Understanding Depression

Today I’d like to touch on a topic which I feel doesn’t get spoken of nearly enough. This topic is depression. So many people suffer from depression, and there are a lot of false ideas and stigmas surrounding the disease and those affected by it. I’m here to make the problem of depression more public and help increase understanding on the issue.

About depression

First off, what is depression? We use the word so much and yet I feel too few people really understand what it is. Simply put, depression is a very real mental disorder which influences one’s ability to feel joy, and in many cases, anything at all. Those who are depressed may feel as if they are emotionally suffocating, or as if they are surrounded by darkness. In short, it’s no fun at all.

When we get depressed, we tend to lose our appetite and our drive to get up and do anything. It can seem to friends and family as though we are just closing ourselves off, and so they instinctively tend to give us space. Why? I have no idea. This presents a problem, though, because it simply makes the one who is depressed feel even more isolated and closed off.

Often, depression is caused by abnormal dopamine cycles in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that is crucial to making one feel fulfilled and happy, so when it isn’t released in the brain often enough or for a long enough time, it results in a state of depression. There are many other causes of depression as well. While we don’t fully understand what all of the causes for depression are, we can still do all we can to help one another find peace in difficult times.

“It can’t be that bad”

I’m sure many of you have heard these words either implied or otherwise when you have tried to confide in a friend how you’re feeling. This may make you feel as though you somehow shouldn’t be hurting in the way you do, or maybe you’re just being to negative. As if maybe you should just force yourself to “buck up” and act as though you’re happy and the problem would simply go away. That does just about as much good as ignoring a broken leg. You get up and walk around and pretend that nothing’s wrong, but the problem just gets worse very quickly. Just like any other health problem, we need to acknowledge what’s going on and take steps to fix it if we want to go anywhere good.

So yes, it can be that bad. Your depression is a very real thing, even if others can’t see it or don’t understand how you’re feeling. If someone doesn’t quite seem to get what you’re going through, try to let them know how it feels. Vent about it a little to your loved ones. This can help a lot, and it may help them see that you have an actual problem to deal with.

Will I ever feel happy again?

Short answer: yes. Of course, that’s probably not quite the answer you were looking for. A huge characteristic of depression is the idea that you won’t ever feel joy again. As hard as it is to believe, If you stick it out and be strong, you can and will be happy again. I’m not saying that to imply that it is somehow easy to do, because it simply isn’t. It is, however, possible.

It starts with doing everything you can to see the good in your life. It sounds and feels ridiculous at first, but it really can make a difference. Force yourself to think about little things that bring you joy. It could even be as simple as the sound of leaves blowing in the wind or a text from a good friend. This won’t necessarily solve the problem, but it’s a step in the right direction. After a while, you’ll be able to notice the things that make you happy more and more, which can take your mind off of the depression.

It is crucial in times of depression that you seek help. Don’t put it off. This help could come in the form of a loved one, but in more serious times of depression you shouldn’t hesitate to go see a professional counselor or someone else with the training and skills to help you out. Just be sure to communicate. Let someone know how you’re feeling. This can lessen the feeling of being alone and bring you a lot of strength.

Another thing that can help a lot, if you are a religious person or believe in a higher power, is prayer. Let God know how you’re feeling and ask for his help. Seek for advice from your ecclesiastical leader. That can be a significant source of help. Be sure and use all of your resources. One thing that I have personally come to know is that God is there and He actually does care about each of us. This includes you. So let Him help you.

Conclusion

Depression is hard—to say the least. You need to know, however, that there is always hope. There will always be a brighter day ahead. Don’t let yourself doubt that. I promise that you CAN be happy again. Just keep fighting and be strong. For those that know someone who is suffering from depression, be a friend. Let them vent their feelings to you and encourage them to seek help. If you are afraid that their health or safety may be at risk, contact someone.

In the meantime, help us spread understanding on this important issue.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment with any suggestions you’ve found helpful in combating depression. Added resources will be listed below.

DISCLAIMER: The author has not received formal training for treating depression. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, please seek professional help.

–Flint Miller

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