Understanding: Depression

de·pres·sion /di-presh-uhn/ [noun]: the act of depressing; the state of being depressed; sadness; gloom; dejection; Psychiatry. a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason. Compare clinical depression.

In light of some recent developments in my world concerning an individual very very near and dear to my heart, I’ve decided to express some personal opinions concerning depression.

One thing that has always annoyed me about this is the fact that, if you have depression, people treat you as if you have sprouted a second head. In the rare case that they do not view you in this light, they still tread around you as if you are a small child on the verge of a temper tantrum.

Also, yes, it is an illness. It is a chemical imbalance in the brain. It in most cases does need medical treatment to be tended to. If you think people who have this illness are stupid for taking medication, well…I wish you could trade places with them and see how it feels before you open your trap.

I suppose I should go ahead and state now that I have dealt with it on a personal level myself. I, despite what I previously stated, have never gone to a doctor, so I obviously have not been medicated. I realize at some point this may be a mistake, but for the moment, it is one I am sticking by for myself. I do admit that back in the 90s, I did make an attempt on my life with pills. I was alone, but fortunately, I was obviously not successful with this. Then, I was angry, but now…not so much. Of course, I do have my days where I wish it had worked, but that is what I call a relapse into negative, which I’m trying to work on not doing so much.

Now, there are several different types of depression, and I do believe I shall share those with you, just so you know them. Dysthymia is the mildest of depressions (if you can imagine anything depression related being mild), and it is also sometimes associated with other illnesses such as bipolar disorder. Dysthymia occurs over most days for years, but with less severity than other forms. Seasonal affective disorder is just as it sounds, depression where the worst of things seem to occur in certain seasons. Postpartum depression happens most often in the first weeks following childbirth, but can happen along the first year of the child’s life. It basically affects the mother’s ability to bound with their child, which is different from the ‘baby blues’ which occur shortly after birth in some women, but dissipates of it’s own accord later on.

Like I said previously, depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. These chemicals (neurotransmitters) are supposed to carry ‘messages’ to and from your brain and nerves. Consider depression a flood in the midst of the highway, throwing things off a good bit. Huge factors of depression are family history, trauma and stress, a pessimistic personality, physical conditions (such as cancer, AIDS, heart disease, and various other things), and other psychological disorders. There is no set group of people that depression can strike, in my mind anyway. I’ve seen it in the young, the old, the physically fit, the sick….it doesn’t matter really. It can happen to any of us.

The most difficult thing in this illness, outside of admitting to yourself and even others that you have it, is going out to get help for it. Help comes in the form of a doctor’s care, medication (which sometimes, you have to try several types before you get the one that works for you), and sometimes even psychotherapy. This help, while sometimes begrudged, is the best course of action on the road to getting better.

It makes me sad to know that, given the choice between telling people they have depression and making up some tale of another illness that seems less severe or more sympathy worthy in their mind, most often the depression sufferer will go with the made up reason to avoid being treated too differently. It’s not wrong to be depressed, and I don’t think we should have to hide it. There should be more programs and the like worldwide to help with this illness. It helps claim more lives in most countries in the long run than any other disease, or at least comes close to it…from what I hear.

I think I’ll wrap this up with a few links about depression.

* Depression Web Resources
* Clinical Depression on Wikipedia
* Depression Is Real
* Say How You Feel
* Depression and Bipolar Alliance

Update: I want to add a footnote to this old article, which I had posted up on deviantART.com ages ago. In the article, I state I had never been to a doctor to be treated for depression. This is no longer the case. I finally decided to talk to a medical doctor as well as counselors and the like, and I am now taking some medications (except for when I forget about them) and have mostly learned how to cope. I say mostly because I do still have my lapses, and in those moments I do still shut myself down and start avoiding people, whether that be in person or online. I am still working on myself and trying to get past avoidance, but tis not an easy thing.