For someone who has not experienced a depressive episode, it can be difficult to understand what exactly depression feels like. Depression is often thought of as being excessively sad. But that simple definition is a disservice to the many different components of depression, a mental health condition that affects over 18 million adults — or one in 10 — every year.
Depression itself is an all-encompassing feeling, packaged with physical symptoms as well as mental ones. Depression also involves a chemical component in the brain and its neurotransmitters, especially in regards to serotonin and dopamine release.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to depression. Understanding that depression is far more than just excessive sadness and knowing the many ways that it can manifest itself is the first step in supporting a loved one or coping with depression yourself.
Depression Is Not Emotional Failure
Thinking of depression as a failure to cope with one’s emotions is disingenuous to the biological nature that many mental health afflictions have. Depression often has its roots in something that is out of the person’s own control — and that lack of control only adds to the difficulty of each depressive episode.
Depression is a multifaceted illness, and can have many underlying causes including genetic components, traumatic experiences, and/or chemical components. Some, or all, of these components can contribute to the feelings of helplessness that go with depression. Depression is more than sadness — it can feel like utter defeat in the face of overwhelming oppression.
Depression can sap the motivation and happiness of a person and breed its own feelings of isolation and helplessness. Due to the complicated nature of depression, it can be difficult for the person to feel like they have agency over anything in their lives, let alone the depression itself.
Because the root of depression is often intangible, it can be extremely difficult to just “get over it.” Depression isn’t a failure — it’s a diverse biological and medical condition that takes time to address and help to overcome.
The Destructive Practice of “Getting Over It”
Because depression is so difficult to understand from the outside, many people will insist that it is a sadness that someone should be able to get over quickly. However, even the notion of “getting over it” can be detrimental to the recovery process.
Telling someone to get over their depression can have just the opposite effect, making them feel as if they cannot talk about the difficulties they are facing. Instead, they put up a wall or a front while talking to people as the depression continues to build up in the background.
People suffering from depression would love to just get over it. To experience a “normal sadness” is a sign of healing and emotional growth. But putting depression aside leads to a number of other health issues, including the dangerous practice of self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.
A Condition That’s Both Clinical and Physical in Nature
Depression is a classified clinical condition and comes with a myriad of biological symptoms that do not exist in isolation. While sadness is a major part of depression, there are even more biological components that can negatively impact a person’s health.
Headaches, nausea, lethargy, and muscle weakness are all possible physical components of depression, especially when paired with poor diet and lack of exercise. Aches and pains can become apparent either through accentuating actual discomfort or they could be psychosomatic in nature, depending on the person.
Addressing depression is about more than addressing the trauma and sadness that someone feels — it’s also about addressing the holistic nature of the problem at hand, and creating a mental and physical health plan to help the person cope with their depression on a daily basis.
How Medication Fits Into the Picture
There are a number of medications that one could be prescribed in order to address the chemical imbalances that come with depression, including the brain’s neurotransmitters of serotonin and dopamine. However, just like symptoms of depression, the medications themselves can affect different people in different ways.
Some report nausea, difficulty sleeping, lack of appetite, weight gain, diminished sex drive, and other side effects. It’s important to work closely with a medical professional to determine what medication (or blend of medications) is best for you.
Keep in mind, there isn’t a medication that is going to “cure depression” without regular therapy and practical support systems. Because depression is something that can affect every dimension of a person’s life, it also requires a holistic model in order to be addressed.
Medication-assisted therapies are available when determining the effectiveness and severity of treatments, but there are no substitutes for effective crisis planning and learning coping and grounding techniques to help prevent the onset of a depressive episode.
Patients, doctors, and medications working in tandem to develop prevention strategies are the backbone of establishing a new “normal” amidst the multi-faceted impact that depression can have on a person’s life.
If you or a loved one are experiencing depression or depressive symptoms, Achieve Medical is here to address each issue that you may be facing. We create a comprehensive mental and physical method of healing, focusing on each person’s individual needs and goals for success. Depression is a complicated issue that can’t be dealt with alone, and we know how to help. Achieve Medical takes a prevention-first stance in addressing the difficulties that you may face on a day-to-day basis. To learn more or set up an intake appointment with our caring, professional staff, call Achieve Medical today at (858) 221-0344.