Ellen DeGeneres, Lady Gaga, Michael Phelps, and J.K. Rowling, seem like an unlikely group of people to be lumped together. Sadly, they all have something in common, and I don’t mean celebrity status. They all have suffered from Depression. Depression has no boundaries, it does not discriminate and does not have a “type.”
Everyone feels the blues at some point in their life. Whether it be after a death, breakup or difficult experience, it would be appropriate to experience sadness, loneliness and emotional pain – knowing that it is temporary and will fade over time. With time, most people can recover after an emotional life event.
But what if you don’t bounce back? What if you continue to feel the pain? What if these intense emotions start to interfere with your relationships with friends and family? Your job? Or how your feel about yourself and your future? If these questions hit too close to home, you may be suffering from Depression.
Let’s take a look at some of the myths about Depression to help reduce the stigma that surrounds this disorder. Depression can be treated when the signs are recognized.
1. You have to have a reason to be depressed. Everyone experiences ups and downs in life, but Depression is a prolonged feeling of sadness and hopelessness. Some people have obvious reasons to feel depressed like a loss of a family member, divorce or a loss of a job. Others may not have a reason and their mood can go low without any identifiable trigger. Depression is both a biological and environmental disorder and can strike even when things are going well.
2. You will know if you are depressed. For many people, their symptoms may creep up slowly and may not experience all symptoms at the same time. People may describe feeling overly tired, irritable or even just “blah” and not realize that those could be signs of depression. The severity, frequency and duration of one’s symptoms vary from person to person.
3. You can just “snap out” of Depression. Depression is not a sign of weakness or laziness, Nobody chooses to be depressed. The thought of asking someone with the flu to “just snap out of it” seems crazy. The same goes for Depression, this is a serious mental health condition that requires therapy and/or medication to help alleviate the symptoms.
4. If you are depressed, you will be crying all the time. Not always. Some people do become very tearful and emotional while depressed, while another person may feel numb, and someone else may feel irritable and restless. No two people experience Depression the same way. Just because you are not crying, does not mean that your Depression isn’t something to worry about.
5. Depression should be hidden and kept a secret. There is a big stigma when it comes to talking about mental health issues and it can be incredibly difficult to talk about these private thoughts and feelings. Keeping your depressive thoughts and feelings a secret can make your Depression worse and make you feel more isolated and alone. Talk with supportive friends and family about your concerns and if your Depression is not getting better, consider starting the process of therapy.
So, Depression looks different in everyone, what should I be looking for to know if I or a loved one needs help?
Signs of Depression
· Depressed mood, sadness or feeling empty
· Changes in sleep (sleeping more or experiencing insomnia)
· Irritable mood
· Sudden weight loss (without dieting) or weight gain
· Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
· Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
· Trouble concentrating or thinking
· Thoughts about death or suicide
If you or someone you know have experienced 5 or more of these symptoms the majority of the time for at least 2 weeks, you or they may be suffering from Depression.
Remember that unlikely grouping of celebrities and athletes, the ones who seem to “have it all,” adoring fans, money, medals and prestigious awards? Even with so many accolades, their biggest accomplishment and sign of strength was coming forward and sharing their stories of Depression. Through their willingness to share their truth, they have sent the message to the millions that suffer with them… “You are not alone and there is hope.”
Remember, Depression is an illness and it can be treated. if you are worried about yourself or a loved one who may be suffering from depression, be caring to their struggle and if the support and comfort from a loved one is not enough, encourage them to seek professional help.