“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss
Mental illness affects tens of millions of people in the United States. Depression is by far the most prevalent, representing 99% of all mind-brain illness. (Schizophrenia and major psychotic illness represent the remaining 1%).
The umbrella of depression encompasses Major Depressive Disorder and its related mood disorders including bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder, and suicide.
Depression is a common, but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities; such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
If you experience these symptoms consistently for most of the day or nearly every day for 2 weeks you might be suffering from depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Depression doesn’t look or feel the same for everyone. Different individuals might be affected by all symptoms or just a few, with varying degrees of intensity.
This also means different individuals will benefit from different treatments or mental health approaches and diagnosis. It is important to note mental health is greatly influenced by physical health and some symptoms might be caused by a physical condition. Please talk to a doctor as well as a mental health professional.
Depression is a condition that can bring many questions. The journey towards emotional health can seem scary, confusing, or daunting at times because it requires us to acknowledge something is not right. In order to be able to overcome our struggles, first, we must be aware of them and, second, decide what actions can we take to improve what is not working or hurting us.
When working towards building healthy coping methods and making healthy changes in our lives, it is always important to focus on things that are within our control by making realistic goals.
Focusing on factors we can control in our lives helps us feel empowered and take charge. Controllable factors include what we say and do, our perspective on different situations, how we handle and act in relationships, our self-awareness, our eating, sleeping, and exercise, etc.
Identifying factors that we can control helps set realistic goals we can reach, increase introspection, encourage healthy behaviors and boost self-esteem.
DEPRESSION MYTHS DEBUNKED
- DEPRESSION IS ALL IN YOUR HEAD
Depression is a psychological, social, and biological disorder. It can be chronic and takes treatment to manage. Someone who is depressed can’t just shut it off or “suck it up.”
The general public only sees the emotional side of depression-like acting out or not acting like yourself. If we took the time to realize that depression is a condition that causes physical issues as well, maybe we would see that depression is a real disease that takes time and treatment to manage.
2. MEDICATION IS THE ONLY WAY TO HANDLE DEPRESSION
Medication is only one way of treatment. There are other treatments that might not require medication or will work together with it. Therapy techniques including CBT, EMDR, DBT and Art therapy can help depression. Neurofeedback targets specific brainwaves training that can help enhance brain functioning and help depression by boosting positive thinking and self-awareness.
3. EVERYONE EXPERIENCES DEPRESSION THE SAME WAY
People who experience depression may have physical differences in their brains than the average person. These differences don’t always act the same way in everyone’s brain. The changes in the brain, plus hormone changes, can influence the severity of moods, thoughts, and physical issues.
4. DEPRESSION IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS
Depression does not discriminate. You do not decide to become depressed. The only reason depression is viewed as a weakness is that society has stigmatized the condition. Depression is a biological and psychological condition that has nothing to do with how strong you are.
5. DEPRESSION COMMONLY HAPPENS TO WOMEN
t’s not that there isn’t any depression in men, it’s just that men don’t talk about it as often as women. In the U.S., four times as many men die by suicide than women. Some men believe that talking about their emotions is silly or pathetic. Some men avoid treatments for depression in fear that they will no longer appear masculine or strong. Some symptoms of depression in men, additional to the ones mentioned above, include anger, unable to meet daily responsibilities, loss of interest in sex.
“The strongest people are those who win battles we know nothing about.”– Unknown
“Don’t let your struggle become your identity.”– Unknown