Have you ever had the flu?
I remember about 10 years ago, I came home from work. I felt like someone had run over my body with a truck. My entire body ached and it hurt to move. I couldn’t even think about eating or drinking. I had chills and all I wanted to do was stay in bed. I hurt so bad, I felt like I was going to die.
From everything that I know and have learned, this is one example of what depression can feel like.
Major Depressive Disorder is described by the APA as a relatively common and serious medical condition that has a negative effect on feelings, cognition, and behavior.
There is a lot of information about Depression available, but here are
7 Things You Should Know About Depression.
1). Depression is VERY Real.
It is a very natural thing to feel sad or down throughout life. Death (grieving), illness, even stress from work or home- all these events are a part of the changes that occur in life. With Depression however, the sadness never seems to subside.
Going to work can become a struggle, and even getting out of bed may be difficult. Participating in social activities may feel like a hard task, and the desire to isolate oneself may become appealing. If left untreated, depression can lead to declining physical health, and increase the risk of suicidal thoughts.
2) Just “getting over it” is not an option.
A person just can’t “get over” heart disease. One just can’t “get over” asthma.
The same holds true for depression.
Excluding genetic makeup and brain chemistry, a person living with depression typically has difficulty with cognition or Challenging Negative Messages.
It typically takes hard work through therapy, and sometimes medication management, before symptoms of depression subside. Lifestyle changes usually have to be made too.
Telling someone living with depression to “get over it” will probably make him or her feel worse, and maybe even insulted.
3) Depression affects the body.
Depression hurts. Many people living with depression state that they feel as if they are wearing a weighted vest- almost like lead.
Similar to the flu, a depressed person may feel extraordinarily exhausted. Leg pain and even headaches can be present.
4.) Depression affects sleep.
Many people living with depression have difficulty sleeping. They may have difficulty falling asleep. Or they may fall asleep easily, but then wake up and have difficulty falling back asleep.
On the other hand, some people may sleep too much. They may sleep for hours and still feel the need for more sleep.
5.) Depression can make you angry.
Some people with depression show symptoms of extreme anger, agitation, or even aggression.
They tend to be “chronically mad” (my term- definitely not medical). Any little trigger seems to “set them off”, or they may find themselves angry for no apparent reason.
6.) Depression doesn’t just affect women.
Men may struggle with depression as well. Often men tend to internalize feelings so signs and symptoms may not be as obvious.
Sometimes men are reluctant to seek out help. This usually stems from #7.
7.) There is a stigma that needs to end.
There is a stigma that not only surrounds depression but mental illness in general. It seems that often people feel a sense of guilt or even shame when some form of treatment is sought.
This guilt may stem from having to take medication (even if a doctor has deemed it necessary) or having to attend therapy.
When I was in college, I noticed that the idea of receiving therapy was “taboo”- almost as if receiving treatment was an embarrassment. To this day, I often notice that this sense of shame or guilt is present, particularly with persons of color.
There sometimes seems to be this idea that seeking treatment makes one “weak”, and the better solution would be to “tough it out”.
If you were having an asthma attack, would give use an inhaler?
If you were having an allergic reaction, would you use an EpiPen?
If you stumbled, would you allow me to help you up?
The same applies to Depression. Doctor’s treat physical ailments daily. If the mind needs treatment, then so be it.
Depression is very real and It’s time to end the stigma.
What do you know about Depression? Did I omit anything important? Do you or someone you know live with Depression? If so, please share your thoughts in the comments section if you feel comfortable.
As always, the above information is intended to be strictly educational. If you think that you may be Depressed, it may be time to see a personal mental health professional or medical doctor. If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or needs help, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.