The topic of mental health has been up for discussion multiple times in our society, especially across various forms of social media. I'm here to elaborate a bit more on it. Let's begin with a topic that comes and goes in the news: Depression. Now, while there are many things we do seem to know about it, there are a few things that mental health experts don't seem to touch on as much about depression and it's affects on an individual. Let's examine my list of things that they don't necessarily tell you about depression.
1. Depression Is Nondiscriminatory
A person can live their entire lives without experiencing depression, until they do. Depression does not go after a particular person, a particular group of people, or a particular age of individuals. Is it true that an individual may be more likely to experience depression in between certain ages? Sure. But it is also true that depression can creep up on an individual at any age bracket, not just the ones the mental health experts discuss which is usually about ages 3-17. It does not choose a particular gender of individuals as well. Anyone and everyone experiences depression at different stages of their lives, sometimes even more than once! Depression does not care about your social economic situation as the claim is that individuals in poverty experience it more than individuals who live in a comfortable lifestyle. This is just false. While there can be situational characteristics that add to a depression, it is not confined to only a particular social economic class. We see this all the time with individuals who express their struggle with depression. It varies across the board.
2. It's Easier To Hide Than You Think
There is a saying I live by. "The Japanese say we have three faces. One you show the world, one you show your close friends and family, and one you show only to yourself when you are alone. It is here that we see the truest form of ourselves." This proverb shows that people maintain different personalities based on social situations. Now, this goes to show that people are hiding their depression more often than others like to think. Some of the most social individuals suffer from depression and more often than not, others turn a blind eye to what's really going on. The stigma is that depressed individuals are very obvious about dealing with depression and although they don't say anything about it, someone can just tell that they are because they "look sad" or have a "pessimistic" view of the world. This is simply not true. Because we have three faces, depressed individuals hold the power to be a "highly functioning individual with depression." This is a topic I would like to investigate further in a future blog post.
3. Insomnia and Manic Episodes Are Pretty Common
Depression is more than "feeling sad." It's many sleepless nights where you are staring into the darkness without any particular reason. Insomnia is another common side effect of depression. This is because your thoughts are constantly racing and keeping your mind from being able to rest. Then, mania sets in. Those who experience depression often feel extremely overwhelmed with their emotions. This ranges from sadness to a loss of self direction in their lives. It's like extreme versions. The way I have personally always described mania is someone is either raging like fire or they are calm like water, and when they are neither, they are like steam. They are just merely existing without purpose.
4. Depression Isn't As Easy To Cure With Medication
Pills only cure for so long. When an individual who is prescribed antidepressants does not take them, then they are more likely to be erratic. Even when an individual takes antidepressants, they are exposing themselves to more intense side affects of nausea, insomnia, an increase in anger and suicidal thoughts, dizziness, fatigue, and other effects that are mentioned in antidepressant commercials. This is only a few that I am currently naming. Let's talk about what they don't tell you. Anytime you take medication to help one aspect of yourself, you are often hurting another part of yourself. When we put anything foreign in our bodies it affects us internally in other negative ways. This can result in seizures, allergic reactions, or even potential internal damage to organs.
5. Physical Pain can be a side effect
Most don't know that migraines can be a result of your depression. Not only this, but it has been famously said by Kurt Cobain that his depression would cause him to have stomach pain and this is why he turned to other negative resources to help himself cope. (By NO means am I advocating for that. I only want to bring awareness that depression can cause physical pain to an individual.)
6. There Isn't Always A Reason Why You Have Depression
When others think of depression, they respond in one of three ways. One: "Oh it's just a phase." Two: "Your situation is making you feel this way." Three: "SCIENCE." Now, while there is scientific research that proves a low level of serotonin, there isn't always a particular reason for an individual to experience depression. Sometimes a person feels a deep depression for no reason at all and even they do not understand it! Most depressed individuals ask themselves why they are depressed and can't come to a logical reasoning, whereas an outsider can make excuses or reasons for them to potentially feel this way.
7. Those Who Are Depressed Aren't Always Looking For Help
Those who experience depression suffer in solidarity and believe that not many, or no one at all, understand their pain. This causes them to not want help from others simply for the fact that they do not want to burden others. Most who are depressed will not call anyone to talk to, but instead they will write in private or find another creative outlet like painting or drawing. Some even turn their depression into multi-million dollar companies or games that later become viral and use their depression as a source of inspiration. There is a fear of turning to others just to be told to "get over it." This is something that an outside perspective doesn't understand, and in return hurts the individual who is potentially finding the courage and strength to open up.
8. It Doesn't Always Run In The Family
Another misconception is that because other family members have suffered from depression that depression is hereditary. This is false! There are many individuals who come from a depression free family, yet they suffer. As I previously wrote, depression does not discriminate. It does not need to run in your family for you to feel it. It only needs a way in. This way in is by the person, not necessarily by the family line.
9. Those Who Suffer Still Find Temporary Moments Of Happiness
Although an individual may suffer, this does not mean that they experience it constantly. On the contrary, there are moments a person who suffers can feel content and happiness while looking at something. The problem is, their mind automatically resets into the darkness. The way I explain depression is it is like a dark cloud that engulfs someone and distorts their vision so that they cannot see that they have been standing in the light all along. A temporary moment of happiness is fleeting to an individual suffering. It is a small comfort in a giant storm of emotions, uncertainty, and doubt.
10. There Is A Difference Between Depression And Sadness
The last misconception I would like to speak about is that depression and sadness are they same thing. They are definitely not! Depression is more than a loss of interest, fatigue, and wanting to sleep all day. Depression is something that lasts longer than a moment and sometimes can lat years. Sadness on the other hand is more in a moment and passes. Depression is like a hurricane, it destroys everything in its path and has a devastating aftermath that takes months or years to rebuild. It has different levels from being functioning to being debilitating (categories 1-5 of a hurricane). Sadness is a thunderstorm, powerful but it passes with not as much damage. I feel that many in today's generation may not understand the difference and use the term "depression" when they are experiencing "sadness." There is a clear difference and it's time we start genuinely speaking about that difference!
I have always believed that depression was a mental disorder. But now I see it differently. I think depression is ultimately a product of the world we live in. It is created by societies standards that force people to conform to lives that make them unhappy which lead to the lack of ability to live a truly fulfilling life. Depression and other mental health issues have a terrible stigma that is attached to them that ultimately makes many who suffer live in fear to share their stories. I chose to become a mental health writer to advocate to end this negative stigma and encourage more talk about mental health. #LetsTalkMentalHealth #EndTheStigma