Depression sliding in like… via GIPHY
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a feeling of sadness or low mood for an extended period of time. You think it’ll go away eventually, but it doesn’t. It stays, and much like an unwanted house guest who for some reason has decided to call your house his own (taking mi casa es su casa a bit too literally there!), it interferes with a person’s home and work life and can make it hard to cope. It’s a medical illness that fortunately, is treatable.
What are the symptoms?
Depression sucking your energy like… via GIPHY
Depression affects people in different ways, but here’s a general list:
- Feeling sad or having a low mood that never goes away
- Feeling emotionally flat or numb (see mood scale)
- Loss of pleasure in hobbies or activities you once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite or weight (you might’ve felt hungrier or less hungry than usual, or you might’ve lost or gained some weight that’s not related to dieting)
- Sleep problems (trouble going to sleep, trouble staying asleep, and yes, even sleeping too much)
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue, or a feeling of perpetual exhaustion
- Loss of motivation
- Not as interested in sex as you once were
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Impaired thinking or concentration and difficulty making decisions
- Changes in how much you drink and the amount of drugs you take
- Thoughts of death and suicide (this is really serious, please seek help right away)
Okay, I think I have depression. Now what?
Depression ruining your life like… via GIPHY
So your wanker of a house guest has decided to make your brain his permanent residence? All is not lost! You might have to live with him for the time being, but the good news is, you can limit the effect his assholery has on you by seeking help and getting treatment.
First things first, get diagnosed! If you think you might have depression or you’ve been feeling sad for some time, go down to your local GP/mental health professional to get a diagnosis. Students, you can do this for free (if not for free, then at least at a discounted price)—if your school or campus has a psychiatrist/psychologist/counsellor/therapist/other mental health specialist, take advantage of this while you still can because seeking help gets pretty costly once you’re in the working world. Adults, if you can afford to, go get that diagnosis!
Next, ask about treatment. There’s a variety of treatments available including psychotherapy (talk therapy), medication, community support programs and for use only as a last resort, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Depression affects everyone differently, so talk to your doctor about which treatments may be best for you. Some people may only need psychotherapy, others may benefit from community support programs as well, and folks with moderate to severe depression may also want to consider taking medication in conjunction with the aforementioned treatments.
Now, I’m not an expert or even a medical professional for that matter, so I’m really not in a position to elaborate on how each of the treatments work, but here’s a great list of websites if you want more information:
All the websites I’ve linked to are Australian, but the information contained should be applicable no matter where you live.
Also, a note about choosing your mental health provider because this is very important and can literally save your life:
A GOOD mental health professional treats their patients with RESPECT. That means someone who listens to you without judgement, takes all your needs into consideration before prescribing treatment, doesn’t pretend to know your feelings better than you, and treats you like a person instead of a number.
You should feel comfortable talking to this person, sessions should never be rushed, and you should never feel pressured or forced into doing something you’re not completely comfortable with, such as taking medication if you’re unsure about the side effects. This is your body and your brain, which means you make all the decisions on what treatment you think is best for you—your mental health professional can only give you recommendations. You have the final say.
A BAD mental health “professional” doesn’t give a rat’s ass about you. You’re nothing more than a walking list of symptoms to them, and they’ll often rush your appointment so they can squeeze in as many patients as they can. They might even scorn condescendingly at you for daring to seek help and possibly even blame you for having depression in the first place! Depression is NEVER your fault. You didn’t ask for it, you don’t deserve it, and anybody who tells you otherwise is not somebody who should be in the medical field. Remember that.
Sometimes these people are jaded. You don’t want someone who’s jaded “helping” you. But the bottom line is, if you don’t feel comfortable talking with this person, or you leave your sessions guilty, annoyed, or more depressed than before, stop going to this person and find another therapist. I cannot stress this enough. A good therapist can save your life. A bad one can literally kill you (through neglect).
Last but not least, take care of yourself! In addition to taking treatment, there’s a lot of stuff you can do to reduce the symptoms of depression. Most people find exercise to be particularly helpful, even as helpful as antidepressants, and having a friend you can talk to is a great way to cope as well. In fact, I have a super useful list of ways to care for yourself, get it here!
Will my guest from hell ever go away?
Depression clinging onto you like…
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s unlikely he’ll ever be out of your life.
Sure, he may go on holiday every once in a while. He might even find a discount for a Caribbean cruise and be gone for a really long time, but like all annoying house guests, he’ll be back. Sometimes he’ll even come back bearing souvenirs, like an extra helping of insomnia nobody wanted. This is why self care is so important—it allows you to manage your depression so it doesn’t take control of your life.
If you want this jerk to leave you alone for longer periods of time though, check out my articles on mindset. A great mindset is like a security system, stopping the intruder at the gates before he even has a chance to ransack your house. Every security system needs tools that work, and when all else fails, a safe place to ride it out. Please allow this site to be the security system to your house!