- Mental Health
It's Not Just a Mood
We've all seen the commercials about depression. The smiling woman after she's given medication is supposed to serve as a reassurance that depression can be overcome and/or controlled. Unfortunately, that reassurance means little to those who have not yet learned to deal with the diagnosis or those around them who think it's something the patient can overcome with willpower.
It doesn't help that in today's society, as much as we'd like to think we've become socially enlightened, we haven't. An advertisement on television or on the radio doesn't mean everyone "gets" or understands depression.
Most people have felt sad at some point in their lives and have gone through a "blue" period. Unfortunately, it's usually those people who are so quick to snap their fingers and tell a clinically depressed person to "shake it off" or "walk it off". That instruction is usually accompanied by the suggestion that the depressed person needs to stop thinking about whatever is getting them down. If only the cure for depression was really that simple.
PubMed Health describes clinical depression as "a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with every day life for weeks or longer." That is what a clinically depressed person is experiencing, not just a down in the dumps feeling that will go away with a bowl of ice cream and a night of watching sitcoms.
To make matters worse, some television and movie celebrities have denounced psychiatric illnesses, making them even more socially unacceptable. Because of this, some depressed people may never even seek treatment for fear of the stigma.
Clinical depression isn't something that will just go away. It doesn't get better on its own. Yes, it can be treated, but that's not reassuring to those who are wondering if the world around them will judge them.
No one can snap out of depression, and it's not laziness, self-pity, or attention-seeking behavior. Clinical depression is as real as diabetes, and it can be just as debilitating.
If you know someone in your life who has been diagnosed with depression. learn the facts about the illness. The more informed you are, the more you can help.