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Dealing with Depression and Those Affected by It

Updated on November 26, 2020

What is Depression?

Depression is often misunderstood. Many take to using the term colloquially, as synonym for general sadness. The unfortunate truth though, depression is much more than simple feelings of dejection at the end of a long day, or sadness after a hard break up. Its more malicious and, if left unchecked, can have a serious impact on both the afflicted and their loved ones. Hopefully the advice provided in this article will aid in the struggle.

A Few Facts about Depression

  • Oxford English Dictionary defines depression as "a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep."
  • One of the more common forms of depression is known as Major Depressive Disorder(MDD), also referred to as unipolar depression, clinical depression, and major depression. MDD symptoms include, but are not limited to; persistent low moods, deteriorated self esteem, and loss of interest in activities once found enjoyable.
  • In 2012 it was estimated that nearly 16 million adults in the U.S. suffered from at least one Major Depressive episode during the course of the year.
  • According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM) a Major Depressive episode is defined as a period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.

So What Can We Do About it?

Depression, because of its subjective nature, can be difficult to deal with as no singular piece of advice can be applied in all situations. With that said here are a few things that helped me in my struggles.

  1. Find Comfort in Others: One of thing that's always aided me in my quest for happiness is knowing that I don't have to suffer through hard times alone. Whether it be friends or family, try to find a person or people you can confide in without fear of being judged. Kind people aren't as hard to find as it may seem, so give it a shot.
  2. Try not to get discouraged: The road to happiness, or maybe just the road to contentment, is a long and bumpy one. There will be good and bad days, and it may seem at times the bad will outweigh the good by a large margin. So if you feel down and don't see an end, try not to worry it's a natural response. I assure you, everything is temporary and things will get better if you make an effort.
  3. Make an effort: Though it may seem obvious, without effort on your part things are likely to stay the same. I understand that finding the motivation to do so may seem like a daunting task, but its a task you will need undertake in order for things to improve.
  4. Start with Small Changes: Making positive changes without a doubt produces positive results, no matter how small the change may be. Something as seemingly insignificant as occasionally taking your dog out for a walk can help create a cycle of positivity.
  5. Don't bury your problems in Escapism: It's easy to abandon your problems. Escaping into you're favorite book, or an interesting game can seem like an easy fix, but all you're doing is shelving the issue to be revisited another day. And at times leaving these matters unaddressed, can cause them to worsen.
  6. Don't Wallow in Problems: As important as it is to face your issues head on, focusing solely on your problems can be frustrating and disheartening. So if ever you feel overwhelmed, take a break read that good book or play that fun game just don't let it consume you.

What Experience have you Had with Depression?

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What You can do to Help a Depressed Loved One

Suffering is painful, not just for the sufferer, but for those that care about them. Helping a depressive can be no doubt difficult, even seeming impossible at times. Though I assure you there are ways to help, here are a few.

  1. Be Supportive: Just making yourself available can mean the world. Be there when your needed to give advice, listen to complaints, or be a shoulder to cry on. It may be obvious but I feel obligated to mention it given its importance.
  2. Don't be Overbearing: Though your intentions may be pure, don't try too hard to fix their problems. What works for you will not always work for others, and pushing your point of view can feel nothing short of overwhelming to a depressive. In short don't add stress where it isn't needed.
  3. Intervene!!: If you feel your loved one is spiraling out of control do not hesitate to intervene. Find them help, even call the authorities if necessary. Anything to prevent them from doing something regrettable. Remember that sometimes people cannot handle their problems on their own, no matter how strongly they believe they can.
  4. Don't Give Up: I understand that it can be tempting to stop trying, to leave the loved one to their own devices. It can be demoralizing to put in so much effort and see little result. But I promise the efforts you make aren't in vain. So try not to get too discouraged, you are fighting the good fight.

In Conclusion

Depression is no doubt a serious condition. It breaks your will, and makes you feel as if you cannot bring yourself to be happy. Even going so far as having to motivate yourself to get out of bed in the morning. But fear not, it may sound cliché, but things will get better if you make an effort. Start with small changes, eventually they will accumulate, making a large impact. And finally don't give up--the temptation to let go can be immense--remember happiness is worth whatever effort you have to put in to attain it.


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