Depression is more common than you think. In fact, over 16 Million Americans will suffer from depression in their lifetime. The good news is that depression is treatable. Many functional members of society suffer from depression and do quite well. This article will educate you on the illness and enable you to recognize the symptoms and better be able to help yourself or a loved one who may be suffering.
Depression. What IS it?
First, what IS Depression? Depression can be triggered by difficult life and emotional events. What happens is over time a chemical change happens in your brain and changes how your brain functions. Your brain just doesn’t control your body motions and thoughts but you MOOD as well. Your brain is made up of billions of nerve cells called neurons. The neurons send and receive messages from the rest of your body, using brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The correct amounts of these brain chemicals are responsible for our emotional state. Depression happens when these chemical messages aren’t delivered correctly between brain cells, disrupting communication.
Depression is a serious illness and much deeper than simply just cheering up. It needs to be treated just as serious as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Not all people suffer from all of these symptoms and many of them are common things that we ALL feel from time to time. But if you or your loved one is suffering from any of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks, you may wish to research depression a bit more and/or see your doctor.
The symptoms are as follows:
A constant feelings of sadness, irritability, or tension.
Decreased interest or pleasure in usual activities or hobbies.
Loss of energy, feeling tired despite lack of activity.
A change in appetite, with significant weight loss or weight gain.
A change in sleeping patterns, such as difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much.
Restlessness or feeling slowed down.
Decreased ability to make decisions or concentrate.
Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt.
Thoughts of suicide or death.
Untreated depression can result in psychotic episodes such as hearing voices and thinking irrationally and can indeed lead to suicide attempts and it should be taken very seriously.
Many of these symptoms I can relate to on a strong level. What do I do now?
Please understand that you are NOT “crazy”. Understand that unless you are in danger of hurting yourself or others, you are NOT going to be “put away”, “institutionalized” or “admitted to a mental health ward”.
You need to see your doctor. You may not even HAVE depression. He or she may treat you directly or refer you to a therapist of some type. Follow your doctor’s orders!
I’ve been diagnosed with Depression. What now?
It is IMPARATIVE that you follow your doctor’s orders religiously. Attend you appointments and take your medications (if any) as scheduled) If your doctor refers you to a therapist of some sort, you need to attend all therapy appointments as scheduled.
Treatment for depression involves medications or therapy or BOTH. Allow me to dispel a common myth. Anti-Depressant medications do NOT turn you into a zombie, make you sleep all the time, or get you high. Anti-Depressant medications work to correct that chemical imbalance in your brain that is influencing your mood. Be patient. Different people respond differently to medications and treatment. Your doctor or therapist may have to try a few medications or medication combinations before you notice any difference.
I HATE therapy. They ask you STUPID questions like, “How did THAT make you feel?”. It just turns me into an emotional mess to re-live all those painful times in my life.
Humans have a protective nature. When someone goes to hit us, we block the blow. It’s instinct. We do the same thing with emotional trauma. It’s easier to bury those memories than it is to deal with them. But what happens, is those feelings come out in different ways. An abuse victim for example may find they are afraid to be around people or a certain KIND of people. Therapists ask you “How did that make you feel” for a REASON. By thinking about how you felt at the time of the emotional hardship, you (the patient) are re-living it. You’re NOT burring the memories anymore and ONLY when you re-live it and FACE those hardships can you begin to learn to live with them.
Therapy isn’t meant to be easy. Let me tell you something. All those things that happened in your life that traumatized your mind, you will NEVER get over. Don’t fool yourself in thinking that therapy will help you to forget about it or get over it. Most traumatic things like rape or abuse for example you NEVER get over. The best you can do is to learn to live with them.
Don’t expect to go to a couple of months of therapy and be fine. It may take MONTHS or even YEARS. There is no quick fix for depression. It didn’t happen over night. It is impossible to fix it over night.
You won’t notice big changes right away. They’ll come in little subtle amounts and over time. But you’ll notice little things. You may be at a time when all seven of your days are bad days. After some time you see that out of seven bad days you had one ok day. Then you may notice that after a bit more time, out of the seven days you had three bad days, three ok days, and one good day. A bit more time passes and you see a great day peek in during the week. A bit more time passes and you find your great days a bit more frequent. This scenario may happen over months or years but THAT’S how therapy works and it DOES help.
Therapy isn’t easy at all but nothing worth having is easy. You can walk among the normal people again and you’re NOT crazy. You have a lot of people from all walks of society who suffer just like you. Some are rich. Some are poor. More money won’t fix it. A good relationship or marriage won’t fix it. The treatment for depression includes medications or therapy or BOTH. There’s no easy way out but there IS a way out. Good luck.