April 7th is World Health Day. This year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen to bring awareness to one specific mental illness that is widespread around the globe: depression. Depression is a very common mental illness portrayed through ongoing sadness and a loss of interest in daily activities for a duration of 14 days or longer. Mental illness in Egypt is often stigmatized, and misunderstood which results in a general mistreatment of people who suffer from it. Lack of support and general cultural taboos can prevent many people from speaking up, reaching out and getting the treatment they need. According to studies by WHO, more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18% between 2005 and 2015.
Signs to look out for if you suspect someone is suffering from depression;
The problem in Egypt is that the way we “talk” to people with depression can actually be doing them more harm then good. How many times do we hear people advising others to “stop crying” and “get over it”? We talked to a psychologist in Egypt, Nada Motawe, to understand what should and shouldn’t be done or said by Egyptians when dealing with someone who is clinically depressed.
First, to understand why depression is a vital issue, we need to understand the health risks associated with depression;
How To Deal With People Who Suffer From Depression (From A Psychologist’s Point-Of-View)
- Never ever assume that everyone deals with things in the same way. If someone with depression is complaining of a problem you don’t understand (or don’t think it’s actually an issue) listen, do not make them feel small or worse by downplaying their problem. All they need is someone to listen and care. Even if you don’t have anything to say, just saying, “don’t worry, everything will be fine.” This will reassure them.
- “Thank God for the situation you’re in” (ehmedy rabena aal enty fee). The situation depressed people are in is pretty dark. Before telling them their life is good and being depressed doesn’t make sense, reconsider the effects of your words. Understand that in the eyes of someone depressed they are at rock bottom, to make them feel like there is still good in life, try saying something like “you are not alone, many people go through this. It shall pass.”
- “Stop being so depressed ” (Kefaya kaaba)
This is the worst thing you can say. Depression is not a choice. Nor is it something you can simply snap out of. It is a mental illness that needs to be properly treated before it results in an even bigger problem. They can’t control how they react, so don’t make them feel helpless by demanding they feel better. A better phrase is “I understand that this is upsetting for you, but try to think of something better.”
If you ever make someone feel like they’re wrong for feeling upset you make them feel alone. They stop speaking up. Their depression becomes worse. A simple act of letting it out and getting it off your chest is enough to make them feel better. Listen, care and try your best not to put down someone who is already suffering a silent battle.
Photo Credit: Therapy Tribe