What is depression?
Depression is when intense sadness including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless lasts for many days and weeks at a time, preventing an individual from living life. It is an illness just like any other that impairs a person mentally and physically. People with depression view life through a different lense clouding every thought, emotion, and feeling.
Depression is not something that you can just get over. You wouldn’t ask someone with diabetes to stop having diabetes, depression is the same way. It affects the chemical makeup of a person’s brain and changes it so they do not think or feel the same way as those without depression.
When someone is depressed they aren’t just “feeling sad.” It is so much more than having normal feelings of sadness. It affects every part of someone’s life, their thoughts, behaviors, feelings, physical health, the list goes on and on. Depression can affect anyone but it is important to know that depression is a treatable disease and that people are here to help. There are many resources and treatments available to people with depression.
Symptoms of depression
Feeling sad, empty, numb, worthless, hopeless
Loss of interest, motivation, or happiness
Irritability and crankiness
Constantly critical and complaining
Changes in sleep patterns or eating habits
Fatigue and loss of energy
Physical slowing of speech, movement, or thinking
Low self esteem and low self confidence
Poor concentration and indecisiveness
Thoughts of suicide and death
Abnormal behavioral problems
Persistent physical problems
What are the warning signs of suicide?
Sharing the thoughts of depression and sadness
Statements like “I just want to die” or “I wish I was never born”
Talking, writing, reading about suicide and researching methods of suicide
Giving away valuable possessions
Getting affairs in order: making a will, cleaning their bedroom for the last time, etc.
Telling people goodbye
Self destructive behavior
Significant changes in behavior and habits
Distancing themselves from loved ones
Withdrawal, moodiness, prolonged depression
Previous suicide thoughts or attempts
Engaging in reckless activities
Increased alcohol and drug use
Facts about Depression
1. 322 million people are living with depression worldwide
2. The total number of people living with depression globally has increased by 18.4% between 2005-2015
3. About 15 million people suffer from depression in the U.S. alone
4. It is estimated that about 500,000 adolescents attempt suicide and 5,000 succeed
5. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, however less than half of these people do not receive proper treatment
6. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-24
7. There is one death by suicide for every 25 attempts
8. Suicide risk is 37% higher in the first year after deliberate self harm than in the general population
9. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States
10. 1 out of every 8 adolescents has depression
11. Males are 4 times more likely to die from suicide than females
12. Females attempt suicide 3 times more than males
13. 1 out of 5 high school students will consider suicide
14. In America a person dies by suicide every 12.3 minutes
15. More people die from suicide than homicide
Myths and Misconceptions
1. Depression is not a “real” illness
An illness is defined as a disease or period of sickness affecting the mind or body. To claim that depression is not an illness is inaccurate when it is proven that there are biological, physiological, and psychological factors that influence depression. Depression is considered a complex mental disorder and it should be treated as such.
2. It is easy to “snap out of it”
Depression is a disease, not a choice. It is not something that you can simply “snap out of.” It is a complex disorder that requires treatment with medication, psychotherapy, etc. The brain of a depressed person is not the same as the brain of someone without depression. There is a chemical imbalance that causes depression. It is impossible for someone to simply fix that chemical imbalance without utilizing treatment options.
3. Depression can only be triggered by a tragic or traumatic event
A tragic event can heighten depression in someone who already has the disease but it is not often the root cause. In some cases, it can cause depression but it can also just cause sadness, one is a disease, the other is a natural response to the event.
4. If your parents have depression so will you
If there is a family history of depression it is more likely that you will have depression but it is far from a guarantee. Genetics are a risk factor but they are not a proven cause of depression.
5. Depression only affects women
Because of societal pressures, men are less likely to come forward and talk about their feelings and depression. This leads to the misconception that men do not have depression. Many men are affected by depression and are more likely to attempt suicide and be successful in killing themselves. Depression does not discriminate, it can affect anyone.
6. Antidepressants are the only way to get rid of depression
There are many ways to treat depression. Though antidepressants are a common form of treatment but they are not the only option. Psychotherapy or a combination of both can also be an effective method of treatment. There are multiple options for treatment and treatments are often tailored to the individual for best results.
7. Antidepressants change your personality
Though antidepressants change your brain chemistry, they specifically target the chemicals that lead to depression. They do not have the ability to alter your personality as a whole. There are many options for medication so if one has strong side effects it is easy to change the dosage or medication as a whole. Antidepressants help treat depression and allow people to manage their symptoms.
8. Talking about depression will only make it worse
Some people believe that talking about depression brings out the negative thoughts and makes them grow even stronger. The truth is being alone in your thoughts usually makes them worse and does not help the depression.