DEPRESSION IS NOT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS
“I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” [Ned Vizzini, “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story”]
Today I wanted to talk to you about something very important that often gets neglected these days, our mental health. A lack of understanding when it comes to mental health disorders leaves sufferers feeling hopeless and isolated.
Many of us feel sad, stressed, angry, lost or empty sometimes. The majority of people experience temporary difficulty concentrating or sleeping or, on the contrary, they sometimes seem to need much more sleep than usual. There are days when our appetite decreases or when we eat for two. We sometimes lose interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex.
But when does it start becoming a mental health issue? When the symptoms persist for more than just a few days. Or when you have any thoughts about self-harming or ending your life, even if you only have them occasionally.
Depression comes in different forms and levels of severity. Every person’s depression may be different and they may experience a different combination of symptoms. It affects your life and relationships with other people. In its mild form, depression means you are just feeling down but it doesn’t necessarily stop you leading your everyday life, it just makes everything harder. A severe form of depression can be life-threatening because it can make you feel suicidal or simply give up the will to live. Depression can be accompanied by anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks and phobias.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or listed here, the only right thing to do is seek professional help. Not from a blogger, your friends or family, but from your doctor. There is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter what your symptoms. Trust me, the doctors have seen it all! As many as one in four people experience some form of mental health issues in their lifetime. The doctors are there to help you and there are many options available like therapy (e.g. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), medication or both. Don’t be afraid to take medication if your doctor decides you need it, the modern antidepressants won’t make you feel drowsy or change your personality. They will simply make you feel in control again, capable of enjoying your life and being happy. There are other things you can do to improve your mental health like exercise, healthy diet and doing things you enjoy but this cannot replace professional help, it’s in addition to it.
Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together”, it’s an illness and requires treatment. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. People who have not experienced it themselves and don’t have a medical background may not be able to fully understand what you are going through.
Many people wait a long time before they seek help because they are ashamed and hope it will just go away but this only makes things worse. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can start feeling better and your quality of life will improve. Sometimes a physical illness like a thyroid condition can cause symptoms of depression so it’s important that your doctor rules out any other health problems first.
Please bear in mind that although this article focuses on depression, there are other mental health conditions, e.g. bipolar disorder, with variety of different symptoms, therefore it’s so important to see your doctor as soon as you feel that something is wrong and you are not in control of your behaviour and emotions or if someone else notices that about you.
You can read about some of the other mental health conditions here.
If you want to find out more, please see the below links:
NHS depression self assessment tool (“This is for information only and is not intended to replace a consultation with a GP.”)
Mind website (mental health charity)
The opinions expressed in this article are based on my own thoughts, knowledge, and experiences. Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor or other health professional so please consult the appropriate medical expert in regards to the topic discussed in this article.