Synesthesian gives us her helpful, hopeful take on depression, and how she's dealt with it.–Sparkitors
I have a chronic disease.
While it isn't terminal, it's extremely inconvenient, and I'll probably be fighting against it my whole life. I get sore for no reason, I have migraines stemming from anxiety-related muscle tension, and I often have trouble sleeping at night, which makes me tired the rest of the time. I get mood swings, anxiety attacks, and deal with a lot of self-hate.
I have major depressive disorder, commonly known as depression.
Some of you might be surprised to hear depression referred to as a disease, rather than a state of mind. This is a common misconception. While "feeling depressed" is applied to any number of circumstances, clinical depression can be just as inhibiting and destructive as any other physical disease. I'll do my best to answer the most common questions in this article, but feel free to ask more in the comments!
So you have depression, boo hoo. Why don't you just take your happy pill and get over yourself?
Ah, the infamous "Happy Pill." While much of Depression is physiological, often caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain that physically prevents a person from feeling happy, depression is also psychological. A person with depression has settled into particular thought patterns, which continue even after the chemical problem has been treated. In short: Because depression is two-sided (physical and emotional), fixing either problem does not necessarily make the other one go away. Antidepressants, though very useful, can't fix everything.
What does it feel like to have depression? How do you know you're not just sad?
One of the main differences between "feeling sad" and "feeling depressed" is that sad people can be cheered up—your sad mood goes away. Depression, however, won't. J.K. Rowling actually fashioned Dementors after her personal experiences with depression, and she did an extremely good job characterizing the disease. There have been times where I've felt it was not possible to feel happy again.
Can't depression be a side effect from some medications? What should you do if you feel like you're getting it?
Yes, it can. And just because the medication is helping you, it is NOT worth the depression. Talk to your doctor as soon as you can, and try to work out other options. Never tell yourself to just "suck it up"!
What should you do if you feel like you, or one of your friends, is starting to feel depressed and/or suicidal?
While depressed people do not always feel the inclination toward suicide or self-harm, untreated depression can be extremely serious. If you notice a number of these symptoms in yourself or someone close to you, PLEASE GET HELP IMMEDIATELY. There is no shame in getting help for something you CANNOT do by yourself.
Here is a basic list of the most common symptoms:
A persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" mood
Sleeping too little or sleeping too much
Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
Restlessness or irritability
Persistent physical symptoms that don't respond to treatment
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Fatigue or loss of energy
Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless
Thoughts of death or suicide
On another note, if you know one of your friends is dealing with depression, there are a few things you should NEVER do:
Tease them about it
Joke that they forgot to take their “happy pills” if they’re feeling out of sorts
Tell them to get over it
Become distant because you don't know what to do
Become smothering because you're afraid they might kill themselves (Get help! You cannot handle this by yourself.)
Life with Depression is hard, I'm not gonna lie. But with counseling and medication, I'm just as happy and productive as anyone else.
For those of you with depression: I know it seems hopeless now, but it will get better, I promise. Fight back. It isn't worth giving in to. And if you think it isn't possible to be a great person, because of who you are and what you have, you're wrong: Winston Churchill had depression, as did Abraham Lincoln, Agatha Christie, Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas, and Charles Dickens.
If you're dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, or know someone who is, PLEASE call one of these free helplines:
0800 068 41 41
Do you have any questions for Synesthesian? Put 'em in the comments!
Related post: The Life of an Anxiety Sufferer
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