While you may be silently wondering whether you are currently struggling with depression, you’d be surprised to know how many others are invisibly sharing that same boat with you. While some don’t dare to ask for help, depression affects so many of us – but we don’t talk about it.

Even among experts, depression was occasionally labeled as the “common cold of psychopathology”. What at first seems like nothing more than a harmless comparison can be quite offensive at second glance: Struggling with depression is not like tackling a cold: Joylessness, feelings of worthlessness, sometimes even suicidal thoughts are clearly not on the same level as a cold. However, the comparison does draw attention to something interesting: Depression is a very widespread disorder.

The first step in breaking the taboo around mental health is understanding it better. The more we realize how common it is, the easier it will be to stand in this together. In the past year alone, roughly every twelfth person in the US struggled with a depressive episode. Over the span of one’s life that rate doubles! That makes depression one of the most common mental disorders in the world.

Now, we’ve all felt “depressed” before and we’ve all experienced individual symptoms of depression at some point in our lives. In other words, we are human. Sadness is an essential part of the human experience and dealing with loss, disappointment, and sadness is just a part of that deal. However, there are many important differences between sadness and depression.


When certain things cannot be spoken about, those things become bottled up. They do not, however, go away – no matter how hard we try to ignore them into oblivion. While the taboo around depression concerns all of us, there is evidence that suggests it is particularly harmful to the men struggling with depression. Even though women are twice as likely to struggle from depression, it is men who die more from suicide. And, shockingly, between the ages 15 – 24 suicide is the second leading cause of death.

As a society, we should all take responsibility for this together. We need to find a way to give the people suffering silently a way to speak up about these difficulties. No more sweeping these things under the rug! Mental health, and the people struggling with it deserve our full attention.

“Depression” is actually a simplification of the official term “depressive episode”. In a sense, the second term is more hopeful because it indicates that this is a phase. This is not a life-long condition and with the right treatment, this phase will pass again.

So, what’s the problem? People often downplay their experiences, de-legitimize what they are feeling and don’t seek depression help very often. But  a psycho therapeutic treatment can cut the duration of a depressive episode in half! Untreated depressive episodes, on the other hand, can last several months, and in extreme cases, even years.


A depressive episode can be further differentiated into ‘mild’, ‘moderate’, or ‘severe’. The severity of depression depends on the number of core and additional symptoms. Accepting help – depression is treatable!

Unfortunately, many people are still ashamed of their struggles and blame themselves for not being able to cope with their lives.

After all, respecting the taboo only leads to more isolation – which just increases feeling already present in the hearts and minds of those struggling with depression. It’s time to break the chain!


Huma Nawab

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