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Some depicted birds and the vast sky. Others painted a calm ocean, while many the dense forests. One artist had drawn a mother feeding her child and another an old man sitting under a tree. Scores of other maestros brought life to their canvases with glorious colours and virtuosic skill. After much deliberation, the king shortlisted two paintings he felt were the closest representation of peace. One painting was of a calm lake. Perfectly still, it was surrounded by colossal, lushly forested mountains. The benign expanse overhead was interrupted only by fluffy white clouds. An old tree stood by the lake with its boughs extending several feet over the water, upon which a dry leaf floated like a child's toy. The king's courtiers and his subjects proclaimed this the perfect representation of peace. The other painting was of chaos writ large across the canvas. Whereas this too portrayed mountains, they were rugged and bare. The sky was of gunmetal grey rent by silver streaks of lightning, and driving rains lashed the landscape. A mighty waterfall gushed from a crevasse between the tall peaks. Everyone was puzzled to see this as one of the shortlisted paintings. But the king asked them to look closely, to examine the work more deeply. Beside the waterfall, a young bush grew in a fissure in the rock. There sitting amongst its leaves, in the centre of this tumult, was a nest where a mother bird was feeding her little ones - unafraid, and in perfect peace. The king awarded the prize to this painting, Because,' said the king,the first painting is attractive, but it's not real. Peace doesn't mean a life devoid of adversities, troubles and challenges.

Instead, it means to be surrounded by all of these and yet maintain faith and calm. That is the real meaning of peace. Most of us want the painting of our lives to look like the first one, but most often life hands us the second one. The first painting is our expectation from life and the second is the reality of it. And peace lies in reconciliation of the two. You can't stop the rains or the foaming waterfalls, but you can find your nest of life on the bush of faith - of acceptance, of good karma. This is no small feat, however, because we seem to be wrestling with the negative side of human nature much of the time. A recent study in Belgium found that compared to twenty-seven other positive and negative human emotions, sadness lasts 240 times longer. You ask someone to pass the salt at the dinner table and if he ignores you, you feel bad. Even this tiny incident can trigger emotions of sadness, and suddenly you may stop enjoying your meal or not feel like eating altogether. This is the way of sadness. Perhaps nature could have primed us a bit differently. It would be nice if God hadn't rushed to create the world in six days. He could have taken it a bit easy - maybe he could have consulted. It's always good to do a pilot project first, I feel. What's worse is that after creation, he went to rest on the seventh day and seems to have left us to our own devices since. He still appears to be resting, while humans are left here to grapple with their existence, writing and reading articles about depression. Anyway, getting back to the reality of our world, the researchers in this revealing Belgian study wrote, Out of twenty-seven emotions, sadness lasted the longest, whereas shame, surprise, fear, disgust, boredom, being touched, irritation and relief were the shortest emotions. <a href=''>In</a> particular, compared to short emotions, persistent emotions are typically elicited by events of high importance, and are associated with high levels of rumination. <a href=''>Sadness</a> has this way of turning us into ruminators. <br /><br /><a href=''>When</a> we are sad, we keep rethinking the same unpleasant event, over and over again. <a href=''>As</a> is mind's wont, it soon dredges up all other related or unrelated disagreeable events. <a href=''>They</a> start adding up and before long, we are caught in the whirlpool of intense sadness. <a href=''>This</a> does not mean we are depressed, though. <a href=''>When</a> you say you are depressed, it may not be the same as when psychiatrists say you are depressed. <a href=''>It</a> is important to understand their view because when a psychiatrist diagnoses you with depression, he almost invariably prescribes you antidepressants. <a href=''>The</a> Diagnostic and Statistical Manualof Mental Disorders (or DSM as it's commonly known) is the American Psychiatric Association's official guide of recognized mental disorders, and it contains the criteria for diagnosis for each disorder. <a href=''>The</a> guide has been translated into more than twenty-two languages and is used by health care professionals worldwide. <a href=''>When</a> they diagnose anyone with any mental