Depression. It is a heavy word that everyone knows, and nearly everyone experiences during their life. But what is it exactly? Is being really sad depression? Is lacking motivation depression? If you are depressed, is there anything that you can do that will really help? And where does it come from?
There are some basic symptoms and signs that go together that we call depression. Those include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble getting to sleep, sleeping, or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
A combination of these symptoms felt for a minimum of 2 weeks straight could be diagnosed as depression. And the amount of time as well as the depth of the feeling is what makes it clinical depression as opposed to “just” feeling depressed. Everyone has down days, but when they last so long and are so very deep, that is when you need help. (important side note- if you have felt this way for 13 days, just because you haven’t hit the two week mark doesn’t mean you don’t need help. The same goes for any suicidal thoughts. Get help when you feel you need help, please!)
But what causes depression? Is is a “chemical imbalance”? (An interesting side note, no one knows what a healthy “chemical balance” in our brains is, and there is no proof that a chemical imbalance exists, but it is still talked about a lot as if it were fact.) Is is weakness? (No!) Depression can come from many different sources, such as illness, thyroid issues, anemia, or other physiological problem, but often it comes from things in our lives going wrong or piling up. Loss of a loved one, end of a relationship, loss of a job, children growing up and leaving home, infidelity of a spouse, constant stress at work or school, bullying, or any number of sad, stressful, or overwhelming events, especially when combined or lasting a long time, can make us feel down. And when they pile up or don’t stop, the weight can become too much. And we get depressed. There is only so much the human mind and body can take before it isn’t able to cope. And the longer or deeper we are in it, the harder it becomes to get out on our own.
Depression is one of the most common mental health issues in our country. The good news is there is much that can be done to overcome it. The most important being, don’t go through it alone! Talk to friends and loved ones. Get help with encouragement to get out of the house and move (walk, run, bike, etc.) Listen to happy, upbeat music. Go outside in the sun. Seek out a competent therapist. Depression is not only common but highly treatable. A therapist can help you find the source of your depression and help you take the steps to get out from under it. When you are in it, it is hard to see a way out. But there is always a way out and back to feeling good again.
If you or a loved one is struggling with depression and you would like therapeutic help, call us and one of our highly trained therapists can help. There is hope, even when it is hard to see it.