If you break your leg, it’s obvious. The doctor will put a cast on it to make it heal. Nobody will challenge the fact that you have broken your leg. If you have unipolar depression, it’s an invisible disease so people in your life may refuse to believe anything is medically wrong with you. That can be very difficult to deal with and may be enough to trigger or aggravate depression.
Causes of depression
Depression can be caused by factors including: stress, age, genetics, gender, outside influences or a biochemical reaction within the brain. You can also become depressed if you’re suffering from other serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart problems or cancer. Because these are complicated, serious diseases, your mind may not be able to cope with what happens to you as a result of these problems.
How do you know if you’re suffering from depression?
Depression has many symptoms and can be hard to detect in the early stages. You may feel very sad for no apparent reason. You may lose interest in doing activities you used to enjoy. You could feel very lonely, even when you live with your family or work with lots of people.
Unless you have actually suffered from depression yourself, you can’t possibly understand its complexities. It’s very frightening because the world can appear to be totally different to what it was before the depression set in. People will say they “understand” but it’s a lie, usually meant to console you, but it doesn’t because they can’t comprehend what you’re going through.
Loneliness is a strange, sometimes frightening feeling. People may tell you it’s impossible to feel lonely if you’re always around people. That’s another lie. You can be a very popular person at work and/or in your social circles and still feel that deep dark pit of loneliness that just pulls you into its powerful grip.
You may feel your life is pointless. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a very important job. Those feelings can be overwhelming, especially if you have nobody to confide in.
The ultimate symptom of depression is when you start to consider suicide as your only way to escape the torment you feel deep inside you. You may think about ways you could do it...will you use pills, a noose, a gun, poison, drown yourself, jump off a tall building or step in front of a moving train or truck? These are all possibilities that may run through your mind if you get to that frightening point where you believe suicide is your only option. It’s a truly terrifying feeling if you get to that point. Never let somebody tell you they “understand” unless they have actually experienced it themselves.
Don’t let fear be your undoing
You’re allowed to feel fear if you have symptoms of depression. Ignore comments you may hear from people around you. Some people can be very cruel if they notice you behaving in a different manner to what they consider is normal for you. Don’t allow others to dictate how you feel. That’s when depression can turn nasty. Refuse to let the fear control you. Take steps to get the help you desperately need and then the fear will reduce or disappear.
What to do about your depression
If you recognize any of these symptoms happening to you, it’s vital that you talk to somebody. Just like the broken leg mentioned previously, depression can be treated in many different ways once you make that first difficult step and ask for help. There’s definitely no shame or need to feel embarrassed if you’re depressed. It’s a genuine medical condition that can be treated.
You may just want somebody to talk to so you can vent your problems instead of bottling them up. That release can often be enough to ease the stress associated with depression and allow you to cope. You may need to talk to a psychologist. He can help you by listening and also by suggesting other ways to help you manage your depression.
Talk to your doctor
Talk to your doctor if you notice symptoms of depression. He can prescribe medication to control the problem. You may be surprised at just well powerful certain anti-depressants can affect your mental state. They can mean all the difference between your emotions overwhelming you or you controlling them.
Your doctor may also suggest changing your diet. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, you may become depressed over that. He may also suggest doing some regular exercise to burn off some of the excess weight and also to release the anxiety that causes stress. So there are lots of ways your doctor can help BUT only if you tell him your problem. Remember - he’s not psychic.
Support is vital to recovery
Because depression can make you feel so alone and isolated, getting enough support from family, friends and medical professionals is crucial to your recovery. Depression can last for years but if you have the right support AND USE THAT SUPPORT, you’ll find it much easier to cope. If you don’t want to confide in family or friends, there are self-help groups, both offline and online, that you can access. Sometimes anonymity can give you the confidence to reveal what you truly feel and ease those negative feelings.
Staying active will help you recover
Many people who fall into a deep depression give up doing all their usual activities. Whether it’s socializing, grocery shopping, playing sport, visiting the neighbors or doing basic housework, everything seems too much effort so they fall into a deep hole which can be almost impossible to escape without assistance.
You need to keep active. More oxygen pumps through your body and brain when you’re active and you’ll feel better once you complete a task or win a sporting game, etc. You need to stimulate your mind and body to aid in the healing process. If you don’t participate in your own recovery, nobody can help you.
The bottom line is that depression is an insidious, invisible disease but it’s as real as any physical condition. Refuse to let it get the better of you and be proactive if you notice symptoms occurring. Then you’ll find life will be easier to manage in the long-term.