Monday, July 15, 2024

Dear Gen Z, Depression is not something to be proud of

Priyal Dholakia – Enigmatic Horizon Staff (Assistant Editor)

Depression, a word that once sent shivers down the spine, is now a topic of chit-chat at coffee tables. Well, creating awareness around the cause is a pressing need of the hour. But, in our quest to normalise it, are we glorifying depression in any way? Let us find out.

What has led us to glorify depression?

The multitude of issues afflicting people, particularly youth, are on the rise. and so are the mental health concerns they invite. This had made the talk about depression more important than ever before. But the constant flurry around it has attached a sense of wonder to being depressed. The lines between normalizing and glamorizing depression are getting blurrier day by day. This has, in more ways than one, made Gen Z look up to the idea of being depressed. There are several factors and forces involved in brewing this situation. Let us take a closer look at each of them.

Social Media

In a time when social media is ruling the roost, every experience has become a “hashtag” and every issue a “trend.” With so many issues affecting them, Gen Z has created quite a stir around the subject of mental health. There is a constant buzz around destigmatizing mental health issues, especially depression. The hype surrounding it is so intense that the idea of depression, in a way, has become “attractive” to the youth. Today, Gen Z has made depression somewhat of a trendy fad. It has become almost fashionable for them to carry the label of “being depressed.” As a result, many Gen-Zers feel sort of compelled to be depressed just to “fit in.”

Media

Social media is not alone to blame for glorifying depression, though. Media influences also play a huge part in this. The heavy media coverage has made depression “desirable” for young people. Moreover, suicide and depression are portrayed as being “tragically beautiful” in poetic lyrics. Many songs convey the idea that sadness is beautiful. This is nothing short of dangerous. Such things paint an alluring picture of sadness to entice the young. In some ways, it makes them want to desire and long for depression as well.

Influencers and celebrities

Having celebrities endorse mental health services also contributes to all this. When people see their favorite icons endorse it, they attach some sort of glamor quotient to it. Seeing such celebrities, everyone wants a “label” to feel cool – a label of “depression,” a label of “mentally unwell,”, a label of “not feeling okay”, etc.

What are the potential pitfalls of glorifying depression?

This fake glory attributed to depression is indeed uncalled for. It has caused a major shift in how people view mental health and illness. People have switched their focus to accepting depression rather than solving it. Acceptance is wonderful and should be encouraged. But it should only be viewed as the first step towards finding a solution. Depression should not be glorified in the drive to accept and normalize it. If done, it can lead to several pitfalls, both at an individual and social level. Let us discuss some of them in detail below.

It discredits the struggle of people who are actually suffering from it.

By lauding depression, we undermine the struggles of people who are facing it for real. Admiring depressive traits discounts the actual dark side of the disease. People tend to underestimate the seriousness of the problem and take it casually. They don’t get that depression is a serious illness that can even take someone’s life. They take it in a lighter tone and brag about it to their friends and peers. Even on social media, depression jokes are more popular than quotes about happiness. This indicates the lack of seriousness surrounding the issue. People must acknowledge the gravity of the ailment and deal with it accordingly.

It fosters the agenda of big pharma giants and mental health professionals.

Having millions of people identify themselves as depressed low-key serves the agenda of pharma corporations and mental health professionals alike. How? You may ask. That’s because people’s attention has shifted from seeking wellness to medical aid. This has given a big boost to the medical and pharmaceutical industries in general. Of course, making them mint lots of money Some medications may even contain steroids and exert adverse effects on our bodies.

It has given rise to “sad online culture.”

Quotes like “Your dark side is heavenly,” “Sadness draws you closer to your angelic self,” or “Depression often brings out the best in you” create a distorted illusion of what depression looks like. The aesthetics of such posts have an impact on teens who are ill-informed. They find them to be appealing and feel like life’s miseries are a luxury. A recent study says that many teens think that depression or anxiety make them “special.” Such things do nothing more than push a sad online culture.

We need to understand that if stigmatizing mental illness is bad, glorifying it is also bad, if not worse. Depression is not aesthetic, beautiful, or charming. It is a lifelong struggle and an endless battle with one’s own self. We must work together to promote positive causes like health, fulfillment, and wellness. At the same time, we have to ensure that we are not glamorizing negative ones, like mental illnesses, in any way. This has to be an individual and collective endeavor. Only then will we see a paradigm shift in Gen Z’s mindset at large.

The bottom line  

It is high time we stop viewing depression as a symbol of glory for the sake of society. It is not something aspirational or to crave for. So, instead of publicizing it, strive to reach out and seek support. One needs to work on breaking bad habits and building a more fulfilling lifestyle for themselves. Remember, true grace and glory lie in overcoming the odds. not romanticizing them. There is no underlying beauty to being depressed. The earlier we acknowledge it, the better it will be.   

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