. I woke up every morning crying and dragged myself out of bed, feeling like I was carrying around something heavy.” - Kavya, 21 years
While suffering from depression our priorities like college, work, university, family and even hanging out with friends, take a backseat. We either sleep too much or sleep too little, we eat too much or have no appetite at all.
There’s absolutely no shame if you think you suffer from depression. Hiding it, being angry, and thinking that it is a sign of weakness or a character flaw is not the solution. In depression, acceptance is the first step on the road to recovery. Depression doesn’t discriminate; it can happen to anybody, at any point in their lives, add it manifests and looks different in different people. The important thing is to be aware, recognise it, reach out for support or seek professional help as soon as possible.