The Struggle of Depression
June, 9th, 2016 - We all know depression to be a mental disorder that has become fairly common throughout America and abroad. It is one of the most common mental disorders in fact and includes sufferers from all walks of life. I am sure each one of us has known someone who has suffered from depression at one point in time, suffer from depression ourselves, or have heard stories of what its like for someone to suffer from depression. This article is going to shed some more light onto this mental illness and provide a look at my own struggle with this very powerful, sometimes crippling, disease.
So what is "depression"?
As with most mental disorders depression can be defined a number of ways. You have the textbook definition, the social definition (how society may describe depression; in my opinion), and then you have depression as defined by someone who has suffered from and battled with the disease for most of their life. Lets take a quick look here.
Depression is defined as :
noun: depression; plural noun: depressions
- 1.feelings of severe despondency and dejection."self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression"
- PSYCHIATRY: 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."she was referred by a psychiatrist treating her for depression"synonyms: unhappiness , sadness , melancholy , melancholia , misery , sorrow , woe , gloom , despondency , low spirits , a heavy heart, despair , desolation , hopelessness; upset ,tearfulness; informal the dumps, the doldrums, the blues, a funk, a blue funk; dysthymia , seasonal affective disorder , SAD "she seems to be suffering from depression"
- (Source : GOOGLE)
As you see already that there is much more to this than what a first look can reveal. Depression can become very entangled, interwoven, cross diagnosed, and it affects each individual differently, sometimes drifting afar from this textbook meaning all the while keeping the same tome of subject matter. What we gather from reading depression defined is a feeling that is low, unwanted, sad, and typically a feeling that we all try best to avoid in any situation. This overall definition fits the bill pretty well so this is why I have chosen to go ahead and use this.
Clinical depression is one of the most common reasons people seek out mental health services as evidenced by the fact that it has a lifetime incidence of 20% in women and 12% in men. Those numbers are huge when you factor in the United States population.
- Female Population 2016 - 164,094,612
- Male Population 2016 - 159,993,891
These numbers reflect the current United States population of men and women and does not reflect any specific race, religion, or any ethnicity factors whatsoever. Lets take these numbers and convert them into how many clinically depressed Americans that struggle everyday in our country.
- Female population suffering from Depression - 32,818,924 (estimated)
- Male population suffering from Depression - 19,199,268 (estimated)
Just like I had stated, these numbers are HUGE. Before I started my research into this subject for the sake of this article I had no idea at all that I was going to discover that there are so many people out there suffering like I suffer, like friends I have met suffer. So when we hear that we are not alone, we are really REALLY not alone in this disease. Part of the disease though will always make us feel like we do suffer alone even if we now knwo for a fact that it is fairly common. That, in part, is a reason as to why this disease is so harmful and powerful among a long list of other symptoms.
Depression has been studied repeatedly over the years and it is discovered that there is no "one cause" of depression. This is due to the fact that between each patient their symptoms and reactions to the illness vary so much and each individual can be triggered by any number of things in their lives. Some of the major causes of depression can be listed as job loss, death of a loved one, breaking up with boyfriend/girlfriend, divorce, bankruptcy, or really any other traumatic and negative life event. We all handle events in our lives at varying degrees and we all view different events in our life in different ways. Going through a break up or divorce might not be that big of a deal to one person but to the next person it could be the most stress inducing, depression laden, horrible traumatic event in their life. Same goes for any of the other things I have listed. We are all not the same in the ways we think and handle things. That is what makes us beautiful as individuals. This leads me into defining depression another way.
The other population in the united states do not know what it is like to have this disease and thus creating a barrier and a break down of understanding. A sad reality is going to be revealed now. WHO IS "PERSON A" TO TELL "PERSON B" THAT THEY ARE WEAK OR LESS THAN BECAUSE OF THE WAY "PERSON B" IS AFFECTED BY A NEGATIVE LIFE EVENT? The stark reality of this question is that there exists a large amount of judgmental people in the world and that society overall views a lot of "negative life events" as something that can easily be overcome or that can be fixed with a little determination. Remember, there are more of the population that DOES NOT suffer from this disease than that DOES suffer from it. So with majority rule in place, this is what makes sufferers feel like they are inadequate, alone, and many of the other feelings that come along with depression. You reading this may be a good person, a person who does not have a mental illness and you might also be an understanding caring compassionate person but that is only you. A lot of people do exist that view "mental illness" as something negative or people that just do not understand depression so they often times give advice to the sufferer that may in fact do more damage to their thought process which could sometimes prove to be dangerous and or deadly.
Before I go into my own personal struggle with something I have not yet begin to fully overcome we will now look into some other factors of interest when discussing this topic. I gauge now that we all have a basic concept of depression and what it is and if there are any questions left at all, please feel free to use the COMMENT section to ask or further discuss the topic.
The down side of being down...
When you think of depression yourself, what all can you list that a person might also suffer from which depression would, partially or in full, CAUSE ?
Of course I can not speak for anyone, I can only invite other people to ask themselves and challenge themselves when thinking of how they feel about the topic. these are a few symptoms I can list after I researched the subject.
- Feelings of sadness, fearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren't your responsibility
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
These signs and symptoms are sourced directly from the Mayo Clinic. This is just a short list in all probability because personally I could add to and take from this list. Some of the most common and severe signs and symptoms are listed.
