Depression is one of the most common mental health challenges worldwide, affecting more than 300 million people. Symptoms of depression include depressed mood, irritability, disturbed sleep, poor concentration, fatigue, slow movements, aches, feelings of helplessness and worthlessness, inability to feel pleasure, and thoughts of suicide or death. Depression is miserable in itself but it also damages your physical health and it significantly increases your risk of developing a substance use disorder. One study found that of people major depression, 16.5 percent had an alcohol use disorder and 18 percent had a drug use disorder. Among people with bipolar disorder, a stunning 56 percent had a substance use disorder at some point in their lives. Perhaps the worst thing about depression is that your own mind turns against you. People with depression often live with a brutal internal monolog, an enemy that knows exactly what to say for the maximum emotional impact. The following are common lies that depression tells you.
It’s normal to feel like you’re lazy when you’re depressed. You may sleep way too much, either because you feel exhausted or you just don’t feel like you can deal with being awake. You may have trouble getting out of bed in the morning or you may not be able to do it at all. You may go through your day feeling like you really should do this or that but you can’t seem to muster the energy. You may look at all this and feel like you must be incredibly lazy and, by extension, you deserve whatever bad things happen as a result of your own laziness.
However, the reality is that depression makes everything harder. It disrupts your sleep, it saps your energy, and it slows you down. One common symptom of depression is called psychomotor retardation. It slows you down and makes your body feel heavy. One possible explanation for this is that your brain is acting as if your body is fighting an infection. Recent research has linked depression to the inflammatory immune response. The mechanisms involved are complicated but basically, depression, for some people, at least, may be a sort of false alarm for infection. When you have the flu, for example, it’s not the virus that makes you tired, achy, and not hungry, but your body’s own program for fighting the virus. You wouldn’t believe you’re lazy if you stayed in bed with the flu; staying in bed with depression might be the exact same mechanism so give yourself a break.
A common feature of depression is learned helplessness. This is the feeling that nothing you do can improve your situation. This is one reason depression is common in victims of child abuse or spousal abuse. These people start to believe that they’ll be abused no matter what they do so there’s no point in doing anything. On top of that, depression makes everything feel more difficult. Someone with depression may think about everything that’s involved in getting treatment or improving their lives in some way and feel like there’s no way they can make that kind of effort. As noted above, simple things like getting out of bed can sometimes feel impossible. How is it possible then, that someone with depression can expend the effort to find a therapist, make an appointment, drive to the appointment, start exercising, or do any of the other things that often help with depression? This is typically when people need to rely on those close to them and be willing to accept their help.
Another issue is that many people feel like even if they do go to all this effort, it won’t make a difference anyway. People with depression are often convinced that nothing will make a difference and there’s no point in trying. This applies not only to getting treatment for depression but for everything else in life too–getting a better job, getting healthier, making friends, and so on. In short, since people with depression believe nothing they do will make them happier, they might as well save their much needed energy. However, it’s extremely unlikely that consistent efforts will fail to yield some kind of result. Even small changes, such as walking for five minutes every day can improve your mood.
Feelings of isolation or loneliness are among the most common symptoms of depression. They may take the form of believing no one cares about, that you’re not worth caring about, that you’re a burden to others, or that you don’t want to see anyone. Unfortunately, isolation only makes depression worse. By believing this particular lie, you get caught in a vicious cycle of isolation, loneliness, and depression. Almost everyone has someone who cares about them, even if they don’t believe it. Reaching out to these people or being willing to take their expressions of concern at face value is one way to break the cycle of depression. Spend time with others, even if you don’t feel like it and even if you believe they don’t really care about you. Building these connections will gradually improve your mood and change your perspective.
Similar to the belief that nothing you do matters, many people with depression feel like they’ll just be depressed for the rest of their lives. They feel like no matter what they do, they’ll still feel awful. However, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. About 40 to 60 percent of people with moderate to severe depression find some relief from medication and psychotherapy. If that doesn’t work, a newer technology called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, relieves symptoms in about 50 to 60 percent of people with treatment-resistant depression. There’s also electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, which also has an excellent record of treating major depression and bipolar disorder, as well as a number of emerging treatments. What’s more, most people experience episodic depression and know from experience that a depressive episode won’t last forever. As hard as it can be to imagine, it’s important to know that things will get better.
If you have a loved one who is struggling with addiction, Hired Power and our team of dynamic, experienced recovery professionals are here to guide you every step of the way. We offer many services, including helping you choose the best treatment program and transitional services, including interventions, sober monitoring, and personal recovery assistants. Call us today for information on our recovery services: 714-559-3919.
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