Depression: An Underappreciated, Underdiagnosed Problem

If you had asked me even three years ago, I would have said, “If you’re depressed, just get up, dust yourself off, and think positively.” After all, haven’t we all been sad at some point in our lives? And haven’t we all just had to suck it up and move on because there was so much to be done? I was as underinformed as I now realize a large part of the world also is. This was till I experienced what depression can do for myself. It was my own experience that led me to learn more about the condition. This was when I discovered that 20% of all women and 12% of all men experience depression at some point in their life, although the condition is among the most underdiagnosed ones, according to Pharmacy Times.

An Insidious Guest

It was 2014, I had given birth to my first child, a daughter, in April. She was barely six months old when I realized that my husband was cheating on me. He had become distant since the birth. Initially, of course, he was very involved as a father and for all of one month, wanted to participate in everything that we had to do for the baby. I didn’t even realize it but slowly his involvement diminished to a point where I realized that he was coming home later and later at night and hadn’t even seen his daughter awake for weeks.

On being questioned, my husband said that there was some project at work that needed to be completed and so he was likely to work late for some more time. Then there was a business tour, some office gathering over the weekends and more. I was so preoccupied trying to look after my little baby and make sure the home was up and running that I didn’t really think all these things were a signal of something bigger.

Over time, I realized that I was feeling more and more tired each day. It was difficult to get out of bed. The only reason I did rise was because I knew that my child needed me. I lost my appetite, started avoiding phone calls from friends and by about September, I had stopped leaving the house at all, if I could help it. At that time, I didn’t know that what I was going through was the beginnings of depression.

The Guest Makes Itself Apparent

It was sometime in mid-October 2014 that I accidentally overheard my husband on the phone with someone else. It was his tone that made me stop and listen. This was when I realized that something more than work was happening when he was away from home. It took me a few days and some snooping on his phone while he was asleep (something I am not proud of but I had no other way to confirm my suspicions) to finally gather up the courage to confront my husband.

Surprisingly, he did not deny or argue. He simply said that he needed a break and that having a child and being bound was overwhelming him! I was furious. And then he went on to blame the affair on my anger! Unfortunately, given my state of mind at that time, I took everything in and started believing that it was my shortcomings that had pushed my husband into the arms of another woman. I became so certain that I had not only ruined my marriage and robbed my daughter of a father, that I even started to think whether my baby would be better off without me in her life.

What I didn’t know at that time was that there were different types of depression. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified depression into five basic types, ranging from a depressive episode that can last for at least two weeks to recurrent depression, dysthymic disorder, adjustment disorder and bipolar mood disorder.

Getting the Guest to Leave

I am very fortunate to have very good friends, who realizing that something was wrong, decided to visit me. My closest friend, whom I had known since high school, came over and just wouldn’t leave till I told her what had been happening with me. She was the one who identified my condition as depression and pushed me to seek help. While I was feeling very stressed and under a lot of pressure at that time, looking back, I can say that it was possibly the best thing that could have happened to me at that time.

She took me to see Linda Charnes, a licensed psychotherapist in New York City, who not only offered individual therapy but also specialized in marriage and couples therapy. What Linda told me was that if I was facing a situation that made me feel overwhelmed, stressed, or unable to cope, if I had been unhappy for more than two weeks and was experiencing low self-esteem, it was important to seek professional counseling.

I worked with my therapist for three months before I could even think of marriage counseling. However, I realized even before we started that it was a lost cause. The reason for the extramarital affair did not matter, just the fact that it had occurred was enough. I felt stronger to face life, even if it was on my own. I felt more able to care for my daughter and to step out and look for a job.

It has been more than two years since that experience. I have been living with my daughter, who is just starting preschool. I feel strong, capable and extremely thankful to my friend and therapist for bringing me to this juncture.