We all have our bad days—one that dampens our mood and makes us move slower throughout our usual, 24-hour routine. After doing some self-care and getting some restful sleep, we’re back to our usual chipper self the next day.
But did you know depression isn’t just a “bad day”? Some people with depression can take months to recover and feel normal again, while others, unfortunately, never reach that point of clarity and ease.
A bath and a nice meal won’t fix depression. No, it is very different from grief/blues (read more) for those who are officially diagnosed. Alarmingly, a very small percentage of the population can distinguish depressive symptoms and sadness. This needs to be addressed with the help of education and awareness.
If you’re experiencing mood shifts that go on for weeks, then it’s probably not “just one of those days” and will require immediate medical attention. As for family members and friends that seek to understand, these facts about depression are most likely what they want to relay to you.
1. Feeling Depressed Is NOT Feeling Sad
Sadness is an emotion with a million shades of variety, from crippling grief to hurt and then morphing into devastation. It’s a healthy reaction that our body needs in order to process other feelings and heighten their effect, like happiness. There’s a belief that says happiness won’t be as sweet if you haven’t experienced sadness. This can be true, but not for clinical depression.
Impact and duration are two elements that make these two different from each other. While those having a diagnosis with depression have longer periods of feeling down, unmotivated, and even as severe as feeling nothing, those who suffer from sadness (with a specific cause) can recover much faster.
And while the latter might find themselves almost always contemplating suicide, the former has but rare incidences of these destructive thought patterns.
Those who suffer from this report to be always irritable and cranky, always want to be alone and have trouble keeping up a healthy sleeping schedule. Some say their chest tightens and they have a hard time breathing, and others say they have poor concentration and focus (in school or at work). Medical professionals advise for an immediate mental health check if these symptoms go on for more than a couple of weeks.
With this said, don’t beat them up for staying in bed for longer than usual and not finding any motivation to finish chores or even pursue their beloved hobbies. Achieving small steps and celebrating those with them can help along the way, especially if you’re still struggling to help them effectively.
2. It’s Not Laziness
One mimic of depressive symptoms is those of laziness. You can easily chalk up demotivation, unproductivity, sleeping in, and procrastination as signs of laziness, but digging deeper might prove your initial judgment wrong. These are also signs of depression and are sometimes overlooked until it is too late.
If you have a loved one with similar symptoms, talk to them and be open to whatever they have to say. Take them to therapy and be there to support them.
If you’re the one experiencing these symptoms, seek out a support group if you don’t have a healthy support system. Knowing it’s not just you who’s experiencing this hardship can greatly help you debunk any preconceived belief of worthlessness and comparison. Above all else, get help for yourself and take the first big step.
3. Depression Doesn’t Discriminate
Whatever race, age, stage of life, educational status, or income you may have or be in, this mental health condition won’t care when it takes root.
Therefore, anyone around the world, even those you might have thought have no reason to feel depressed, has the tendency to experience it too. WHO has claimed more than 200 million people around the world has been diagnosed with clinical depression. That doesn’t count those that don’t seek or refuse help.
4. Genes Play A Role
Like most mental health issues, genetics are always a part of the possible cause. Search your family tree if anyone (especially your distant ancestors) has had this condition unknowingly in their lives. Terms like “gloomy and blue” can be used to describe them, as mental health wasn’t even considered a real thing in the past.
Knowing the root cause and those genetics are playing a role can drastically change your perspective about your loved one/family member. You’ll be able to realize that it wasn’t their choice to have this feeling at all. Rather logically, it is inevitable. Caring for them, talking to them, and encouraging them can be 10x easier to do with this mindset.
5. Treatments May Not Work Out The First Time
50% of those seeking professional help don’t always get better afterward. Practitioners have coined this as treatment-resistant depression, a state of this condition where treatment has been ineffective for a couple of months. In many known cases, changing medications or therapists, or even the treatment itself, can help.
As someone watching over and helping out an affected loved one, you might be just as discouraged as they are when treatments don’t work out. Don’t take it to heart! There’s a reason professionals have developed a lot of treatments over the years, like talk therapy and aromatherapy. One treatment might be ineffective, but it doesn’t mean all of them are hopeless for you and your loved one.
The Bottom Line
Money isn’t the most abused matter when it comes to depression. It’s patience and love. If you didn’t know, it’s not rare to have isolated depressed individuals that struggle all on their own because they have no open, supportive family members, friends, or loved ones. Most of these cases don’t ever get better or even last long to be remedied because most of them take away their own lives.
As someone who is at least aware, it’s up to you to be a pillar of support for them. It might take some time and may be taxing both physically and mentally, but it’s worth it to lead them out of that dark place.