I would often hear the words depression and sadness being used interchangeably so much so that before entering the mental health field, I thought they were synonymous of each other. I typically would hear these words a lot more during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Unfortunately, the Christmas holidays can be a very negative trigger for those who are at odds with their family members, going through financial hardships, and lacking the necessary coping skills to help manage their day to day stressors. If you're sad because you're still grieving the loss of a close friend or family member, you witnessed the Miami Heat lose in 6 games to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, or disappointed about a missed opportunity, then you're probably experiencing a normal emotion. Our feelings are fleeting. You may be a bit sad this morning because the Starbucks barista got your Frappuccino order wrong, but by lunch time you're on cloud nine because your boss ordered lunch for the entire staff and it's your favorite dish from Bolay. This would not fall within the category of depression. What you experienced that morning at Starbucks was a veneer form of sadness, which is a normal emotion. Sometimes identifying our feelings can be a hopeless and intimidating task. Typically with individuals who were raised to not feel or express anything except anger, i.e., men. We have to get to the place where we can start changing this narrative by normalizing the expression of our emotions for both women and men. When there's not a healthy outlet for us to express how we truly feel, then it could lead to an emotional buildup. That's too much pressure for anyone's psyche to bear.
According to the World Health Organization (2020), there's over 264 million people worldwide who are struggling with some form of depression. Depression is not just a fleeting emotion, but can typically last for years on end and its onset can look different across the board. Depression can impact someone's overall quality of life. For some people, their depression is usually triggered by something or someone, and for others it's always persistent and never subsides. Depression effects more than just someone's emotion, but it can have an effect on one's appetite, ability to concentrate, memory, sleep, keeping up with your daily hygiene, and a lack of desire to engage in some of the fun hobbies and activities that you once enjoyed. Depression can also be life threatening. If your depression is not properly addressed or managed, it can lead to suicidal ideations (suicidal thoughts) whether that's with or without a plan, and it can also lead to someone actually taking their own life. This is why it's so important to normalize mental health issues, such as, depression, anxiety, and/or other disorders. I believe the World Health Organization's account of the number of people who struggle with depression worldwide is underreported, due to the number of people who are too ashamed to admit that they're currently struggling with depression. When dealing with something as debilitating as depression, it will take a collective effort in utilizing various coping skills when fighting against this illness. These coping skills can look like having a great support system, speaking to a therapist, sometimes getting prescribed medication by either your physician or psychiatrist, exercising, eating better, and being intentional about enjoying some of the things you use take pleasure in. Depression tends to strengthen in isolation, so one of the best ways to start fighting back against it, is to first know that you're not alone, and to connect with mental health practitioners and friends who can help guide and support you along this journey. Reach out today. A little vulnerability is more courageous that you think.
Depression. (2020 January 30). Https://www.who.int/News-room/fact-sheets/details/depression.
Marcken Volmy © 2020