“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”
― Elizabeth Wurtzel
Humans are designed to feel negative emotions to some extent. Sadness, grief, guilt, loneliness, and many other such feelings come our way every now and then. But, unlike fleeting negative emotions, depression negatively affects our whole being—the way we feel, think, and act—for either an extended period of time, or in recurring episodes.
Let’s take a look at depression, its symptoms, and how it can be alleviated.
What is depression?
Depression can mean different things to different people. We all feel sad and overwhelmed countless times in our lives. Sometimes, these feelings can stay with us for a while. Many people use the word "depression" to describe their experience when going through such a phase. But depression goes beyond feeling sad.
Depression causes you to feel confused and lonely, helpless, unmotivated, and uninterested in any or all activities of life. With the emptiness it makes you feel on the inside, every offer of help or suggestion for a solution seems futile, if not aggravating. It feels like there’s no relief in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. Many depressed people are consumed by their depression to the point that they don't even consider seeking support, and for some, the depression worsens as a result of not having someone to turn to. This lack of compassion and support sometimes even leads to suicide.
Depression can also cause many other life-threatening diseases. For example, a National Institute of Health study found that adults with depressive symptoms or disorders are 64 percent more likely to have coronary artery disease. In addition, depression also weakens your immune system, increases pain sensitivity, and causes complications in the digestive system which lead to eating problems.
Symptoms of depression.
The symptoms of depression don't show on the outside. You have no injury, and no visible disability; which is why others overlook it and you feel so lonely. But these symptoms can be just as serious, and you should never shy away from seeking help. Let’s look at some of the major symptoms.
· Anxiety: Anxiety is a common symptom that follows the constant sadness of depression. Feeling anxious while you’re stressed might be natural, but depression makes anxiety an ongoing problem for you.
· Loneliness: Another symptom of depression is feeling lonely. You feel alone and unwanted, with no one to turn to. You might sometimes desire human interaction, but your mental condition makes it more difficult for you to establish relationships.
· Overthinking: Overthinking is dwelling over something too much or for too long. It causes you to become more stressed, lose your imagination, cloud your judgement, and take away your ability to make decisions.
· Suicidal thoughts: Suicidal feelings can range from vague thoughts about ending your life to the belief that everyone will be better off without you. These thoughts can be frightening or perplexing. It's possible that you'll find the emotions overwhelming. Many people consider suicide at least once in their lives.
Therapy can help.
If you’re feeling any of the symptoms of depression, remember that you're not alone: many people suffer from depression and recover from it, and the more people talk about it, the easier it becomes to recover. It’s important to keep in mind that there are people who are willing to listen. If you think you may be depressed, talk to a loved one or, better yet, see a psychologist.
Depression can be treated effectively with therapy, medication, diet, and exercise, among other options. People with severe depression who receive therapy are more likely to improve, according to a 2014 study published in JAMA Psychiatry.
Therapy works as a source of support and compassion. According to research, people getting therapy do 79% better than the ones who aren’t. And, in cases of severe depression, a study from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health found that even a few sessions with a therapist can significantly lower the risk of suicide.
Unfortunately, less than half the people suffering from depression get treatment for it. If you find yourself, or a loved one, suffering from depression, please know that there are people who can help. You don’t have to go through it alone. Things seldom get better when they're left on their own.
Therapy can help.
Therapy is a journey and, like every journey, the experience of it is different for everyone. But, in simple words, it’s a conversation with your therapist. Each session will assess where you are and the status of the problem that brought you in. Remember that therapy is a gradual process that develops over time and each therapy session is a step in the right direction.
Therapy gives you a place where you can let all your walls down and be completely vulnerable. Naturally, it doesn’t happen instantly; that’s where the gradual process comes in. You can talk about everything that's on your mind during therapy, and your therapist will listen. Your talks with your therapist are private, so you can be open and vulnerable about yourself. Along the way, your therapist will offer insights and assist you in deconstructing and understanding what you just shared with him/her, and if necessary, assign you a task or topic to think about.
No matter how hopeless life may seem to you right now, there are people who care about you and who would love to help you through this. If you or a loved one are suffering through depression, consider getting therapy; it helps.