disorder, this is the guide they refer to. <a href=''>According</a> to DSM-V (the fifth edition launched in 2013), there are nine factors that define depression. <a href=''>For</a> anyone to be diagnosed with depression, they must experience at least five of the nine symptoms almost every day for a minimum of two weeks. <a href=''>If</a> your symptoms match this clinical criteria (minimum five symptoms, two weeks, almost every day), you are diagnosed with depression and you are prescribed antidepressants almost as a matter of course. <a href=''>See</a> the table below for the nine factors and their description that make up the criteria for major depressive episode: <a href=''>Criteria</a> <a href=''>Description</a> <a href=''>Depressed</a> mood <a href=''>You</a> feel sad and empty, or even irritable or tearful, for most of the day. <a href=''>It</a> could be based on self-observation or observation done by others. <a href=''>Diminished</a> interest <a href=''>Marked</a> diminished interest or loss of pleasure in almost all activities. <br /><br /><a href=''>Once</a> again this could be based on subjective account (self-observation) or as reported by others. <a href=''>Body</a> weight <a href=''>Significant</a> weight loss or weight gain, that is, more than 5 per cent in one month even when you are not dieting. <a href=''>In</a> young adults, if they don't gain new weight, consider it as weight loss. <a href=''>Sleep</a> pattern <a href=''>A</a> distorted sleep pattern leading to hypersomnia or insomnia. <a href=''>Body</a> movements <a href=''>Psychomotor</a> agitation or retardation. <a href=''>Psychomotor</a> agitation is a series of unintentional and purposeless motions that stem from mental tension and anxiety of an individual. <a href=''>This</a> includes pacing around a room, wringing one's hands, uncontrolled tongue movement, pulling off clothing and putting it back on and other similar actions. <a href=''>Energy</a> level <a href=''>A</a> constant feeling of fatigue or loss of energy. <a href=''>Self-view</a> <a href=''>Low</a> self-esteem, most notably, feelings of worthlessness and excessive or inappropriate self-guilt. <a href=''>These</a> feelings are often delusional and not just feeling guilty about being unwell or not mixing with others. <a href=''>Concentration</a> <a href=''>Diminished</a> ability to think or concentrate. <a href=''>It</a> could also be indecisiveness. <a href=''>This</a> is not just due to restlessness or torpor, it is lack or loss of focus on its own. <a href=''>Destructive</a> thoughts <br /><br /><a href=''>Recurrent</a> thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide. <a href=''>Here</a> are some important pointers:, , <a href=''>One</a> of the symptoms must be eitherDepressed mood' or `Diminished interest'. The symptoms do not meet criteria for a mixed episode. The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms are not due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (eg, a drug of abuse, a medication) or a general medical condition (eg, hypothyroidism). The symptoms are not better accounted for by bereavement, ie, after the loss of a loved one, the symptoms persist for longer than two months or are characterized by marked functional impairment, morbid preoccupation with worthlessness, suicidal ideation, psychotic symptoms, or psychomotor retardation. The episode is not attributed to the physiological effects of a substance or any other medical condition. The occurrence of the major depressive episode is not better explained by schizo-affective disorder, schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder, delusional disorder, or other specifi ed and unspecifi ed spectrum and other psychotic disorders. There has never been a maniac or a hypomaniac episode. If you have experienced most of the symptoms stated in the table for a continuous period of more than two weeks, you are suffering from depression and you should seek professional help. Never feel bad about taking antidepressants. It's a medication and not a recreational drug. As I said earlier though, antidepressants are a means to an end. As part of your recovery, you should factor in dietary and lifestyle changes so that you may come off medication at the earliest. If, however, you are sad or intensely sad because you find yourself ruminating about the past, or you were in an abusive relationship or anything else that has made you feel helpless and sad, you may want to reconsider if you are actually even suffering from depression. Living in a suffocating environment can make everything in life appear lacklustre; When you continue to live in a distressing environment, you develop a normal behaviour of sadness. Aristotle differentiated between a melancholic temperament and a melancholic episode. The former becomes part of one's personality and the latter is a one-off happening.