Explicar la Depresión

Ilustration © Francesc de Diego

I have never written a personal diary in my life. Until relatively recently, I kept everything about my mental health a secret. So why have I only now started to write about depression from my own experience? Why explain my life to the world? What sense can it make to expose myself to the scrutiny of others now that I am feeling better?

The answer to all these doubts, at least for me, is very simple: I do it out of necessity. Sharing my experience with others helps to give sense to what I have experienced. It helps me to believe that what I have learned may be useful for someone else. I know because I have had to live with what it is to go through depression, what it means to be labelled, how it is to survive the storms and most of all, how best to recover.

In addition, I find popular ignorance about depression overwhelming. Outside the world of mental health, the vast majorities of people have never experienced or worked with mental health, know nothing about how it can affect you, what its symptoms are, or, of course, how best to address it. And this ignorance is particularly striking because depression is currently one of the most common pathologies in the world. According to the World Health Organization, there are currently 350 million people suffering from depression, making it the leading cause of disability in the world and the reason behind most of the 800,000 suicides that occur each year.

Perhaps those who are interested in these issues could point out to me that in recent years, depression has started to appear on the public agenda and on health policies. This is true, but the main reason for this has nothing to do with our health or quality of life, but more to do with its economic impact. Studies show that mental health problems are costing between 3% and 4% of EU GDP. This is of concern for States and for their health policies and yet these figures, and what they mean to the statisticians, are still unknown to the general population.

And ignorance is not innocuous. In the field of mental health, not knowing what is going to happen to you, what to expect from life once you receive the diagnosis, not being understood or even being rejected by others, are the factors which cause you to suffer even more than the actual symptoms themselves and this is what makes recovery so very difficult.

So how can something as common as depression or mental disorder be so little understood by the general population? Because in our society we still don’t like to speak of these issues, we speak badly about them and that’s why I want to share my experience. Perhaps the few words I write from this Blog can serve in some small way to modify this situation.

Hernán Sampietro