There is more to dealing with depression than the sadness. Depression is a disorder that promotes isolation, one that often drives people to further despair by preventing them from getting the help they need. When a person is depressed, their thoughts change.
More than just sorrow or negativity, depression affects your thought process and changes the way you reason with yourself. You internalize any sign of potential criticism or mistrust and turn against yourself. Furthermore, any positivity you experience is mired by feelings of shame and guilt over your disorder. When being made aware that much of how you feel is due to the disorder, you blame yourself for being depressed in the first place.
It’s a losing battle, with no clear way to win. And like many mental health issues, it’s a near-perpetual cycle that requires strenuous intervention to break and end. When a person struggles with depression, they don’t only need to hear that it’s okay to ask for help, they need to believe it. It takes time for that belief to take root and grow, and it’s up to that person’s friends and family to nurture that belief and help their loved one steer towards the right direction.
You Don’t Need to Be Alone
Some people feel that their depression is something they have to face alone, and that that is the only way they can truly recover. This is not true at all. Depression is not a condition you have to face alone and getting help for it doesn’t make you weaker or less able to recover. All you need to bring to the table is the will to get better, and the ability to ask for help when you feel that will faltering. Everything else is in the hands of experts and professionals.
This is no different from any other disease or sickness. When people get sick, we advise them to seek help. We don’t tell people to just go on about their day after breaking a bone or tell them to suck it up when they wake up one morning suddenly deaf. Depression is a debilitating illness with the potential to leave people partially disabled, and its effects are real. They can be devastating. And with time, it can progress and worsen.
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of courage – you must stand up to your fears and acknowledge that you need help, and be brave enough to hope, against any odds you might perceive, that things will get better.
Yes, Others Can Help
Through the love and support of your friends and family, the direction and expertise of mental health professionals, and the ingenuity of countless people who devoted their lives to treating mental illness and learning more about the human mind and depressive disorders, you can seek help and healing and fight back against this condition.
Some fear to ask help for their depression because they’re worried that they won’t get the help they need, and that rejection or frustration is something they don’t want to deal with. However, the help you need is out there. Don’t give up on yourself, and your chances at a future without constant and overbearing depressive thoughts and feelings.
Depression, Stigma, and Self-Stigma
Stigma is still an existing issue when dealing with depression, both in the form of external stigma and internal stigma, or self-stigma. External stigma can come from a place of malice or a place of ignorance. Some people don’t understand what depression is and say hurtful things in the moment. They might not mean to be hurtful, and often don’t realize the damage they’re doing.
A common example might be a friend or relative telling you to ‘get over it’, or it might be something meant in earnest, like ‘just be grateful for what you have’ or ‘why would you be depressed when you’re living such a blessed life right now?’. And while an appeal to a higher power can seem thoughtful, simply telling someone with depression to ‘pray more’ can be insulting as well.
Internal stigma are the thoughts many depressed people have as a result of such interactions, or thoughts of their own. Things like ‘I feel worthless’ or ‘I’m such a burden to those around me’ or ‘it’ll never get better’. These thoughts can be even more damaging, because they’re our own. But with time, a depressed person can learn to differentiate between these thoughts and ‘true’ thoughts, separating them and seeing the line between the depression and the person they are. Stigma and self-stigma can be defeated, both through educating loved ones and friends, and by seeking therapy.
Help Is the First Step
Treatment for depression has come a long way in the past few decades, and researchers and doctors continue to make strides in discovering new therapies and treatments for depressive disorders. While it’s critical to be okay with asking for help, especially moving forward, help is the first step. When a person is treated for depression, one of the harder questions to answer is how long said treatment will end up taking.
Some people respond fairly quickly to treatment and find themselves feeling significantly better after only a few weeks. Others spend up to a year going through different therapies until they find something that works, and even then, treatment becomes more about managing the disorder than dispelling it entirely. For some, depression is something that can go away with time. For others, it’s a chronic condition. In either case, however, treatment is necessary for survival.
Do not try to compare your progress with that of another patient. Differences in environment, genetics, and lifestyle can greatly influence the efficacy of certain treatments. In other words, it’s not your fault that one type of medication might not agree with you, or that it takes longer for certain therapies to take effect. Embrace that this is your own personal journey, and it will take as long as it takes for you to recover from your depression and find yourself amidst all the negativity the condition has brought with it. Through a comprehensive treatment plan, professional help, and the love and support of your friends and family, you will get through this.