Understanding Depression Better

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Living in a state of depression is never a fun or easy thing to have to deal with.  It’s something that can truly take over your life and leave you feeling like an empty husk inside.

As many who’ve visited here before know, I’ve dealt with my own bouts of depression over the years, and have wrote about it several times in the past.

Although I’m not particularly feeling depressed these days, the shadow of it enveloping me once again is always on the edge of my consciousness, and is something I battle to prevent happening on almost a daily basis.

Too many are afraid to talk about what their going through, and many others are loath to be there to listen as if it was contagious.  Talking about it more will help de-stigmatise how others perceive those with depression, and will encourage those dealing with it to be more willing to open up about it or to seek treatment.

Here are some key facts about depression (ref – World Health Organisation):

  • Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, more than 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the global burden of disease.
  • More women are affected by depression than men.
  • At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
  • There are effective treatments for depression.

Here are a few things to help all of us understand depression better, from the point of view of things someone with depression will understand.

‘Snap out of it!’

snap fingers

This is probably the most useless and unsupportive thing you could say to someone with depression.  It’s not as if you could just wake up one morning and decide to not be depressed anymore.

Depression is not just emotional, but can also be physical, and saying something like this just shows a person’s lack of understanding of what depression actually is.

Sadness does NOT equal depression

Feeling down or sad is not the same as living in a state of depression, though some people do misconstrue one for the other.  Depression is a clinical term, and is caused by underlying illnesses and chemical abnormalities that cause a person’s mental health to deteriorate.  Depression goes beyond just being sad or upset, and we need to stop confusing the two.

understanding-depression-5Little victories are really big ones

When you’re suffering from depression, sometimes something as simple and little as getting out of bed in the morning can be a huge victory.

Most tasks and activities become an ordeal, and just getting through a few of them can make someone with depression feel like they’ve conquered something.  Like they’ve accomplished something substantial, even if it’s something more people take for granted on a daily basis.

Beyond lack of motivation

Most of us feel that 3pm slump when you need a little pick-me-up to get you through the rest of the work day.  For someone who’s depressed, it’s like that pretty much all of the time.  Depression can sometimes make you feel like your muscles doesn’t work anymore, and it’s difficult to maintain the focus we all need to get through the day.

There’s physical symptoms as well

Most people think depression as just an emotional or mental problem, but to help dispel this misconception, you also need to understand the physical symptoms.  And these physical symptoms can sometimes lead people to misunderstand what is going wrong with their body, and pre-existing issues could be made worse.  Other physical symptoms can include restlessness, indigestion, nausea, headaches, and joint and muscle fatigue to name a few.

Life just isn’t fun anymore

shutterstock_94195759Depression can make your life dramatically different, as you can lose interest in those activities you’ve always enjoyed – hanging with friends, reading your favourite book, enjoying a night out, or even romantic activities all seem less exciting.

This lack of interest can be a major red-flag when identifying the condition, and it something to look out for in yourself and others.  Be supportive and approach them with an open mind.

It’s hard to put into words

Some people think that those with depression can talk about how their feeling until the cows come home, but in reality it’s much different.  For a lot of people dealing with depression, it can be agony to describe to someone else how their feeling – especially when there’s a stigma around your illness.  When you’re looking at life through dark-coloured glasses, it can be hard to put that into words and believe that someone else can understand what you’re going through.

It’s different for everyone

There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ experience or approach when it comes to depression.  Everyone’s experiences and ordeals are unique to them, and there’s no one method to help fight the illness.  That’s what makes depression so difficult to deal with because everyone’s journey is different.

Understanding-Depression-666x372Everyone needs to take their own path to healing and getting past the depression in order to continue on with life.  The important thing is to make sure you’re getting the help you need if you’re depressed, and you’re being supportive of those suffering from it.

Be open.  Be understanding.  Be there for each other.

This post was inspired by ‘9 Things Only People With Depression Can Truly Understand‘ over on The Huffington Post.

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7 thoughts on “Understanding Depression Better

  1. Hi. Your post resinate with me so much. I was afraid to admit I had depression, it seems to run in my family. For me the weather does effect my depression, the last time I had depression that was the dark place was 11 years back. My doctor read back my records when I saw him a couple of months back. And at the beginning of this year it hit me slowly, engulfing my LIFE as I knew it. I ignored it, tried so many lame excuses why. Jet lag. Work. Family relationship. Diet. The colour of the walls, what I actually had to do was stand in front of the mirror and see what I was.

    In the midst of all the this, I had to fly half way across the globe for a family function. Alone. Now some though this was an adventure, a holiday, to me it was a meltdown. Alone, away from home that was a safe place. I had no feelings, I was scared, and here at this moment I realized no further.

    There were days I could not and would not leave our bed. To brush my teeth was a huge deal. I lost my appertite, sex drive, could not sleep and general lust for life.

    Hope held me back from ending it all. When people make dumb ass comments about suicide, do they actually listen to themselves. When I was in that dark place, I actually thought a lot about the why I am here, why I am so pathetic, why why why.

    I am on medication now, that to be frank its not working. I have to go back to basics and get my chemical levels balanced.

    So that my story, each day is a day closer to me finding the fun again. William has been amazing, and thanks again for this very personal insight that you wrote about. Ivan.

    • Oh Ivan, thank you so much for sharing your story and your recent struggles with me (us). When I posted this I hoped you and others dealing with depression could get something helpful or positive out of this posting.

      As you say, day by day you’re getting closer to finding the fun again.. no matter how long it takes just remember that the struggle and the battle to get there is totally worth it.

      Sending you loads of love and hugs xxx

  2. aguywithoutboxers

    This is excellent advice that we all need to keep in mind. Just as you wrote: “one size does not fit all.” Awareness of what depression is helps us all, whether we are in a relationship or simply a friend, family member or co-worker. This is one condition that has ramifications for us all. Thank you, buddy! Much love and naked hugs! 🙂

    • Absolutely, awareness and understanding is the key, regardless if you’re directly affected or not. Unfortunately our society tends to want to white-wash everything in happiness and rainbows, while trying to hide the sadness or depression people feel in the closet. As if by not talking about it or acknowledging it’s existence, they can just go on with their blindly (supposedly) happy lives.

      • aguywithoutboxers

        Unfortunately, you are absolutely on point with this. I respect you, Martin, for your honesty in sharing your experience. Much love and naked hugs, buddy!

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