Approximately 10% of the American population suffers from depression.
Depression is an illness that affects day to day life and destroys families. It is a disorder that controls the mind and its functions, causing loss of appetite, sleeplessness, mood swings, and a deep sense of despair.
The symptoms of depression are varied, the severity changes with time, and according to experts, depression can be; an inherited disorder, caused by life threatening illnesses, or even stress induced. Other causes are certain diseases, medicines, drugs, alcohol, or mental illnesses.
Women are seen to experience depression more than men and this is attributed to hormonal swings, menstrual cycle changes, pregnancy, miscarriage, pre-menopause, and post-menopause.
Common symptoms of depression are:
- An unshakeable sadness, anxiety, or emptiness.
- Overwhelming hopelessness accompanied by pessimistic feelings.
- Extreme guilt, feelings of helplessness, and no sense of self-worth.
- Loss of energy, a slowing down of metabolism, and activity levels. Being plagued by constant fatigue.
- A sense of helplessness along with an increasing inability to focus and indecisiveness.
- Loss of sound sleep and development of extreme insomnia.
- Inexplicable weight loss or weight gain, triggered by loss of appetite or eating binges.
- Brooding and/or suicidal inclinations.
- Irritability, short temper, as well as restlessness.
- Physical afflictions like headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain for no particular reason.
If you experience any of the above along with a marked change in behavior do consult your doctor. Physicians can administer a thorough examination to rule out physical causes for depression, as well as any underlying medical problems. Then if required he will recommend that you consult a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Depression is an illness and needs to be acknowledged as such. It is not a reason to be ashamed. The reason so many people fail to seek help for their depression is that they are ashamed or have anxiety about acknowledging the issue. Unfortunately, this is one of the symptoms and feelings associated with depression that makes the illness difficult to accept.
If you are constantly feeling particularly low, friends with good intentions might tell you to “snap out of it”, or even get irritated by your mood. Your depression will feed off this negativity and you may start to wonder why you can’t simply “snap out of it”. Then you may start to feel that there’s something wrong with you, because it should be so easy and it’s “not right” that you feel so bad all the time.
Well, it’s not right, and there is something wrong with, a medical condition called Depression, and you deserve treatment, the same as any other illness. If you had a cold for six months would you ignore it and hope it would pass? No, you would dose yourself up with anything you could find and maybe see a doctor to find out if there’s an underlying reason for it to last so long.
Depression can feel like sadness that lasts far too long. Everyone is sad at some point in their lives, but depression is much more than that. It is a feeling that you can’t bring yourself up from the bottom and in the end, you may give up trying. You need to find external help to treat the problem in the same way as you would if you had a long-lasting cold, there may be an underlying physical cause for your depression.
If your doctor cannot help you they may refer you for counseling. Do not be embarrassed to go for counseling but, do make sure you are comfortable with your counselor. If you are not comfortable with your counselor, try another one, as simple as that. Counseling should not be discounted because you do not feel comfortable with your first choice of practitioner. In everyday life, you will naturally find that you get along with some people and clash with others. You cannot afford to have a personality clash with your counselor.
On the other hand, you must be sure that it is a personality clash and not that you simply disagree with what they are saying, because they might say a lot that you disagree with. A general rule is to go with your instincts, if you like the person and seem to get along well in the first couple of sessions then stick with it because they might just have touched on the root cause of your problem.
In some cases, acknowledging depression may be difficult because you have lived with it so long that you can no longer recognize what is caused by your depression and what is not. If you have grown up with depression it is possible not to realize that you are actually depressed because you have no concept of how being mentally healthy feels.
You may feel angry all the time or you may feel like going to the middle of an empty field and simply screaming. You may feel anxious, have trouble sleeping or even sleep too much. You may think that your family would be better off without you (and actually believe that to be true), and may have considered running away or suicide. You may worry about death all the time (yours or someone else) and not let yourself be happy just in case something bad happens.
If you are feeling any or all of this, then you need to consider talking to someone. Even if it is just a friend or family member to start with, they may be able to advise you and encourage you to seek professional help.
Take control of the matters in your life, once you have acknowledged that you have depression please remember that it is a medical condition and can be cured. You do not have to feel this way for ever, talk to someone, seek and accept help and you will find that there is a different way of seeing life.
If your depression escalates or you are suicidal seek help from your family physician, health care provider, or visit the emergency room immediately. You must reach out, call a local health department, a community mental health center, or hospital or clinic. Someone will extend a helping hand and talk you through the crisis. You are not alone.