Do you suffer from feelings of hopelessness, depreciating self worth, suicidal or self-harming thoughts? Do you feel alone in a room full of people? Is it impossible for you to get out of bed or find the strength to do anything? Are you more gloomy than Eeyore?
Not this is not a commercial or ad for medication, in fact the exact opposite, as I feel medication should be a last resort to mental illness. Read on if you answered yes to the previous questions.
What is Depression?
If you have a diagnosis of depression from a doctor you probably already know the answer to this, but for those that done read on. Depression in it’s most simplistic form is nothing more than a chemical imbalance in your brain. That being said there are many forms of depression. If you’re reading this I doubt you suffer from mild or sporadic depression. No, you’re probably a sufferer of clinical, or major depression. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in order to to be diagnosed with clinical depression, one must have five or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period:
- significant weight loss or weight gain not resulting from dieting
- feelings of sadness or hopeless that do not go away
- loss of interest and passion in every day things
- insomnia or over-sleeping
- constant feeling of fatigue and/or unexplained loss of energy
- recurring thoughts of suicide or self harm
- feelings of worthlessness or feeling unimportant
- feelings of unfounded guilt
Who can suffer from Depression?
ANYONE. Seriously. Anyone. You don’t have to have a major crisis, or be from a certain background to suffer from depression. NEVER let somone tell you that you have “no reason to be depressed”, “it’s all in your head”, or “just stop being dramatic”. All-in-all people may think they mean well, but mental illness still has a horrible stigma in our society. Often if it cannot be seen, it doesn’t seem like a legitimate health issue, when in all reality this is extremely detrimental to mental health treatment. Roughly 7% of the population of the United States suffers from clinical(major) depression, and about 20% of the entire world. That may not seem like a lot, but think about the population of planet Earth. When you think about it that way, 20% is a lot of people struggling. YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE! As such, women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men. This is due to hormonal changes that constantly take place withing the female body. It does NOT make you weaker. It does NOT make you less important.
What can I do about it?
First off, you must be willing to admit to yourself above all else that you in fact have a problem that needs addressing. There is nothing shameful about doing so. In fact, being able to admit there IS a problem is your very first step in treatment. Remember that there is ALWAYS someone willing to listen to you. If you cannot go to your family, find your national suicide prevention hotline.(Almost all developed “1st world” countries have one you can find in a phone book, or even online)
As silly as it might sound, writing down your feelings either in a wordpad doc or in an actual journal/notebook really can help…as long as you’re honest with yourself. Also, as hard as it might be, attempt to will yourself into getting out your home, even it’s merely to a local park. Sometimes something as seemingly simple as fresh air can completely turn your mood around. I like to say that medication should be used as a last resort, because well, it should be. However, some times it is necessary. Some people even get off their medication not long after taking it, some it takes a while, and others are on it indefinitely. There is no doubt it can be used as a stepping stone to get “in a better place” mentally, but it should be used in conjunction with other methods as well. Before medication I suggest first and foremost trying to figure out exactly what is triggering your negative feelings if you can. Is it your home environment? If so, can you change it? Is it your romantic partner? If so, is it possible to tell them what is happening to you? If not, can you leave your relationship? Is it your job? If so, can you find another in your field?
Think about all in your life that may be causing the depression, or at least escalating the symptoms, and if you CAN change it DO IT! Think of things you love, or once loved, to do, and try to do them once more. Something you enjoy purely because you enjoy it. No strings attached. Also, remember that no matter what, someone will always listen. There IS a light at the end of your dark tunnel, even if you cannot see it yet.