The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.”
So much for the simple, painful facts regarding depression. The myths about depression could make a person feel worse. So can the fact that some people in the medical and mental health professions believe the untruths or use them to manipulate unhappy people! This slideshow alerts us to the painful reality that working harder might mask depression not end it, that depression is incorrectly described as an act of selfishness rather than a genuine emotional reaction to loss, that depression must always result in crying though it really does not, and that depression is forever, a problem that must be medicated.
Some of the facts about depression include that it can be caused by loneliness, triggered by different parts of the life cycle, and that it can be experienced at every age, by males and females. Babies and older children are known to feel depressed after a parent dies or divorces, and after they relocate to new homes or experience situations. Men and women face frustrations, limitations and other issues that leave them depressed. Even winter’s reduced daylight hours can cause depressing Seasonal Affective Disorder. Depression is not limited to time, circumstances or gender. Many things can induce it.
The US surgeon general’s Prescription for Happiness is one way that America is seeking to overcome depression. Other methods include the pursuit of meaningful hobbies and the use of depression-busters. Creative outlets invite upbeat moods and laughter.
If your efforts to overcome depression seem hampered by indifferent or cruel people, even baseless rumors, seek out the solutions that are working for other people. Going from stressed to feeling blessed is a process. May you gain inner strength, clarity and happiness with your efforts to overcome depression.
American Psychiatric Association statement on Depression
WebMD Depression Facts and Myths