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15 Facts About Depression No One Will Tell You
Do you or someone you love suffer from depression? The World Health Organization estimates that more than 350 million people of all ages, all around the globe, suffer from depression. That would make depression one of the major causes of disability worldwide.
Most people who don’t suffer from depression think those who are depressed simply need to see a doctor, pop a pill, and they should be all right. However, if you are the one suffering from it, you know that is not the case. Others think that those with depression need to just “get over it” or “snap out of it”. If it were this simple, there would be no need for this article.
Feeling depressed in today’s modern world does not seem all that abnormal. Many people are forced into lives they don’t want, working at jobs they don’t like, to impress people they don’t care about, all so that they can fit into society’s idea of what is “right” and “normal.”
This why it is important to live the life you want, not what someone tells you is the right thing to do. Take time to do things you love. Take steps to change the things in your life that you aren’t happy with. Of course, some things cannot be changed, such as our age or our height. For things you cannot change, take steps to learn how to accept them.
There are many things you have probably already been told about depression. Your doctor or therapist has more than likely already discussed this with you. However, there are plenty of other things that people just don’t like to talk about when it comes to depression, almost as if depression is a dirty little secret.
There is nothing to hide about depression, no more than with cancer or the flu. It is what it is. Let’s talk about it, shall we?
1. Depression Is Exhausting
Everyone tells you to get up, get moving, go out, do things, and keep busy, but the fact is that depression is absolutely exhausting, both mentally and physically. That negative little voice in your head that is constantly nagging you about how you screw up everything, no one would like someone like you, you are worthless, etc., seems to zap all your energy. Trying to tell that voice to shut up is like trying to move a mountain. Depression seems to trigger insomnia, also, messing up your sleep pattern, so you constantly feel exhausted, because … you are!
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2. Antidepressants Can Make Things Worse
Although antidepressants can be a lifesaver for some people, for others, they actually make depression worse. The journal Medical Hypothesis published a review which found that rates of depression are actually increasing, despite the use of pharmaceutical drugs. This indicates that antidepressants aren’t really solving anything for many people. If antidepressants do not seem to be helping you or if you feel worse, do not be afraid to talk to your doctor about getting off of them and finding alternatives.
3. Depression Does Not Mean You Are Weak Minded
Depression is not a choice, it is a disease. No one would ever dream of telling a cancer patient that they need to forget about it and “snap out of it.” Why do people feel that they can say this to people with depression? Depression is an illness that needs treatment. In fact, those who suffer from depression and fight to beat it are perhaps the strongest of them all. When faced with anything difficult, it is easy for people to just give up and say that they can’t do it or that they can’t do anything about it. Truly strong people fight, and keep fighting, no matter how tough the situation might be.
4. Depression Distorts Things
Unfortunately, when you are depressed, your brain can make you think that all sorts of things are going on, that people are saying or doing terrible things, or that situations are hopeless when that really isn’t the case. Depression is a malfunction of the brain, so it only makes sense that your thoughts are distorted as well. If you should feel suicidal or have thoughts about hurting yourself because of these distorted views, please call someone immediately to talk about it. You will probably see that you need a fresh pair of eyes to view the situation correctly.
5. Depression Will Make You Feel Guilty
Being depressed can make you feel terribly guilty, but it shouldn’t. When you can’t do things with your family, when you simply cannot attend a function or, some days, even get out of bed, don’t feel guilty about it. You wouldn’t expect someone with the flu to go ice skating, so why feel badly that you can’t do it either? Depression will cause you to feel unrealistically negative about yourself. Tell yourself that you are merely ill and that this, too, will pass.
6. Depression Can Leave You Feeling Crabby
Unfortunately, most people think that when you are depressed, you should go around crying all the time. This isn’t an accurate depiction. Many people experience persistent irritability. Don’t let someone tell you that you can’t be depressed if you are crabby most of the time.
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7. Depression Can Be Hard to Talk About
Mental health issues, like depression, remain the virtual black sheep of the health care world because those in health care don’t fully understand it, what causes it, or what they can do about it. Rather than admit this, it all just gets swept under the rug. When you mention that you have depression, watch people look at you funny, turn away, or freeze up with that deer in the headlight look. It’s difficult enough to admit you have depression, but with attitudes like this, is it any wonder that people have difficulty talking about it to anyone?
8. Depression Is Hard on Your Family
Even if they don’t understand it and don’t know how to help you, depression is also difficult for your family and loved ones. Your spouse might start to feel that you don’t love them anymore. Friends might feel that you are pulling away from them for reasons other than your depression. It is also difficult for them to understand how you feel. Try explaining to the people you love that it’s the old “it’s not you, it’s me” problem and that you are working on it as best you can. Ask them to be patient and understanding. Those who love you will be both.
9. Depression Is Numbing
Like those who feel crabby most of the time, other people experience depression as numbing. They don’t necessarily feel sad, but they don’t feel happy. They don’t feel anything and that is something terrible to deal with. You’ve probably heard that the color black is actually the absence of color? Depression can sometimes be the absence of any feeling, good or bad. So, yes, you can still be depressed even if you don’t feel sad, even when you don’t feel anything at all.
10. Medication Does Not Mean Surrender
Many people feel that they should fight their depression and that if they resort to medication, they are admitting defeat. This is not true. Anti-depressants do work for many people. This is a disease that usually needs treatment. You wouldn’t think of someone with pneumonia as weak for taking antibiotics, so why feel bad about taking medication? Taking meds is not a sign of weakness or surrender, but a tool that can get you back to a more normal life.
11. Depression Is Not Selfish
You might be accused of being selfish when you can’t join in and do things with others. Because depression cannot be seen, it can be difficult for those who do not have it to understand how you feel. No one wants to be depressed; no one chooses to be depressed. When people are sick, even if you can’t see it on the outside, they need to be cared for. Taking care of yourself is not selfish, but survival.
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12. Depression Is Not Forever
That is perhaps one of the best things you can keep in mind. Depression is not a forever disease. You might go through periods of it off and on throughout your life, but it does end. Think of your depression like the weather. Even if it is really dark and rainy today, that doesn’t mean it will be raining forever. The rain will end one day.
13. Depression Is Not a Black and White Issue
As we mentioned earlier, because depression seems to affect people differently, what works for one person might not work for you. Work on practicing self-care, establishing a routine that you can actually do, and take those baby steps. It might seem like everyone around you is doing fine and feeling good, but that is a façade. Don’t focus on everyone else, do what works for you.
14. No One Knows What Causes Depression
No matter what someone might tell you, no one knows what causes this disease. Most experts believe that it is a combination of environmental factors (such as stressful events or trauma) and genetics. Don’t let anyone tell you that your depression is due to X or Y. No one really knows how it starts or why it affects some people and not others.
15. Depression Stinks
Depression is sucky at best but it also stinks. Literally. You know what we are talking about. Depression can make getting out of bed and taking a shower, then changing into clean clothes feel as if you are trying to climb Mount Everest. When your self-worth is at an all-time low and you don’t see the point to anything, this is when it is most important that you try to at least take care of yourself, even if you do nothing else. Those little things, like showering and brushing your hair, can truly help you to feel better about yourself. Write out a list of small self-care chores and mark them off with a damn gold star when you complete them, because you deserve it.
Please remember that you are important and that people do care. Call someone when you need to and don’t feel embarrassed to ask for help. Keep in mind that you aren’t weak or needy or anything other than sick. Sick people need to be cared for until they heal. One day, you will heal. You can count on it.