Drugs and depression: Money can’t buy happiness

By Ahmed Wafi

In recent years, the world has seen quite a number of A-list celebrities fall prey to drugs and eventually depression or vice versa. What’s more unfortunate is that many of those celebrities no longer walk the earth today. Among the most recent examples include Robin Williams, Heath Ledger and a lesser known Sawyer Sweeten who took his own life in April last year. He was 19 years old.

Depression is a pain foreign to me and therefore I have no right to judge anyone claiming to be battling depression and truthfully, no one has the right to judge anyone battling depression. They say money can’t buy happiness and it appears to be evidently so. Although most of us believe that we would be happier with more money. “If I was given a million dollars I’d buy this and that and this and that…” is what many people think about if they ever become a millionaire but do we ever ask ourselves “what next?” We buy the things we want and maybe spend it on others but then what?

One of the latest celebrities to admit suffering from depression is undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) and World Boxing Organisation (WBO) heavyweight champion of the world Tyson Fury. The Englishman has admitted to suffering from depression in recent months and has even said that he has hit ‘rock bottom’ after winning his titles in November last year.

The controversial world champion unfortunately has failed a urine test recently testing positive for cocaine according to reports from multiple mainstream news media, including The Guardian. Has his depression surfaced as a result of drug abuse or has his depression caused him to turn to drugs?

Why is it that successful people tend to go through such difficulties?

The 90s grunge rock star, Kurt Cobain, took his life in 1994 after appearing to suffer from clinical depression and persistent drug addiction. He left a suicide note in which he wrote, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”. That famous line was from a famous Neil Young song. He left behind a wife and a daughter.

I could continue listing celebrities who have had to suffer from depression and ultimately commit suicide but there really isn’t much of a point there.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Mimi Iznita believes that it’s not the case of famous people being prone to depression but rather it’s because of famous people’s depression and mental health issues being publicised in the media. There are millions of people in the world suffering from depression that we don’t know about; people living in rural areas, even psychologists, suffer from depression.

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental illnesses in the world. In some countries one would be higher than the other. Malaysia has a higher rate of depression than anxiety.

Dr. Mimi further added that depression is a mood disorder caused by a combination of both biological and environmental factors. The biological imbalances can be countered by a good environment and protective factors namely a strong social support and firm religious beliefs.

Another factor that contributes to depression, according to Dr. Mimi, is stress. “Some professions will generate more stress than others.”

“Among the most stressful professions that cause the highest amount of depression include medical doctors, dentists, law enforcement officers, and military officers who have engaged in combat,” she added.

When asked about the relationship between depression and drug abuse, Dr. Mimi stated that in some cases drug abuse can be a result of depression or sometimes the drug abuse can lead to depression. When a person is depressed, they will look for ways to relieve their depression and a lot of times this relief is found in recreational drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and also alcohol. Other times when a person is so used to being under the influence of drugs, staying off the drugs can lead to them craving for it because they crave the adrenaline.

The higher the stress a person endures, the higher their chances for depression.

“Depression can strike anyone at any time even us, psychologists, can suffer from depression. Even though we’re supposed to treat those with mental illnesses, we are not immune from them,” Dr. Mimi admitted.

The first step to solving a problem is to admit to having a problem. Unfortunately, sometimes when people with psychological illnesses admit to having a problem they are met with backlash and accusations of being “attention seekers”. A very recent example would be Malaysian ‘Twitter celebrity’ Arlina Banana who suffered widespread hate and bullying after she tweeted about taking her own life.

Tyson Fury and Arlina Banana, despite their differences, beliefs and social statuses deserve our sympathy and support.

How can anyone get better when they are shunned for admitting to having a problem?

As mentioned earlier, depression is a result of both biological and environmental factors, so in order to cure a person of depression, both aspects will need to be addressed. Anti-depressants will help ease the biological imbalances in one’s body but the emotional symptoms will need another form of treatment.

Many professionals including Dr. Mimi believes that exercise is one of the best ways to begin the road to recovery from depression. In fact, exercising 30 minutes every day for 30 days will uplift a person’s mood the same way anti-depressants do.

Apart from exercise, proper sleep and a healthy diet will also do its part to fight depression. The three combined will definitely do its part in one’s road to recovery from depression. Most people suffering from depression will tend to sleep more than they should or not sleep at all.

As members of society, we have to be more open and accepting of a fellow brother or sister’s cry for help. A lot of times they just need someone to talk to and not someone to help solve their problem, especially if we don’t know how to solve the problem.

Phrases like “just shake it off” or “be strong” does nothing to cure a person’s depression. It might even make it worse if the patient believes he or she is not strong enough.

Lastly, it is advised to be around a good crowd, as mentioned above, a strong support system will always do its part. Being around happy people long enough might eventually lead to their vibes rubbing off on you.

Do not mock the pain in which you have not endured.***

Picture courtesy of taraleigh90

Ahmed Wafi

The first step to being good at something is to suck at something. I like running and boats.

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