World Mental Health Day, observed on 10 October each year, aims to raise awareness of mental health problems and their major effects on peoples’ life worldwide. This year, the World Federation for Mental Health is focusing the WMHD campaign on ‘young people and mental health in a changing world. The theme focuses on youth and young adults and the mental health issues that they are facing in our world today. Health experts say youngsters or the millennials are facing an epidemic of psychological burden. WHO data shows that an estimated 10-20% of adolescents across the world experience mental health conditions, and depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among the youth. Yet these remain underdiagnosed and undertreated. In this regard, we talked to Dr Era Dutta, (MD Psychiatry, DNB Psych, MBBS), Consultant Neuropsychiatrist & Therapist, Mind Wellness & Fortis Healthcare, Kolkata. Read on to learn more about depression and how it affects young people in today’s world. What causes depression in young people? Depression can happen to anyone, however, young people are quite vulnerable to depression. Depression occurs due to biological, psychological and social factors. In youngsters, the changing hormones, the neurochemical imbalance (low sertonin) and influence of drugs can cause depression. Similarly the personality development is still occurring at this age which may lead to being depressed easily. Finally, the influence of external factors like failure in exams, failed relationships, parental expectations and career also constantly impacts the scenario in young. What are the signs and symptoms of clinical depression? We must know that low mood and depression are different. We all feel low from time to time. This is absolutely normal. After all, life is ‘kabhi khushi kabhi gum’ right? You can’t be happy all the time. Read - World Mental Health Day 2018: Shatter these myths and learn these 5 facts about mental illness Clinical depression, also called major depressive disorder, occurs when an individual for more than 15 days most of the time has a combination of these symptoms: Low mood (could also present as anger and irritability) Low energy Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities Helplessness, hopelessness and guilt Changes in appetite (too much or too little) Changes in sleep pattern (erratic, or too much or too little) Suicidal ideas or attempt Wanting to stay isolated Lack of concentration, Lack of sexual desire Does depression increase the risk for suicide? Absolutely. Amidst the causes of suicide and suicidal attempts, depression ranks number one. Read - High suicide rate among women in India: 7 common risk factors and how India sees mental health How is depression different from bipolar disorder? Think of Depression as ONE pole. The word Bipolar literally means TWO poles. One of the poles will be depression while other would be mania. I sometimes call bipolar disorder extreme version of ‘Kabhi khushi khabhi gum’, extreme mood swings, etc. However, mania (and hypomania) is the exact opposite of depression. Over a week a person may present with elated or irritable mood along with decreased need for sleep. The person may also make grandiose or impressive plans, show sexual indiscretion and inappropriate behaviour. How can I help a depressed person? In many ways. It all starts with TALKING WITHOUT A JUDGEMENT. Talk to a person who appears to be behaving out of the ordinary or has suddenly become isolated. It is a tough task but be patient. Breach the topic delicately without using labels. Do not use examples such as “If I can overcome hardships then you surely can,” or “Look at so and so person, they had it worse and overcame it”, “ou are just seeking attention”, or “Be positive, its all in your head”. Absolutely refrain from such comments. Try to engage them in routine. Keep them safe. If you are unable to get through to them, seek professional help of a mental health expert.
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