Have you ever had a depressive phase that it consumed you? So big that it made you crawl into bed with heartache, rejection, disappointment, and frustration. When you’d been disregarded and dismissed on many occasions. When you needed assistance the most and you heard people say, “hey relax, it’s all in your head.” The trajectory of your life sure gets changed with these words and goes back to square one.

The Numb Feeling

We often hear people say, “Depression houta kya hai akhir, aese thori har baat per depression houjata hai!” (“What is depression really, how can people even get depressed on every minor inconvenience!”) Depressed people don’t all shuffle around with long faces, or cry at any provocation. It really defines as losing interest in important parts of life. When you feel numb and empty all the time. And these aren’t just all in your head.

With the thought lingering in my mind along with my robotic 9 to 5 routine, as a breather I got the chance to sit down with Wajeeha Ghani, a Professional Psychologist and Addiction Therapist with an intention to find out more about Depression.

Depression with Judgment!

I broke the silence with a thought provoking question about depression being a condition which is in your head, to which she said, “It is definitely a judgemental statement. Depression is a disease, a disorder. People are suffering from it on an everyday basis now. Saying it a thing which is in your head is completely wrong.”

A chronological fact about depression is how one can detect and reject the thought of having it over and over again. I became sad to know that people in general don’t understand that depression is one of the deadliest forms of any illness. Wajiha further added that, “Mental health is also a part of your whole health, this needs to be spread around.”

The Physical Affects

When I asked her about the physical changes a human body gets with depression, she focused her shift on how past traumas affect the brain and deteriorates the physical wellbeing. “A mentally ill mind can’t be physically fit. No one can move on from their past traumas without help. Physical changes are evident if someone is dealing with it. Imagine a simple headache or an upset stomach can be an undetected symptom of depression.”

Her method of therapy is what intrigued me the most throughout my conversation with her, “Both past and present are on the table when I start my therapy session with a patient,” She sighed and continued, “And it is not easy. It is very hard for people to open up in general. And people are made of their past experiences and it can’t be eliminated during therapy.”

She navigated me through how a depressive person comes to me with two extremes, “Either they feel super hungry or they don’t have any appetite at all. Either they would be underweight or be overweight. And in most cases they would be lethargic or over-energetic. These two extremes can be difficult for them to diagnose, because for them this is normal.” She reiterated, “And these symptoms are not in someone’s head, I see these signs of depression affecting their physical wellbeing, they mask them.” I wondered as she spoke that even I see a lot of people who mask their feelings under the impression that they are happy, but still struggling.

The Declination of Self Care

Wajiha let me in on another concern, “Self-care hits the lowest in depression and anxiety, and it’s not just related to chronically depressed patients, but people with borderline depression as well.” Are any funds provided by the government ever sufficient? Including any patronages from International Organizations I asked, “Here comes the good part, some of the local and international organizations do aid the people financially who are in need for clinical support, and this is not only limited to people dealing with depression or anxiety, drug addicts and street kids are also getting rehabilitated by many governmental organizations.”

She concluded with “It is important to detect early signs for your depression, if you feel the symptoms, always reach out to the people who are close to you. It can be anyone, either friends or family. Mental health professionals help in a very professional way, the early signs can be detected when you agree to help yourself.” She also stressed on lifestyle changes, “Challenging negative thoughts and changing your lifestyle on an initial level can be a life changing aspect.”

The concept of depression, anxiety and mental health should be formally introduced in our higher level academics, since this will facilitate a whole generation of youngsters to detect and understand their own symptoms at early stages or discuss with a friend or a family member.

Wajeeha Ghani currently works at Aas Trust’s Executive and Recovery Centre, Karachi. Her method of treatment specializes in drugs addicts and street children.