Thursday, May 27, 2010

So What is Depression Anyway?

Well first of all I am not a clinician. I am not a doctor or therapist. I am an individual that has a diagnosis of depression and has received treatment and I would say is in "recovery". Depression is something I will always have to watch out for. It is a serious medical condition.
 Our minds and bodies are not separate, they are connected and so depression is not a weakness or a character flaw, it is in the biology. Clinical Depression is an illness, like cancer, or lupis, or any other physical illness. It took me a while to accept this.
Depression sucks because it is an extremely isolating condition. When you are depressed the last thing you want to do is call up a friend and talk about it.  You lose the interest in getting together with others and interest in the things that you usually like to do.
Negative thoughts are a biggie for people with depression. These thoughts tend to spiral downward and get really dark. They can be self deprecating. For example, you think your coworkers gossip about you at lunch, that you always look fat, and you can't do anything right.
Suicidal thoughts can enter into these persistent streams of negative thoughts. I always thought thinking about suicide is normal, but it isn't. Most people don't walk around feeling like they want to kill themselves. This is a sign of something serious going on and it is a huge indicator that you need help. Suicidal thoughts run the gamut. They can be something like "I want to jump in front of the next subway train" or "I wonder what would happen if I took this bottle of pills?" If you are thinking of harming yourself you need to get help now.
Sleeping A LOT or sleeping hardly at all. Both signs that something isn't quite right. Also, having little energy. Is it a fight just to walk up the stairs or make a meal? You may have the other end of the spectrum by having too much energy and feel like you are always geared up.
Another difficult symptom of depression is a drop in self care. When depression comes the last thing we do is take care of ourselves. We may be able to feed our kids and make sure they have clean clothes, but for us it is hard to take a shower, brush teeth, comb hair. Everything is a chore!
Depression can also manifest itself in physical pain or symptoms. These can include headaches, stomache pain or digestive upset, sore muscles, body aches. This isn't an exhaustive list, but you get the idea. For more on the symptoms of depression click here
Also, depression has a spectrum. A person can have varying degrees in the severity of the symptoms. I would say if you think your life has changed, that you are not feeling like the person you know you are, if the changes in your behavior have made your life more difficult to live then it would be worth looking into and getting help. And, as I said before suicidal thoughts, or attempting suicide is a strong warning to you that you need help.
These are the things I have learned about depression since getting treatment for it myself. I will say that it is difficult to deal with, but not impossible. My doctor told me that I don't have to feel this way. When I heard that I knew that I wanted to not feel so bad and decided to submit to some form of treatment. Today I feel a lot better. I am not so hard on myself and every day is a day I want to be alive for.

For more help with depression please find out about the resources in your area.

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