A traumatic event is sudden and unexpected. There’s no right way to react. But there are definite signs that you’re not coping with tragedy. Feeling pushed to the limit. When tragedy strikes, a person’s ability to cope with stress, anxiety, and anger is pushed to the limit. Whether the tragedy is of a deep, personal […]
TEN THINGS ABOUT DEPRESSION:
1. Depression is not the same as being sad.
Sadness is a temporary emotional state. Sadness is emotional pain triggered by a painful, difficult, challenging, or disappointing experience. You feel sad about something. Sadness is a healthy release of despair. Crying brings your serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate levels back to normal. You can pull yourself out of sadness. You will move past sadness and experience joy again.
Depression is a permanent illness that affects the brain, body, emotions, and spirituality. Depression affects every part of your life. You can get out of sadness without needing medications. But in depression, you need medications to stabilize you. You will have to be on anti-depressants for years, perhaps all your life. Depression literally changes your brain structure. Depression affects memory and attention. It affects how you interact with others, time management, and energy. You don’t enjoy things you used to enjoy. This is called anhedonia. You self harm. You lose hope.
2. Depression symptoms are different in men and women.
Women and men react differently to depression. Women tend to blame themselves, while a man will blame others. Because a woman blames herself, she’ll feel worthless, guilty, and anxious. A man, meantime, will feel suspicious and be guarded against revealing his feelings to others.
Men tend to be more angry than women. Women avoid conflicts when depressed. Women talk more easily about their feelings, whereas men hide their feelings. A depressed man finds it difficult to talk about his feelings. Instead, he will focus on physical symptoms that accompany depression. A man will mention aches, bruises, back pain, headaches and other physical problems as a cry for help. When men feel hopeless, helpless, or overwhelmed by despair, they tend to cover it up by drinking too much, behaving recklessly, or exploding with anger. A man needs to feel in control at all costs. To do otherwise is to be weak. So a man won’t admit to being depressed.
3. Being depressed doesn’t mean you’re weak, broken, or lazy.
Depression is a health problem. It’s not you being lazy, weak, or broken. Depression can affect anyone. It needs to be taken seriously, and treated with medications and therapy. Depression is not a punishment from God, nor is it punishment for being you. Depression is about negative thoughts taking over your mind and soul. Negative thoughts are powerful, and it takes time to turn them around.
Depression sucks the energy out of a person. It makes you tired beyond anything you could imagine. Your lack of energy affects work and social life. Meltdowns, crying on the job, or being a zombie doesn’t mean your weak or broken. You’re fighting the pain but it overwhelms all senses. Depression has real physical symptoms. Depression can cause sleep disorders, stroke, heart disease, and obesity. Being depressed doesn’t mean you’re weak spiritually or emotionally. You might have experienced trauma, grief, or been the victim of your own genetic heritage.
4. You are the same person you were before you were depressed.
Depression doesn’t change your soul, or how much you love others. It changes your interaction with the world and how you think about yourself. You’re using your energy to heal yourself and find a way out of the darkness.
Many people think that a depressed person is different, which is true in one way. People pick up on the changes in behaviour and attitude. The depressed person doesn’t smile as much, talk about things that interest him/her, doesn’t go out with friends. People notice change, but they don’t know what to do. So people hesitate, maybe even become a little bit afraid of approaching the depressed person. Especially if there are angry outbursts, or fits of crying. People don’t know what to do when the depressed person emotionally pushes them away. So they believe that the depressed person isn’t the same one they used to love.
5. There are many levels of depression.
There are similar experiences shared by depressed people. But the depth and perception of pain makes each experience unique. Depression ranges from mild to severe. Suicide is the step beyond severe depression, and is a person’s ultimate final choice.
Major depression is the most severe depression type a person can experience. The darkness consumes everything. A person loses interest in all activities. There’s serious weight loss or gain, lack of energy, brain fog, and thoughts of suicide. Major depression is so heavy on the soul and mind, that suicide is often seen as the only way out from the pain and despair. Medications, ECT, rTMS, and therapy are necessary. At the mild end of depression is persistent depressive disorder or dysthymia. It’s low mood, and while symptoms are the same as for major depression, it’s very different in the severity of hopelessness and despair. Medication or therapy will help.
