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Is Depression a “Serious” Mental Health Illness?

Recently someone asked How do you know if someone is only suffering from depression and not from any serious mental illness? The question was misinformed that I wrote about it in detail and in today’s video, we’ll talk about it. We’ll understand what depression is, the triggers, and a whole lot of it for which you must watch this video in full. Hi, my name is Linda Ashok and you are watching MusterMynd.

So, the question assumes Depression as a “not serious” mental health issue that prompted me to assume the bearer of the question could be referring to Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorders, or people with cognitive disorders.

While there are mental health conditions that are more manageable than others because there has been more research and development in those disease conditions resulting in psychotropics and non-medicinal interventions, that doesn’t take away from the seriousness of Depression as a mental health condition.

Now let’s understand depression holistically. Depression is a state of our brain in which there is a fall in communication between major neurons or neurotransmitters. This manifests in how a person behaves and communicates in unpredictable ways. What is serious? Do you know that a person with  depression can amputate a body part on a whim or be totally camouflaging with routine life without any visible aberration in their behavior or actions? People in depression succumb to suicide, self harm, or antisocial behavior. They might be in an all time riot with the self or just so withdrawn from everything.  I don’t know who is comparing depression to any other mental health issue calling it less serious to others.

Talking about neurotransmitters, there are 100s of neurotransmitters and the ones that operate in abundance are Glutamate and GABA followed by Serotonin, Norepinephrine. In the beginning Serotonin and Norepinephrine led to the development of SSRI and SNRI, which is why you are given SSRIs and SNRIs as antidepressants. But current researchers figured that of 100s of neurotransmitters, just Serotonin and Norepinephrine can’t be responsible and advancement is necessary and that led to new discoveries of Glutamate and GABA that heavily control our mood and emotions. 

So far we just discussed the biology part. Before we move to the potential causes, let’s discuss the other factors causing depression because times have changed and now it is Depression is no longer only biological or genetic, depression is also caused by nature, society, and a person’s own behavior & circumstances. These all are scientifically researched triggers. Interesting isn’t it? So let’s get into each of these triggers.

Nature: Nature plays a significant role in our mental well-being. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. It begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months. Lack of sunlight, vitamin D deficiencies, and the body’s internal clock can all play a role in this.

Society: The societal pressures and the constant need to fit into certain standards can be overwhelming. Bullying, peer pressure, unrealistic beauty standards, and the constant comparison through social media platforms can lead to feelings of inadequacy and isolation. The stigma attached to mental health in many societies can further exacerbate feelings of shame and reluctance to seek help.

Person’s Own Behavior: Our own behaviors, habits, and choices can also contribute to depression. Substance abuse, lack of physical activity, poor diet, and not getting enough sleep can all play a role. Additionally, how one copes with stress, trauma, or significant life changes can also influence the onset of depressive symptoms.

Circumstances: Life events such as the death of a loved one, a breakup, financial hardships, or ongoing challenges in personal and professional life can trigger depression. It’s essential to understand that sometimes, depression can be situational. However, even situational depression can become severe if not addressed.

Now that we understand the anatomy and triggers of depression, it will be easy for you, albeit difficult to ascertain what actually caused a person’s depression. Some people think that there is nothing called depression. It is just an excuse. Some people think it might be something, but blown out of proportion. But you have to know what we already discussed; it is a serious mental health condition with variable features, making it difficult to cure. Depression is treatable but it is what it is, it has to be managed through medication and counseling.

While medication is definitely an option but as a person with depression, I can tell you that antidepressants do not work for all the people the same way because psychiatry is non definitive unlike other physical disorders. It is just as absurd as why everyone on this planet is not kind to each other but some are. It also depends on the nature of the trigger that determines if antidepressants can solve it or one needs counseling from licensed therapists or just more love, more care, more support from their immediate surroundings

Some people are just unfortunate. They come with a genetic predisposition for depression to take root caused by say a job loss, triggered by a nasty neighbor, during short monsoon days. What will you fix here? Top it up, their constant exposure to misfortunes affected their behavior too and they see no solution?

In wrapping up, it’s crucial to understand that depression is multifaceted. It’s not just about feeling sad; it’s a complex interplay of biological, environmental, and personal factors. No mental health issue, including depression, should be trivialized or compared in severity to another. Every individual’s experience is unique, and every struggle is valid. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you or someone you know is going through a tough time, reach out, talk, and most importantly, listen. And just before you go, smash that Subscribe button, okay?


Linda Ashok

Linda Ashok is an India English Poet & Polymath. She is a mental health advocate studying Psychology from IGNOU'25.