In light of the recent events with the Germanwings Flight 9525 plane crash caused by co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, I would like to draw your attention once again to a deadly and underrated disease, depression.
Depression is one of many mental illnesses, which causes intense feelings of sadness, anxiety and low self esteem as well as other symptoms. Suicide, which can be caused by depression, is ranked by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention as one of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States alone. According to Healthline.com at least 121 people around the world suffer from the illness and that number is just from cases that have been reported.
Once again depression has struck, taking not just one casualty, but a group of one hundred fifty passengers and two pilots. And much like similar events of this nature, traces of the illness in the suspect were not brought into light until after the fact. Because of Lufthansa’s negligence on the severity of Lubitz’ illness, despite the multiple red flags, numerous lives were cast away and loved ones were lost forever.
Despite its heavy death toll, depression is still for some unknown reason to mankind, considered a taboo topic.
It is frustrating to no end to see how disregarded the mental illness can be and the consequences that follow it. If people would take the time to educate themselves instead of deciding to remain ignorant, events like these, including the recent shootings and killing sprees in the past ten years, would be less frequent. Employers need to be aware and supportive. Friends and family need to be understanding and not estranged. There is only so much help that doctors and therapists can offer when the people closest to the victim fail to recognize the illness.
Instead of getting leave from work and the proper attention to his illness, which obviously called for hospitalization, Andreas Lubitz is now just another name up there with Seung-Hui Cho, James Eagan Holmes and Christopher Dorner. And like the late Dorner, who even openly admitted that he suffered from severe depression, Lubitz’ actions and mental state were not taken seriously by his employer.
Maybe the reason that people don’t understand depression is because it is so inconsistent. There are many different forms and severities of depression as well many different personality types that make it hard to detect in other people. The world was shocked to learn about the suicide of Robin Williams because he was arguably one of the funniest men alive. Fans never saw the other side to him that struggled with anxiety and depression and therefore never suspected it.
This is because — surprise — not everyone who is sick is going to show it. Just like any other illness on the planet, not all symptoms are apparent.
This is a common misconception for people with depression. When an outsider looking in tries to picture a person with the illness, he or she often visualizes somebody who is constantly down in the dumps, with their head hanging low and twitchy, raggedy clothed and isolated from society with their My Chemical Romance music.
This is not only highly offensive but also severely inaccurate. In fact, many people who suffer from depression don’t show any outward symptoms at all. Because of its taboo nature, many of those who suffer don’t like to talk about their depression outside of the doctor’s office because they fear how they will be treated. Like other illnesses, victims often feel ashamed about revealing their depression and are afraid of appearing weak.
This is because it isn’t talked about and treated like a real illness. Hurtful comments like “The doctors just want you to think you’re depressed,” “You’re not even trying to be happy,” “Can’t you just try not being depressed?” are the exact reason why depressed people keep their feelings bottled inside.
So instead of saying ignorant jargon like stated above, how about asking someone about how he or she is doing today or what you can do to help. Offer to just sit there and listen to them. And if it seems like that person needs more help than you can provide, help them along the road to recovery as they seek treatment and stay there for the long run.
Knowing someone with depression is just as hard and crippling as dealing with a loved one with cancer and heart disease. It is hard and frustrating to watch that person struggle but at the same time that person needs you to be involved in their life.