6. Depression has many causes.
The problem with depression is that so many things cause depression. Sometimes the reason for being depressed isn’t clear, or it’s a combination of things. Often even the depressed person doesn’t know what’s the reason behind the depression.
Trauma and PTSD can create depression. Disease certainly causes depression. Old age brings with it big changes to lifestyle that leaves one depressed – like leaving your home for a nursing home. Grief can lead to depression. Genetics plays a role in whether you are prone to develop depression. SAD (seasonal affective disorder) also creates depression. Even technology and social media can increase depression.
Food and diet are also culprits in depression. Trans fats are artificially created fats that shrink your brain. This creates depression. Refined sugar changes your body’s glucose levels and swells your brain. High blood sugar affects mood by creating anxiety, weakening your ability to deal with stress, and increasing risk for depression.
7. It’s okay to talk about your pain.
Depressed people want to talk about their feelings. They have negative thoughts whirling inside their brains. None of the negative self talk makes sense, even though it can be convincing. So a depressed person needs to talk. The inner turmoil won’t be resolved, but it’s a good release valve.
Talking about depression doesn’t make a depressed person suicidal. That’s important to know. In fact, talking about depression can stop a person from choosing suicide, because it gives the person a chance to pause, rethink, and move back from the edge. Depression talk breaks the stigma of depression. It brings negative self-talk into the open, where the negativity can be looked at neutrally. Non-judgemental dialogue and actions are the best. You don’t have to hide despair or pain. Talking about your pain means admitting you are suffering, which is the first step towards healing.
8. Hugs are welcome.
A hug speaks volumes even if you don’t say a word. A hug says, “You’re not alone.” Hugs are a physical connection to the world. It feels good to be hugged. A hug brings comfort, reassurance, and love. A hug helps with the healing process of grief, trauma, or PTSD. A hug is simple and easy to do. A hug doesn’t cost anything, but is priceless to receive.
A hug releases feel good chemicals in the brain. Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone” because it’s responsible for how you feel when you bond with a loved one. Hugging a depressed person raises low oxytocin levels back to normal. The depressed person literally starts feeling good from a hug. Hugging a person creates a connection and a source of support during grief or depression. Hugs create feelings of trust, acceptance, love and support between people. Hugs are awesome!
9. “Tell me you love me.”
A depressed person wants love as much as anybody else. The person needs to know he/she is loved. That he/she is okay as a person. And that he/she still means something to you.
Love is unconditional. It’s hard for humans to love unconditionally. But, if you truly love someone, you’re not trying to change the person. Telling a depressed person, “I love you,” provides reassurance that you’re not trying to change him/her. You’re not judging or disrespecting the person. Love in a relationship means loving one another with trust, acceptance, and support. A depressed person wants to hear the words, “I love you” as much as feel the love. Remember, depression has a lot of negative self-talk. By saying how you feel, you are letting those positive words sink into the mind and heart of your loved one. You are reinforcing positivity.
10. If you notice signs of suicide, talk to the person.
People who attempt suicide leave warning signs. Even up to the last moment, a suicidal person wishes someone would step in and give a reason to live. Talking about suicide won’t make a person suicidal. Don’t promise to keep it a secret. Make sure you let some medical practitioner know. If you’re a kid, tell an adult you trust.
It’s difficult to understand why a person would choose suicide. Even when a suicide note is left behind, people have unanswered questions. That’s why it’s important to talk about depression with the person. Suicide can be an idea rattling around in the person’s head. Asking about suicidal thoughts actually decreases the risk of the person attempting suicide. If there’s already been an attempt, don’t ignore or try to cover it up. Talk to the person about suicide. Its been proven that people who attempt suicide will try it again.
Let’s recap the ten things about depression. Depression is not the same as sadness. Depression symptoms are different in men and women. You’re not weak, lazy, or broken if you’re depressed. You are still you when depressed. There are many levels of depression. Depression has many causes. It’s okay to talk about your pain when depressed. Hugs are welcome. “Tell me you love me” is very important. If you notice signs of suicide, talk to the person.
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