“Whenever someone tells me to ‘Just be happy,’ I want to yell, ‘Oh, hey, depression’s gone! Why didn’t I think of that?’ But usually I just roll my eyes instead.” —Anonymous
Depression or Sadness
Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work, in school and/or 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., inability to sit still, pacing, handwringing) or slowed movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
We all have a tendency to say we are depressed when we go through a difficult life change such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship. It’s normal to feeling sadness or grief in response to these situations situations, but does that mean you are depressed?
Both grief and depression may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from our usual activities but they also differ in many important ways:
- Painful feelings come in waves and often mixed with positive memories of the deceased.
- Self-esteem remains the same.
- Thoughts of death may surface when thinking or fantasizing about “joining” the deceased loved one.
- Mood and/or interest are decreased for about two weeks.
- Feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are commonly experienced.
- Suicidal ideation due to feeling worthless or undeserving of living or being unable to cope with the pain of depression.
Cycle of Depression
Oh Just Snap Out of It
Individuals who struggle with depression will hear things like “Just get over it”, “You aren’t actually depressed”, “Snap out of it already”, “Why can’t you be happy?”, “Stop being ungrateful”, “Why are you always sad and crying?”, and the list goes on and on. In a previous post Suicide and Self-Harm (the link will be provided below) we discussed how Caribbean culture views suicide, suicidal ideation and self-harm, now we are going to look at the views on depression. There are many studies indicating that depression has been the largest contributor to living with a disability and is related to suicidal ideation, self-harm, suicide attempts and completed suicides. One of the main reasons individuals continue to suffer with depression is due to the intense stigma that is in the Caribbean culture. Depression is seen as someone not being grateful for the things that they have in life yet those who are judging or making comments are not aware of the trauma or experiences that the person may have gone through.
An individual who is dealing or suffering with depression can experience the the symptoms that were mentioned above, feeling worthless/guilty, decreased mood & interest, experience self-loathing, and suicidal ideation. Those symptoms can be exasperated by one’s friends, family, community, environment, and other issues/distress that may be existing in their life. One can go years without seeking services due to fear of alienation, ridicule, and shame, which can cause the symptoms to worsen over time. Depression is most prominent in the adolescent population and some risk factors are the following:
Supporting Someone with Depression
Coping Skills for Depression
See post on Self-Harm & Suicide – https://inside-chats.com/2021/03/03/suicide-and-self-harm/
“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, Prozac Nation