Updated: May 16
"I’ve got 10,000 friends online who know everything about my life. My birthday, how I celebrated them, where I went for my vacation, and what are the happy moments of my life. The joys of my life are all online. But when I’m sad and depressed, I don’t want to put it online. Maybe because I don’t want my “friends” to know anything is wrong with my life. Because I want my life to be perfect for everyone else. Also how many friends online will really help me when I need them the most? I have to deal with myself most of the time so they don't have to know anyway."
These are the words of a friend who is being treated for extreme mood swings and depression.
Social media is said to have a negative influence on our well being, primarily depression and loneliness. One study was published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology confirms this.
We don't talk about it as much as we talk about other diseases but depression is creeping steadily into our lives. It seems that almost 300 million people worldwide are suffering from depression and most of them are in India (10+ million cases)
Researching the causes, I found out that clinical depression or extreme cases of depression is caused by changes in neural circuit activity in our brain.
Which brings me to the question on my mind - How do I recognise if I’m susceptible to depression? And what can I do to prevent it?
I've learned that depression could be a result of events or experiences and continuing difficulties such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, long-term isolation or loneliness, prolonged work stress to name a few.
Fair enough. But I found the premise of depression, to my understanding, lies on two major feelings - Blame & Guilt
When things don’t go the way we want them to.. then we tend to blame someone or something. Blame is when you basically detach yourself and externalise the responsibility.
Guilt works the other way. You’re internalising the responsibility
The way these two play on your mental health is amazing.
When you externalise it, blame others then you tend to feel the world has failed you. This is when you set expectations from others and get irritated if not met.
When you internalise it, you’re blaming yourself for everything, even when it's not in your control.
I've understood that Depression sets in when you’re experiencing either of these emotions (or combination of them) for a prolonged period.
However, no matter what the cause is, there are always remedies to overcome. So in order for you to prevent getting into depressive feelings, here’s something you can try.
Find ways to manage your stress. Stress has a direct bearing on depression and I have a playlist on this already so won’t elaborate more
Take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, and exercise regularly. Feeling healthy physically automatically influences your mental health
Stay calm. Meditate, deep breath, say your prayers - whatever works for you. Try to stay as calm as possible.
Stay connected. Take time out for your family and friends. We need human interaction so ensure you’re in touch with all your friends and not just online. Pick up the phone and talk to them.
Trust yourself and your decisions. Don't let the guilt take over your life. The more you learn to trust yourself, the easier it becomes for you to relax into life.
Be mindful of what you think and feel. And by this I mean, notice if you’re feeling angry or irritated or sad, notice mood swings and how long have you been having them. Like I always say, only when you know, can you do something about it.
Get help even if you remotely think you’re depressed. If you wait, it could get worse.
Simple things aren't they? But if we do just this much, we will be able to prevent ourselves from getting into the deep dark world of depression.
There isn't anybody out there who doesn't have a mental health issue, whether it's depression, anxiety, or how to cope with relationships. Just know that there is help and your life could be better if you go out and seek help. ~ Howie Mandel
Depression affects all of us. If we increasingly isolate ourselves from reality, it will be harder for us to avoid depression. Prevent it when you can.