Recently through an Instagram post, the Dangal girl and National film award winner Zaira Wasim admitted that she was battling depression and anxiety for the last four years. She wrote, “I am writing this to finally admit and confess that I, for a very long time have been suffering from severe anxiety and depression.”
But wait depression in children? That can’t be, it is only for adults. And hearing that from her peers, the Dangal Girl Zaira Wasim, believed that ‘its just a phase’ and continued to fight depression and anxiety for four long years in a, ‘Bubble of denial’. We know how depression is a stigma in our society and people generally keep from admitting something so sensitive. But in case of Zaira, it wasn’t stigma, it was the stereotype which believed that she was, ‘too young to be depressed’.
Does depression really have an age?
Neurologist Dr Praveen Gupta says, “Depression can occur at any age. Endogenous depression is that form of depression which happens in a setting of bipolar disorder where there is a deficiency of a brain transmitter balance. Brain transmitters fluctuate a lot in this condition. This gives rise to depression very early and can fluctuate throughout life. In this the patient has phases of unexplained depression without any apparent cause. They may also have phases of extreme happiness. Other form of depression is exogenous depression which can happen due to external stressors or traumatic events in life. Not being able to perform in class, lack of confidence, difficulty in peer adjust, lack of adjustment in parents, lack of sync between parents and depression.”
The 17 year old actor revealed that she had suffered her first panic attack at the age of 12 and second one at the age of 14. To this doctor says, “Children are very prone to anxiety which is related to fears. It could be fear of a parent, a teacher or fear or school. These are some of the causes of panic attacks. They usually take place due to a severe bursting anxiety in the body which leads to a lot of symptoms at once. It could be restlessness, numbness and many other symptoms. Unfortunately, these symptoms in kids go neglected. It is important to understand that these are serious symptoms in kids which need medical treatment.”
She wrote in her post, “Popping 5 antidepressants every day, anxiety attacks, being rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night, feeling empty, restless, anxious, hallucinations, having sore limbs from sleeping too much to not being able to sleep for weeks, from overeating to starving myself, unexplained fatigue, body ache, self loathing, nervous breakdowns, suicidal thoughts were all parts of this PHASE.”
Do you think that this could be a ‘phase’? The idea of such a ‘phase’ in life is good enough to give a person chills! While Zaira believed that ‘something wasn’t right’, she was always made to believe that there’s nothing wrong with her and depression only hits people who are above the age of 25. But it was only a matter of few years after which she lost count of the number of panic attacks she suffered and the number of medicines she took for her condition.
Is denial the solution?
Dr Gupta says that denial in no way is a solution. He said, “Denial is never a solution. It makes depression worse. If you keep labeling the child with various names, you end up making things worse for your child. This way, you end up creating more problems than solving any of them.”
While she was aware of the fact that something is wrong with her, she was always ensured that it was not true. With this, she said, ‘I would lie to myself and call the doctors crazy.’
At the end of her post, Zaira revealed, “Depression and anxiety is not a feeling, it’s an illness. Its not somebody’s choice or fault. It can affect anyone-anytime.”
She said that after four and a half years, she admitted that she suffers from depression, is able to understand it and is ready to embrace it without the fear of being judged or embarrassed. Lastly, she said that she would be looking forward to the month of Ramadhan to figure things out.
The first step towards the treatment of depression is to come up and accept it. We look up to you Zaira and hope for your quick recovery!