As a doctor, I meet many people from all walks of life. People who either overshare or people who think they’re so educated they can enlighten you on what they think they know about health. And as a doctor, it is also my duty to ensure that persons have the right idea and are well informed about topics that affect us all on a daily basis. People in general take too many liberties, wrongly diagnosing people they haven’t met or themselves. Now I don't claim to know every medical detail as I myself am learning every day but I think its fair to you guys to start clearing up some of the misconceptions- let's learn together. Here's what you owe it to yourself to know and share.
the #1 world disability
For one, let us reflect on the number one disability in the world at the moment. The one that can affect children as young as 3. of course initially, you might have said - that’s easy! Heart disease of course. Diabetes? Oh. That old bugger cancer. Cancer awareness. Stand up to cancer.
No, it’s not cancer. But cancer certainly has its place in this ongoing discussion.
You still haven’t figured it out have you?
That is because depression, much like the people it affects have a blind eye turned to it.
Depression is currently the world’s leading disability according to the World Health Organization (Feb 2017). Women are twice as likely as men to experience it. And you read correctly, it can start from the age of 3.
depression doesn't always fit the sad picture
Not only the heart patients, cancer patients, diabetics, new mothers, lonely senior citizens but also the CEO, principal, doctor, postman, chef, celebrity - they may all have their own reasons why but they all may also be dealing with the same common sadness, guilt, insomnia, appetite loss/gain, loss of interest, thoughts of suicide. You might not even know that they are depressed. They might not even know.
did you say suicide?
Yes. Because there are some who haven’t battled with depression and would look at those with the disease as weak, lazy or even looking for attention haven’t thought of the fact that these people actually need someone to help them. They need to be reminded that life is worth living. What they’re experiencing is in fact a physical neuro-chemical imbalance. It does not define them and there is help to restore their lives available. And the most likely cause of mortality is suicide.
And if you think they die from their concurrent illness for example heart disease, then know that patients with heart disease and depression have three times more the chance of dying from a heart attack than someone without heart disease.
but some people have everything going for them. how could they possibly be depressed?
It has recently been discovered that children can actually also exhibit the same signs as listed above. Usually stemming from insidious emotional abuse, negligence, parents who fight, bullying, war torn country victims and foster kids. The signs are there and parents need to open their eyes to them. If you don’t wish to listen to me, then look at the number of Facebook live suicides and those that occur everyday. Or even worse the opiate epidemic currently sweeping the nation.
Depression is very real, very present and on the rise. Why? Social media popularity contests, parents who are too busy, lifestyle illnesses, losses, disappointments, divorce, sadness..the list goes on and on. We are all human and we all feel. Some of us are more susceptible to mental diseases- which is not synonymous with “crazy” or “mad”. Stigma is one of the largest culprits associated with suicide deaths from this not seeking help, wishing it would go away or religious practices thrown at them by established culture or a non informed family member.
how you can help - let's erase the stigma!
Have you or anyone you know actually been affected by these factors? Have you ever been completely misunderstood or actually did misunderstand while someone went through it? I am pleased that thanks to the interest of people such as Prince William, Prince Harry, Kate Middleton and other prominent members of the entertainment industry people are becoming more vocal about mental health and their silent battles as they realize that more people than we thought are experiencing these on their own.
As I continue this discussion in future posts, I will briefly address common misconceptions associated with eating disorders, autism spectrum disorder, cancer screening and more. If there is anything that you would like me to cover, please comment down below or tweet me @teaandreverie.
It is not just my duty to share knowledge, it is all of ours.