How do you feel?

“...I can't feel.”

A glimpse at depression in the United States.

report by rehaab ali raza

Interact with the visualisation below to experience what 1 in 3 young adults in the United States think depression feels like.

Reference: Reddit subthreads - created using D3.js

I anxiously wait for the person I have arranged to have a meeting with over a series of text messages, not knowing what to expect. A few minutes later, a slender young girl comes running towards me, her cheeks flushed pink. "Sorry about that", she says with an infectious grin, "I was on the phone with my mum."

As I step inside her apartment, Alice* prepares a cup of tea for me. It's steaming hot, and has a strong, cardamom fragrance tied in with cinnamon scents. Sooner than I realize, we're lost in conversation. I can't help but notice the wall in front of me, lined with wooden frames showing grinning photos of her with medals, trophies and certificates for her achievements. She is now in the final year of her postgraduate degree - having graduated from the University of Oxford earlier while on a scholarship.

But the Alice in the photos is very different to the one in front of me, who gazes towards the balcony with an almost frosted expression, the eyebags underneath her eyes forming gentle shadows.

"I didn't believe I was depressed for a long time", she says softly, "I just thought it was normal to feel empty."

She isn't the only one to think so.

64.1% of youth (under 18) with major depression in the United States do not receive any treatment.

Sadly, the number of depressed individuals in the United States is increasing - particularly amongst young adults. The visualisation below shows compares the percentage of youth (individuals less than 25 years old) suffering from a Major Depressive Episode with adults over the ages of 26 across the United States.

Reference: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(2017)

One of the challenges when dealing with mental health illnesses is its qualitative nature - unlike fever or blood sugar - it is not quantifiable - as well as the stigma associated with mental illnesses. "I would always be told to 'get over it'", Alice recalls, being told by her devout parents to turn solely to religion to get over her problems. "My friends eventually forced me to see a therapist."

It changed her life.

For emergencies, please contact 911. For more information, on resources, please click here.