How To Save A Life: What You Should Know About Depression

As we’ve all been tragically reminded, depression is an illness that can hide behind even the biggest of smiles.

What is Depression?

Depression affects everyone afflicted differently.  Severity and type of symptoms change from person to person but is always serious and debilitating to some extent.  Here’s a list from WebMD of what those suffering from depression experience:

Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions

Fatigue and decreased energy

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness

Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

Insomnia, early morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

Irritability, restlessness

Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex

Loss of pleasure in life

Overeating or appetite loss

Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings

Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts

Who does depression affect?

Despite being such a devastating illness, depression can be difficult to recognize.  You can’t see it plainly like a rash.  You notice your friend hasn’t been going out with the group as often; in fact, you don’t remember the last time you’ve seen them.  You even made the effort to call and they still didn’t want to do anything but complain about not feeling up to it, and that was the one time they actually answered the phone.  What a drag.  After a while, you stop calling, everyone stops.

Think about that friend who was always the life of the party.  Always smiling and gets along with everyone.  Maybe that was just a mask to cover the real feelings of sadness, loneliness, and even suicide.  Unfortunately in our society, depression is still treated as something to be ashamed of and kept to oneself, unless you want to be seen as weak.

This insight on depression is from MentalHealthAmerica.Net:

“Clinical depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more than 19 million Americans each year.  This includes major depressive disorder, manic depression and dysthymia, a milder, longer-lasting form of depression.

Depression causes people to lose pleasure from daily life, can complicate other medical conditions, and can even be serious enough to lead to suicide.

Depression can occur to anyone, at any age, and to people of any race or ethnic group.  Depression is never a “normal” part of life, no matter what your age, gender or health situation.

Unfortunately, although about 70% of individuals with depression have a full remission of the disorder with effective treatment, fewer than half of those suffering from this illness seek treatment.  Too many people resist treatment because they believe depression isn’t serious, that they can treat it themselves or that it is a personal weakness rather than a serious medical illness.”

Costs of Living with Depression

This attitude is extremely hurtful to those suffering from depression.  It is hard to deal with depression alone. But, the reaction a lot of people get when they want to seek help is often one of reproach.  Depression makes people uncomfortable.  No one wants to be a constant ‘downer.’  And, there are only so many times you can listen to “just get over it.”  Being aware of negative feelings and having the desire to change does not make it easier.  In fact, one of the hardest parts of dealing with depression IS the fact that you do not want to be in that state of mind.  You’d do anything not to feel like you do.  This is why addiction often goes hand in hand with depression.  It’s easy to write someone off as weak, but it’s important to think about what drove them to their actions.

Depression can be a vicious cycle.  You don’t find joy with the people and activities you normally do so you want to avoid them.  But then, you aren’t finding any joy and blame yourself for being this way.  Even if you are lucky enough to have someone to confide in, they often stop listening once you’ve started sounding like a broken record.

Recognition and Treatment

If you’ve ever been on either side of a discussion on depression, it’s important to know what options are available.  Even if you have never had the experience, information could honestly be the difference between life and death.  There are a variety of treatment options such as prescription medication, therapy, and exercise to start.  If you suspect a friend or someone you know is depressed or comes to you, take the matter seriously. Listen with an open mind and offer your support.  Explain that your friend isn’t at fault and nothing is personally ‘wrong’ with him.  Suggest that contacting a physician or psychiatrist and even offer to drive so your friend doesn’t feel alone.  Never judge someone for beginning a regiment of prescribed medication to obtain a peace of mind you may take for granted. 

If you are afflicted with depression, try a new activity or get out of your comfort zone to try to shake the stagnant feeling.  Animals in captivity are frequently prescribed anti-depressants, so that should say a lot about our modern society and constantly broadcasting our lives via social networks.  The greatest thing we could do to battle depression is merely be aware and be accepting.

Below is more information on depression awareness.

12 Facts About Depression

10 Natural Depression Treatments

Slideshow – Overview of Depression

Article written by Rae Coder

Posted August 13, 2014

Feature image may be found at http://marciakatz.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/depression-2.jpg

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