- Posted by Jon Harju
- On October 3, 2019
Depression is among the most common mental disorders and the most treatable, but it’s not always well understood, or easy to detect.
At some time in their life, an estimated 1 in 4 Canadians will have a degree of depression severe enough to need treatment.
But, it’s not one size fits all for depression.
In honour of destigmatizing this common mental health disorder, we delve into some truths that everyone should know.
What is depression?
Depression, from a medical standpoint, refers to feelings of sadness or low mood that lasts longer than two weeks and affects your everyday life.
What causes depression?
There is not one single cause of depression. It typically develops due to a combination of factors, such as life events (i.e. trauma or death of a loved one) and biological factors (i.e. genetics, hormones, or an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain).
People affected by depression often experience negative thinking patterns and may stop doing their normal activities. A vicious cycle can begin when your mood and motivation are low and consequently, you stop doing the things that you enjoy or that keep you feeling well. This leads to enhancing negative emotions even more.
Signs and symptoms of depression
Everyone experiences depression differently. There are many different types of depression and the impact can range from mild to severe. Typically, depression does not just ‘go away’ on its own. Depression does not discriminate and is not a sign of weakness or lack of will.
Examples of common depression signs and symptoms:
- feeling down or ‘numb’ for longer than two weeks
- losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
- difficulty concentrating
- lack of energy, or feeling fatigued
- negative self-talk
“Bad experiences don’t define you. They are something a person experiences, but they are not the person themselves. A person having a panic attack is not their panic attack. A person with depression, is not depression. You can walk in the rain, and feel the rain but, importantly, you are not the rain. I was not the rain. Metaphorically, I was soaked to my skin, but I wasn’t the rain.” – Matt Haig, mental health advocate and author of Reasons to Stay Alive.
What you may not have known about depression
- Depression does not need a good reason
Sometimes people become depressed following an incident and for what seems like a ‘good’ reason—but with clinical depression, this may not be the case. The chemicals in the brain responsible for mood control may be out of balance, causing you to feel low even though everything in your life is seemingly going well.
- Symptoms of depression may seem unrelated
Changes in eating, appetite, and sleeping patterns may not seem connected to depression but often accompany those who are struggling with low mood. Physical aches and pains, social withdrawal, and not caring about your personal appearance or hygiene can also be related to depression.
- Everyday tasks seem impossible
Depression can make you feel wiped of energy. Even simple tasks such as sending an email or making a cup of coffee can leave you exhausted. Focus on small goals and avoid overwhelming yourself. With depression, it is important to not let your mood determine what you do. Getting your feet moving, no matter how small can help you move towards positive change.
- You feel alone, even when you’re not
Even when someone else is in the room with you, depression may leave you feeling alone and isolated. You may know your loved ones care about you, yet you still feel unworthy of love and affection and that nobody understands you. This can make you want to withdraw and disconnect even more from others. Try to keep a journal listing all the people in your life who care about you, as a helpful reminder of your support network.
- Anger can underlie depression
When dealing with mental health issues or depression, it can be difficult to ask for help as there is still a stigma about having a mental health issue despite how common it is. However, getting help may be essential for you to live your best life possible. More than half of those who have had one major depressive episode will have future episodes as well. Therapy can minimize the chance of recurrence and teach you tools to reframe your negative thinking and combat the side effects of depression.
Shattering the depression stigma
We need to understand the truths about depression in order to demolish the stigma that often spans generations. While depression can be serious and difficult to manage, it is far from hopeless. The majority of those suffering from depression can be effectively treated. There are many different types of successful treatments and actions people can take to overcome this disorder, and it’s imperative to reach out for the professional mental health support you need and deserve.
Download Snapclarity to complete your free mental health check-up.