Is Depression Sneaking Up on You?
I remember the first time anyone ever talked with me about their depression. It was an incredible experience. The person described the same extremely negative feelings I experienced about my life when describing her own. She even used the exact same words I’d used only days before when taking inventory of how I felt about myself. It was even more surprising to learn that there were other ways to think about life and that there were things I could do to help myself feel differently. I grew up in a household of depressed people so the feelings I’d been experiencing were not alarming—I just thought that’s how everyone went through life. It was later I learned that many people suffering from depression experience life in the same ways: feeling empty, worthless, unlovable, and like a failure; being lethargic (more than is normal), not liking to interact with others, and sometimes not able to complete even simple tasks like taking out the trash or even just going outside. One of the most telling and horrible parts of depression is that it actually makes you feel like your deserve to be this unhappy. Unlike those “oh my gosh, am I a freak?” moments when going through puberty, these things actually are a real problem and do need to be addressed. When trying to explain your feelings to friends or family members, they may have tried to be helpful by telling you that everyone gets sad sometimes, or that “you just have to decide to be happy!” Being depressed is not the same as being sad. Being sad is a reaction to an event; being depressed is a chemical imbalance that isn’t necessarily caused by any outside event (although it can be triggered and become worse by some things).
Do you find yourself continually thinking depressed thoughts? Are your sleep or eating patterns off? Do you think that you’re unlovable? You’re not, and you don’t deserve to feel that way! There is help and treatment can work. Talk to your primary care doctor and see if he or she has any recommendations for mental health professionals. You may want to try therapy; you may also want to see if medication is right for you. If you’re in college, check out whether your school’s Health Center offers any mental health services or can direct you to any other resources. It shouldn’t be a struggle to make yourself get out of bed or eat breakfast and it doesn’t have to be.
Check out “Get Help” tab above for resources. You can also look online: National Institute of Mental Health has some great information about depression and can help you find resources in your area.