WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
If a mental health practitioner has just told you that you might be suffering from depression, don’t fret. There’s nothing really wrong about suffering from any form of illness and nobody should tell you otherwise. Also, some people might think that you’re on the edge of going crazy. Again, this is not right, and you should fret. In fact, if you can, avoid negative Nancy at all cost. They won’t do you any good.
Depression is a different kind of mental illness in that it makes you think that no one is willing or ready to be with you. Therefore, it’s important that you remember all this is not true, and there are so many people who would love to help you fight it. You just have to let them in, and not feel embarrassed in any way. Come to think of it, it’s been reported that 1 in every 4 people have experienced or are experiencing a significantly depressed mood.
No one is really immune to depression. It can affect anyone at any stage in life. So it doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert or introvert, youthful or elderly, socially active or shy, wealthy or poor, male or female. The point is, you can become depressed regardless your distinction. Hence, you are never alone.
But what does depression actually mean? It’s a word often used in our everyday vocabulary to describe different feelings such as disappointments, frustration, sadness, and even lethargy. But, from a clinical perspective, the word “Depression” is completely different from your everyday ‘down’ period in the following ways:
· It’s more intense
· Lasts longer than two weeks
· And significantly interferes with your day-to-day function
Today, we will be using depression to refer to clinical depression or major depression.
Depression As A Syndrome
What’s a syndrome? It’s a collection of feelings, behaviours, or events that go hand in hand. So a depression syndrome is just a collection of different behaviours and feelings that have been found to characterize people suffering from depression.
All the symptoms have different individual differences. In addition, the degree to which they are experienced is different. We know you’ve started feeling a little bit confused, so we’re going to go heavy on the details in the next section.
Mental health practitioners always refer to depression as a disorder of mood. A patient who’s suffering from depression will exhibit low moods for more than two weeks. However, that’s in severe cases. In mild cases, the patient might not feel bad the whole day but still show signs of gloom or have a dismal outlook. You’ll quickly notice their moods lifted with a positive experience only to drop suddenly with a minor disappointment. In a severe case, not even a positive experience can lift the patient’s mood.
A depressed patient won’t think the way a normal person does. They tend to think in certain ways, and it is this thinking that will help you tell if the person is really depressed. In fact, when you’re looking at the different symptoms of depression, “Thinking” will be top of that list.
Anyone suffering from depression will always see himself or herself in a negative light. They’ll always dwell on the things that make the world difficult, how bad the actually feel, how hopeless the future is, and how things will always be bad. They often have this sense of guilt, which makes them blame themselves for anything small, including the negative thoughts. Usually their self-confidence and self-esteem become very low.
There are people who also experience physical symptoms of depression. Examples are:
· Their sleep patterns change. Some will not be able to sleep or have their sleep interrupted, while other will sleep more than usual and find it hard staying awake.
· You’ll notice that their weight has fluctuated as a result of loss of appetite or increased appetite.
· Sexual interest will decline
· There won’t be any motivation to carry out the day to day activities due to low energy levels. A depressed person won’t even want to do the activities that they used to enjoy because they lack the motivation.
Interacting With Other People
Researchers found out that a lot of the people who have gone though depression, or those who are currently going through the treatments, often find it hard to maintain personal relationships. They will always express concern and blame themselves for it failing. If they used to be close to their families, they’ll start feeling unhappy and dissatisfied. In a group setting, they’ll always feel anxious if not shy.
You need to be very patient when interacting with a depressed person because the moment you make them feel lonely, isolated, or unwanted, their condition will worsen. Also, since they are unwilling to reach out for help, you’ll have to reach out first.
Raquel Soteldo RP(Q), MA, ABA, PMP, CCC