Depression is one of the leading mental illnesses in today’s society. At its core, Depression is a feeling of overwhelming sadness and helplessness, which may result in a loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy. As a result of these, an individual with Depression might socially isolate themselves, struggle with interpersonal relationships, and is at risk of engaging in acts of self-harm or suicide.
What causes Depression?
A lot of study and research has gone into understanding the factors that might have a role to play in the onset and development of depression in individuals. Some of the factors found so far include:
- Genetics: Though depression is not exactly a “hereditary” mental illness, certain neuro-chemical predispositions could make some individuals more susceptible to experiencing depression
- Personality: Individuals with certain personality traits such as higher levels of pessimism, a propensity to ruminate, or lower self-esteem have been found to be at a higher risk of developing depression than those with a more positive outlook on life
- Environment: Being exposed to environmental disturbances such as violence, abuse, and financial instability add to the risk of an individual developing depression and other Mental Illnesses
While these factors do play an important role in the occurrence of depression in individuals, it should be noted that individuals from any socio-economic background, age group, or gender can develop depression.
Symptoms of depression
- A feeling of constant sadness or grief
- A loss of interest in activities that the individual once derived pleasure out of
- Overeating or undereating, which could lead to a drastic increase or reduction in weight
- Feeling fatigued
- Experiencing trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping excessively
- Moving or talking less and slower than usual
- Experiencing feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating and performing cognitive tasks such as thinking or decision making
- Experiencing thoughts of suicide or engaging in acts of self-harm
What does depression feel like?
To someone with a lack of experience, depression might seem like sadness, exhaustion, and a lack of motivation. In reality, it is that and so much more.
As an individual with depression, you may wake up and the first thought is possibly how badly you want to go back to sleep. Not because it’s a cold and cozy day, but because living another day just seems that dreadful. Maybe you sleep a few extra hours, maybe you sleep the entire day, maybe you don’t leave your bed for an entire week. When you do, your body is still exhausted, your muscles hurt for no particular reason, and your head is fogged. You somehow drag yourself out and go to work, but you can’t focus on a single thing. You dose up on coffee and tea, exchange light office banter, and return to your desk. You feel a void inside of you. You decide to ignore it and get back to work, only to realize that the hours have passed by and you haven’t keyed in a single word. You are late on all your assignments and your Team Lead is furious. You scold yourself, tell yourself you are useless and that you deserve your depression. Your colleagues call you out for drinks afterwards. You attempt to decline it but they pull you along anyway. At the table, you keep quiet. You are exhausted and the banter gets increasingly taxing. Somedays, the drinks help you feel better, but not tonight. Tonight you can’t stop screaming at yourself about how you have let your team down, how you are never there for your friends either, and how you haven’t called your mom in a week. You get back home, turn off the light and get in bed. You wonder if the world would be better off without you in it. Maybe your company could find someone better to fill in your role. You will relieve your friends and family of the burdens of looking after you from time to time. You don’t really have much to work towards, nothing that you seem to be good at or that you are a master in, so why bother? But you leave that thought for another day and go back to sleep, only to live through this all over again tomorrow. And the day after that. And the many, many days that follow.
There is a reason why depression is often represented as an engulfing darkness, smoke, or fog. The experience of depression can overtake every inch of a person’s existence, making it hard for them to manage even the simplest of tasks. To simplify such a grave sense of grief and feeling trapped or bound into sadness or a lack of motivation is to underplay the overpowering effect the disorder has in the life of those living with it. It is important, hence, to understand the overwhelming struggle the individual has to go through and offer support whenever and however we can.
Allow us to help you
Coping with depression is a challenging task, no doubt, but having the right social support can sure make it easier. We, at Heart It Out, appreciate you for making the effort to be there through your loved one’s Mental Health journey. 🙂