Depression is believed to be the common cold of mental disorders, wherein, a person feels extreme levels of sadness, dejection, and hopelessness. This condition severely hampers a person’s daily functioning in various areas such as their work, relationships, and self-care. It can affect people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic status. Especially due to the pandemic, depression is on a huge rise all over the world. Due to the debilitating nature of depression, it’s imperative that one gets checked from time to time and get’s screened therefore, 8th October is observed as National Depression Screening Day. In various countries, this day marks as the day when free depression screening tests are done. The first depression screening day was observed in the USA in 1991 where schools, military bases, and workplaces were encouraged to seek help. Just as one needs to get tested for heart diseases, diabetes, and other pathological issues, depression screening is necessary to know the severity of your symptoms and further plan an intervention.
There are various reasons why it’s important to spread awareness of depression screening in India. Firstly, clinical depression is a serious medical illness. It not just in one’s mind. It is manifested as symptoms all over one’s body. In India, depression is seen as an attention-seeking behaviour and people face a lot of discrimination and stigma due to it. As a result, a person is less likely to seek help, causing more harm. Secondly, depression can lead to suicide. According to National Crime Reports Bureau (NCRB), India reported 381 suicides daily in 2019 1 . Due to the pandemic, It could be that this rate has exponentially increased. As a result, prevention is the first way to cure. Thirdly, most of the time people with depression don’t take it seriously and assume that it is a ‘normal part of life’. Sometimes, a person is able to cope with their depression through self-management and relaxation techniques. However, other times, depression takes a toll on them and they go into a downward spiral. More importantly, depression can co-occur with other serious conditions and further result in a much more complicated medical diagnosis. It prevents help-seeking behavior. Hence, screening is the first step towards growth and recovery.
There are various ways in which depression can be screened. A psychologist or a psychiatrist first gives you a standardized assessment tool that has various questions. Usually, it takes about half an hour to conduct such psychological tests and they are quick and reliable
measures for a diagnosis. Further, a more extensive assessment is carried out through clinical interviews with the therapist. In those interviews, various questions are asked to detect the incidence, prevalence, and onset of depression. These interviews also help to find out the cause and how it perpetuated. It’s important to note here that screening only shows that there is a presence or absence of depressive symptoms. It requires further evaluation through a mental health professional, especially if one is experiencing symptoms for more than 2 weeks.
The best way to spread awareness about depression screening is through the use of social media. Keeping up to date with our friends and family members and asking them about their feelings is a wonderful way to start a conversation regarding mental health. If you have been facing depression or any other mental illness, sharing your experience is also an empowering way to motivate others to seek help. It leads to hope and develops confidence that help is available in the help-seeker. Addressing myths about depression is very important and discouraging misinformation by calling-out people is also a useful method.
Depression is a challenge, but it is also a fact of life for many people. Raising awareness for depression and getting yourself and your family screened for depression is the first step towards caring for yourself and the people around you. Therefore, if you are feeling overwhelmed, book an appointment with a trusted mental health professional and seek the right help!
- Sharma, K. (2020) The soaring rate of teen suicides: What can we learn?. Times of India. Retrieved From- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/de-stress/the-soaring-rate-of-teen-suicides-what-can-we-learn/articleshow/78032936.cms
- National Today (2020) National Depression Screening Day, October 8.
Retrieved from- https://nationaltoday.com/national-depression-screening-day/