Depression. That word. One we hear so frequently that we dismiss it as one of those ‘unfortunate news’ we come across our daily pages we flip through on the papers, turning a blind eye and ear to those who suffer the unthinkable pain in silence, a poison that we all neglect finding a cure for. That syllable we all take for granted, so breezily and insensibly pronouncing how “depressed we are” on the most insignificant things in the passing phases of our lives, oblivious to those who live and breathe the actual battle and nightmare they fight perpetually for unending days and nights.

The world has become an increasingly notorious and unforgiving land, a place full of lies, masks, expectations and judgement of how life should really be for the living. Unrealistic costs to keep up with and increasing social demands tend to render many helpless and defeated. A lost battle, as many would put it, yet struggle to keep on that mask to flutter by each day lifelessly just so that they won’t be an outcast, a “divergent” in the pool of other puppets.

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Picking up this baton together

It’s time we need to acknowledge and pick up the baton of attentiveness that depression is not a mental illness we should turn away from and push it just to the doctors, but it is a bigger battle we should all consciously be a part of together, to fight this and minister in whatever ways we are capable of; big or small. It has become increasingly dangerous and disturbing that cases of depression are detected in the millennials, the younger generation that we raise to become the hope for the future; and it could be just about anyone; from our next-door neighbor, a close friend’s daughter or even our very own grandson that we just exchanged hellos the night before.

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Giving attention to depression

Yes, some do seek medical attention but bear in mind that not everyone is as receptive to the mental trauma of actually physically going to approach a shrink. Whilst some take the initiative to find the last resorts they can in improving their mental health, some shy away and close doors to the thought of seeing a doctor, living in self-denial and succumbing to the thought of being labelled as “crazy”.

For those who seek medical attention, it is common for antidepressants to be prescribed by healthcare professionals. While in theory, these medications work by increasing “positive chemicals” in the brain while inhibiting “negative ones”, it is also known that prescription drugs work only on about a quarter of those who decide to take them. Even worse are the side effects, which, ironically may include even worse depressive symptoms, a strong medicinal dependence, and some eventually resort to suicide. The ultimatum we’d all hope to never hear off, but most unfortunately has become a norm and staple vocabulary of our everyday lives.

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Understanding depression

Depression is not a joke. It is not a lie that one creates for escapism, neither is it a story made up to cover up. Depression is as real as how cancer is, it is as dangerous as death knocking at your doorstep. If you happen to be one of the above or know of someone who is drowning in the depths of that mental battle, or even tried medical intervention and had little success, which is basically; you still feel hopeless and you might feel even worse knowing these drugs did absolutely nothing to help what already is the end of a road and unending boulder in your life; please do not give up searching and seeking. There might not be the best answer for your solutions but hope is that one thing that always prevails and you need to cling on to that. There is help in many forms; you just need to keep seeking earnestly for it until you find a right one which will definitely be there, awaiting you with arms wide open.

Here are some ways that we could all be more aware of, look out for each other and battle this plague together:

1. Get Some Exercise

This one doesn’t come as a surprise. Your friends and doctors have probably told you so, and you’ve probably considered some sort of exercise regime. It is probably going to be as cliché as it can get, but it has been tested and proven. Exercise attacks stress in two ways, according to Matthew Stults-Kolehmainen, Ph.D., a kinesiologist at the Yale Stress Center. He told HuffPost Healthy Living that raising one’s heart rate can actually reverse damage to the brain caused by stressful events, “Stress atrophies the brain — especially the hippocampus, which is responsible for a lot, but memory in particular. When you’re stressed, you forget things.” So start by setting small goals, and increase incrementally as time goes on. The difference reaps you greater happiness that you’ve been looking for in no time.

2. Count Your Blessings

Practice the “three good things” exercise daily and keep a running list throughout. Studies show that seeing the world through the rose lenses of gratitude can boost feelings of life satisfaction and overall well-being. People who keep a gratitude journal are more likely to have better friendships, eat healthier, work out longer, have stronger immune systems, fall asleep faster, and sleep more deeply. We need to make this a conscious habit and this bit of practice will significantly change the outlook of the way we see life. Somehow or rather, the scars and hurts don’t last as long or feel as deep. We can begin to see life more broadly, with more acceptance of ourselves and everything around us. Joy is more likely. We begin to love ourselves, perhaps even other and life itself more.

3. Meditate

The mind is an amazing palace that does wonders, but if only tamed and trained. Proven scientifically as well, meditation can overwhelmingly be one of the most successful ways in combating depression. Believing and having faith in a greater, divine Being that created the Heavens and the Earth provides a sense of security, an inner peace that surpasses all understanding that brings us joy in ways we cannot imagine or fathom into words. Meditation takes our minds off the pain, instead allows us to focus on the greater good and helps us to practice faith, provides hope to the helplessness and fills up the void of the heart and mind.

4. Love More

A profound four letter word that carries so much weight and destruction at the same time. Such a powerful language created as a gift in itself for us to put into action with much wisdom. And especially in such a timely situation, love is the only thing that heals. To love is to show not just compassion and empathy, but to sincerely give selflessly without expecting something in return, to accept someone wholly for not just their strength but all the flaws and imperfections, to know that we are imperfect creatures just as they are and we are unworthy to be judges, and to acknowledge that we are all in this same equal race called Life, that we should be a community to help each other in this race instead of stepping over and trying to climb to the non-existent top. When there is love, there will be hope to a more meaningful and purposeful life.

Don’t give up. Tell yourself that you are more than this, a living victory, a unique individual, worthy and priceless in God’s image. You will not lose the gift of life to the abyss of depression, instead fight to celebrate that very little bit of what’s worth living in your beautiful eyes. To acknowledge, to love, to accept, to forgive and to let go. Here’s to battling depression together.

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