Depression is a signal that something is bothering you on a deep level. We all experience general sadness from time to time. It may come and go but does not linger. Depression lingers and can affect every aspect of our lives. Depression shows up differently in different people. Some people experience a sad mood most days while others can be irritable, moody, or angry. Some people pull away from others because they do not feel up to talking or being around anyone. Some may have difficulty getting out bed, experience a lack of motivation, a lack of interest in things that at one point was interesting, experience a change in sleep patterns or eating patterns, have difficulty concentrating, and/or feel worthless or hopeless. Any of these symptoms can make daily functioning difficult.
There could be any number of reasons why you’re feeling depressed including
A relationship in which your needs are not being met.
Grief related to the loss of a relationship, a loved one who has died, a job loss, or some goal or dream that may not be realized.
An expectation for a relationship or a person that was not met.
Loss of control in some area of your life
Dissatisfaction with some aspect of your life or life in general.
Past or recent trauma you’ve experienced.
Alcohol/drug use. Some people use alcohol and/or drugs to escape. This may temporarily work but when the high wears off you end up feeling worse because nothing has changed in daily life.
Depression can also be a seasonal thing where you experience it only during certain times of the year, more commonly during winter months but still possible during warmer months.
These are just some of the situations that could contribute to feelings of depression. When it comes to figuring out what to do about it, we often try to avoid it because of the negative stigma surrounding it. Add to that how depression affects our thinking often clouding our thinking and rather than deal with it, we may try to avoid it or ignore it. The negative connotations associated with being depressed range from “if you feel depressed then that means you’re crazy”, “there’s something wrong with you”, “you’re mental” to the idea that somehow you are weak for feeling depressed. But the fact is that being depressed does not mean any of these things. We can lose sight of getting to the bottom of what is going on by judging ourselves and our experiences in a negative way. Seeing it through a negative lens will cause you to not reach out for help because you fear the perception or you don’t like the way it sounds for yourself. The priority however isn’t how it sounds or what it looks like. The priority is to get to the bottom of what is going on so that you can problem solve your way through it. When we feel uncomfortable sometimes our go to is avoidance. We rationalize that if I just ignore it then it will eventually work itself out or just go away on its own. This is not true problem-solving and may hurt us in the long run because what we do not deal with today has the potential to come back when we least expect it.
Reach out for the help that you need: It can be difficult at times to know where to start or how to go about making things better. Here are some things that may help:
1. Who do you trust? Who is your support system? Who do you turn to when you have things going on that you can talk to? If you have no one, this could be a part of the problem you are experiencing. Is there someone you respect that you think might be able to point you in the right direction or would be helpful in providing some valuable insight into what you are facing?
2. Write it out. The use of journaling is helpful in putting our thoughts on paper. This allows us to put some distance between what we are feeling and thinking and allows us to see it from a different view. As we think about things they often sound logical in our heads. However, when we write our thoughts down they can sound quite different. We can hear the negativity or even how irrational the thoughts sound when we disconnect it from ourselves.
3. Study for yourself. Doing some self-study or your own research can be helpful. Finding books, workbooks, or worksheets on the topic of depression can educate you on what is happening to you. Knowledge is power and goes a long way in helping you to feel better. Sometimes just knowing what you are dealing with can feel relieving in some way.
4. Seek professional help. At any point you can seek professional help. It is especially important to seek professional help when you have done all that you know to do and are “stuck” or seem to not be making much progress. A trained professional can ask some different questions to help you explore any “stuck” points to help you get moving once again. Also, as you try things on your own and find your thoughts becoming darker or you start having thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself or others** then that would definitely be an appropriate time to seek out professional help.
**Having these types of thoughts can be scary and can even lead you to not wanting to continue working on things. These thoughts aren’t an indication of who you are as a person. They indicate you’ve hit a point of hopelessness and perhaps helplessness and worthlessness that you need to work through. Without intent or a plan these thoughts are just thoughts. They aren’t facts and they don’t always indicate that this is what you actually desire. They CAN be a symptom of depression but may not necessarily be present for everybody. If, however, you have thought of a plan and want to die and believe you are unable to keep yourself, please go to the nearest emergency room of your local hospital or call 911 for immediate assistance.
Until next time….