Drastic changes in daily life over the past century are fueling the growing burden of chronic diseases and disrupting mental health. So, depression is rising. Nearly half of people living with depression live in the regions such as Southeast Asia and Western Pacific. The total estimated number of people living with depression worldwide increased by 18.4 per cent between 2005 and 2015 to 322 million, according to the latest report on depression and anxiety, issued this week by the World Health Organisation.
Amid the pandemic situation, very few are concerned about the widespread of depression and have no urge to combat it. The rise of depression is no less than a pandemic itself.
Depression doesn’t know any age, race, or background. It is triggered by different life circumstances and events, such as living in poverty, being unemployed, surviving the death of a loved one, having persistent physical illness, and alcohol and drug dependence.
However, the depression faced by Gen Z is a little complicated and the reasons are pretty unconventional.
Generation Z or simply Gen Z refers to the generation that was born between 1996-2010, following millennials. They are the newest generation and their ages range between 11 to 24 years. The world roughly contains 72 million people of this generation and they are also victims of depression.
There is a causal link between the use of social media and negative effects on well-being, primarily depression and loneliness among the young generation. Depression has been led by the unrealistic lifestyle and beauty standards set by social media which triggers the users to make an abnormal comparison with their own lives. Also, the connections social media users form electronically are less emotionally satisfying, leaving them feeling socially isolated.
A study by the National Library of Medicine reveals that teenage and adult users who spend the most time on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms were shown to have a substantially (from 13 to 66 per cent) higher rate of reported depression than those who spent the least time.
There are also other significant reasons why these youths might become depressed. For example, they tend to develop feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy over their grades. School performance, social status with peers, sexual orientation, or family life can each have a major effect on how they feel. Sometimes, teen depression may result from environmental stress. But whatever the cause, when friends or family or things that they usually enjoy don't help to improve their sadness or sense of isolation, there's a good chance that they develop severe medical depression.
Muntaha (single name used to hide identity), a third-year student of Independent University of Bangladesh, shares her journey of overcoming depression with this author. “I don’t know what I have gone through was a medical condition or not, but I can vouch that it was painful and it needed treatment. I remember days after days I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I felt fatigued all the time. Being an introvert, I could barely share anything with anyone and I think that is the worst part.” She believes depression tends to leave a long-term effect on the sufferer. “I am doing much better now as I have made it through that phase but there are some collateral damages. I have severe trust issues at this point. I agonise myself before trusting anyone and most of the time I am not even able to trust. Everything seems so fake and vague,” she adds.
Depression is destructive and most of the time contagious. It ruins individuals, families and even societies. So it’s important we address depression properly, without seeing it as a taboo.