Finding Hope in the Darkness of Depression
Everyone experiences moments of sadness in their life. In fact, you probably don’t have to look that far back into your life to find the last time you had a “blue” moment. Feeling sad is a completely natural and even healthy emotion that is simply a part of life’s ups and downs. When these feelings arise, they may last a few days, but we can still push through the daily routine, and it’s not long until we’re back to our regular selves.
For some people, however, that sadness isn’t the same as what everyone else experiences with day-to-day life. In fact, the sadness they feel isn’t really even sadness; it’s an unquenchable feeling of loneliness, hopelessness, blackness, despair, anxiety, and fatigue. And it lingers. It doesn’t just pass after a few days, weeks, months, or even years. In the words of Barbara Kingsolver, it “is like cancer.”
Today, this “cancer” affects over 300 million people worldwide. It’s name? Depression
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental health disorder that results in persistent feelings of emptiness, irritability, hopelessness, loss of interest, and more. Ultimately, these feelings impair one’s ability to live life normally. Depression comes in various degrees and often arises as a result of several factors, including stressful life events, past trauma, genetics, medications, insufficient mood regulations in the brain, and more.
In the past, doctors assumed that depression affected mostly adults. Today, depression is becoming more common among women. Not only that, but it is also affecting more children and teenagers, manifesting itself more as irritability than the traditional “sad” mood.
When most people think of depression, they often think of the mental and emotional strain that people experience. Depression, however, effects more than just your mental health. It can lead to several physical health problems, such as headaches, stomach issues, and physical tension. In more severe cases, it can co-occur with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease. Depression is also the leading cause of disability for people between the ages of 15 and 44, and the leading cause of suicidal deaths.
October is National Depression Awareness Month. Being aware of depression means not only learning about it and what you can do to help others, but it also means being aware of the symptoms so that you can recognize depression in yourself and others. While many people are aware of their depression, many may still not be. If you experience any of the symptoms of depression, it is important that you visit with a qualified health professional to get the help you may need. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, emptiness, or loneliness
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness
- Lack of interest in hobbies or activities
- Lingering fatigue
- Restlessness and difficulty sleeping
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Physical health issues without a clear explanation
There are many more symptoms of depression, and most doctors say that in order to be diagnosed with depression, you need to experience several of these symptoms nearly every day, for the whole day, for a minimum of two weeks.
If you feel like you consistently experience any symptoms of depression, the first thing you can do is get screened. This year, October 11, 2018, is National Depression Screening Day. On this day, you can visit a local screening site, or take an online screening test. These screening tests are a great tool to help identify those who may truly be suffering from depression, ultimately helping them get the help they need sooner.
What You Can Do to Treat Depression
Depending on how severe your depression is and what caused it, there are many things you can do to help yourself get through to the other side. You can open up to a friend, family member, or health professional; remove stressful things and people from your life; socialize more often; take medication; exercise more frequently; get better sleep; and more. By working with others, you can figure out what triggers your depression and how you can remove those triggers.
Of course, all of this is much easier said than done, but just remember that you are not alone in this fight. Not everyone may understand exactly what you’re feeling, but you have people who are here to help you climb out of depression, one day at a time. I understand the severe impact that depression can have on someone’s life and want to do all I can to help those suffering from depression rediscover themselves and take back their lives.
If you or a loved one are dealing with hard times, please phone my office to set up an appointment today. You are worth it!