So if you had zero knowledge of depression before this article, what does this list say to you? Are you surprised?
I can remember before depression entered my life vaguely what it was like to be happy, consistently, and without some of these other feelings associated with depression. It was only until after I was first diagnosed at a young age that I actually could put a name to some of my feelings because I was so young at the time. I had no idea why my young happy adolescent years were being tarnished with all these other new feelings I had started to feel. I had no idea what to think at the time. Some were more than others and some were less of course but all of the feelings listed here at one time or another, I have felt myself in different amounts.
So the big, scary, horrific symptom of depression as well all may know is SUICIDE. Suicide is very real and very much a terrible reality to someone suffering from depression at its worst without seeking help and allowing it to go unchecked or the depression then getting more severe. This is the entire point of this article. To bring to light something that seems to me to be taboo in our culture still. Something that does not seem to be talked about as much as it should be talked about. In my eyes, depression and suicide should be talked about on a family level just as much as sex and what happens when two consenting adults have sex; pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. I feel this way because from what I have seen in my life, depression and sex enter into the young adult mind at about the same age and can actually go hand in hand in some instances.
Have you suffered from depression or have been suicidal?
WHY I WROTE THIS ARTICLE
A few days ago I was meeting up with my friend. She was driving and I had to use public transit to meet her so I could get in the car. I live in St. Louis and I was using the train system to get to where I need to be this night. I got off of the train at the "Brentwood/I-64" stop along the Blue Line Train. It was a warm night, a near perfect night. I had gotten off of the train around 9:15pm on a Thursday night. This stop is mainly used for park-and-ride commuters because of the huge, almost always empty, 10 story parking garage. I was standing, smoking a cigarette talking to the female Metro Security Guard that was working that night. We have brief conversations somewhat regularly when we see each other along the train system. Standing there just talking we then hear a male voice which sounded in distress. A sort of crying sound. We looked around and just could not see where it was coming from. It was kind of strange to us at that point. Having no idea what to make of the sound we were hearing we continued to talk. Then we heard a screaming and just when we looked over to our right, we had witnessed a man jump from the 10th story of the parking garage onto the pavement below. We then ran over to this person to see if there was anything we could do....
There. Was. Not.
Suicide is permanent folks. I have had several close friends in the past that have been victims of suicide and have left their families, friends, and others that cared for them behind. This was my first and hopefully only experience of suicide and the aftermath that was right in front of my face. It was not an experience with suicide where a friend would call me, or I wouldn't see someone around for a while only to then learn of what had happened. This was right in my face. I could not ignore this and it truthfully has changed me. I have had a hard time sleeping since and my mind keeps replaying what I had seen that night.
We all need to start discussing depression with our children. We all need to start taking the feelings of others into account before we say or do things that may affect another human being. You NEVER know what is going on in the mind of someone else at any given time people. We need to break the taboo of talking about depression openly and discussing suicide openly among our families, friends, others in public. Just because someone is depressed or feeling suicidal does not mean that they are LESS or WEAK just because someone else can handle a particular life event better than another. This is what is creating a separation and isolating people who suffer from depression. Trust me, I know. I have often been treated badly for being depressed, been made fun of, been called names that would indicate that I am not a "real man" because I was sad, I have even attempted suicide before and many of my close friends and family have no idea. They have no idea that within the past year of my life, I have thought about killing myself at least once a day during the winter and into the spring of 2016. I tried turning to the person closest to me, someone I love with all of my heart, and that person made me feel so much worse and like I was NOTHING. I can not describe how low I had felt. This is WHY we need to create a society that openly and freely has dialogue of meaning and depth on depression and being sad. A person should NEVER feel like they have no one to talk to just because they are made to feel weak or "less than" for wanting to discuss why they feel suicidal or depressed. A person should never refer to someones depression or suicidal thoughts as "God, you are soooo dramatic! You are like a woman!" Together I am sure we can create an atmosphere among all of our peers that if someone feels this way, that they can then freely discuss without fear of being judged or made to feel even worse. Going to a professional for help is not always the first thing that comes to mind. Usually those of us who suffer from depression will turn to our closest friend or family member. Sometimes....we have NO ONE to turn to because of the way society has partially stigmatized suicidal thinking and depression.
I hope this article has helped at least one person with their understanding. I will be returning to this article for further editing and adjustments in the coming days. I HAD to get this out there in the public eye as fast as possible. I wanted to share this with all of you. I hope you can take something from it.
In brief conclusion...
If you take anything from this articler at all...please take what I said about speaking about depression openly to your heart. Please go out and discuss the topic of depression and suicide with someone today, tomorrow, within the next few days. Always remember that with statistic numbers like I have shown, you will always be around someone who suffers from this deadly disease. So please, I urge you to be more diplomatic and thoughtful when talking to other human beings. You will NEVER know if that day in particular they are feeling more depressed than ever before in their life. Sufferers often times mask how they feel with a smile. You would never know if the person you had an argument with in traffic, at a store, etc at 10am this morning will leave that situation feeling like they should end their life due to what you may have said when you were upset or angry. Never speak angry or when upset to your loved ones, especially when they suffer from depression, just in case you might say something that would trigger an avalanche of symptoms for them. Just be caring toward one another. Practice love and not hate. It really can't be that difficult can it??
Be well my friends. :-)