“There's nothing, repeat, nothing to be ashamed of when you're going through a depression. If you get help, the chances of your licking it are really good. But, you have to get yourself onto a safe path.”—Mike Wallace
Constant stress for a long period of time breaks down your ability to cope with even the simplest of problems. Family issues, job loss and money problems can just wear you down over time. One thing is certain: depression is a debilitating illness that can leave you feeling hopeless.
Sometimes depression is described it as a sense of despair that swallows you whole. There just doesn’t seem to be a break from the pain from this illness. Many people try to self-medicate with alcohol, drugs or other substances just to feel better for the moment. The sad part is that depression is still around the next day and the depression most likely is worse.
Depression seems like it takes everything away from you; it robs your energy, focus, concentration, and especially your happiness. You just don't care about anything; nothing matters and even the people you love become unimportant.
I worked with so many people with depression on the psychiatric unit. Kate, a middle-aged woman was admitted with severe depression. “I feel like I have lost myself. I don’t even know who I am anymore.” Kate went on to talk about how she couldn’t connect with her husband anymore. She slowly began to isolate herself and stopped leaving her home.”Nobody understands me or the depression.” Kate truly believed she was a bad person and somewhere lost her worth as a person. “How could anyone love me?” she said.
As we worked together in occupational therapy, Kate talked about a time in her life that she idealized.” When I was skinny years ago, I felt like people loved me more. I just want to get that back.” She went on to say how she used food, alcohol and drugs to get that feeling back from years gone by.
Physical Issues with Depression
Depression doesn't only take its toll on your emotions and mental state; it can cause physical problems as well. Depression may cause you to either lose your appetite or eat for comfort. It also zaps your energy and motivation.
In addition, depression can lead to:
1. Lack of sleep. A symptom of depression is problems with your ability to sleep. Trouble getting and staying asleep can interfere with day to day functioning.
2. Problems with appetite. When depressed, you can lose your appetite or seek out eating too much to make you feel better.
3. Aches and pains. When you're depressed, the chemicals in the brain that signal pain are as affected as the chemicals in your brain that help you feel happy. Physical aches and pains are increased, which in turn, kicks in the sad feelings and the cycle begins again.
4. Hygiene problems. Someone suffering from depression doesn't have the energy or the motivation to be concerned with self-care, like showering or getting dressed.
What are the Symptoms of Depression?
These are some specific things those with depression experience:
• Constant sadness about everything
• Insomnia or trouble sleeping
• Trouble concentrating
• Loss of interest in things that once interested them
• Feeling worthless, useless and strangely guilty for no reason at all
• Serious change in weight, one way or the other
• Lack of energy and fatigue
As depression progresses, it feeds on itself like a snowball rolling downhill. The longer someone is depressed, the worse the depression gets until they see no way out of it at all. They become resigned to being miserable all the time. Feeling misunderstood is common, where the depressed person thinks that others couldn’t possibly get what they are going through.
If you know someone who is depressed, the best thing you can do is be a friend. Talk to your friend and just be there for support. Encourage counseling or professional help.
If you think you may be depressed and it’s beyond stress, talk to your health care provider. Depression doesn't have to consume your life. Help is available.