A few days ago I experienced the worst attack of depression I’ve had in about two years. It was triggered by a particularly difficult commute to work one morning. I was rather taken by surprise, as I hadn’t had a depressive episode of any kind for quite some time.
Many people I encounter seem to feel that depression is a weakness of character and can be overcome by simply “getting over it” or “snapping out of it.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Depression is a flaw in chemistry, not character. Many very strong-minded people suffer from this malady. It is not a whim to be dismissed by telling someone to “get over it.” It is a real problem and can have detrimental effects on the life of the depressed person and those with whom they must deal.
Depression is an experience that feels like being emotionally shattered inside. It makes one not care about his own well-being nor that of others. It is a dark cloud that can hang over one’s head all day, sometimes lasting several days or even weeks at a time. It can cause health problems, anxiety, irritability, and possibly, death.
When one is in the throes of depression he is sometimes unable to reach out for help or emotional support and cannot be reached. Those who love a depressed person would do well to exercise much patience and show great support during the ordeal. Trust me, it will be much appreciated.
Another ignored aspect of this illness is the fact that it can easily manifest as rage, if left unchecked. It could also start out as overwhelming sadness and discouragement and then turn into violent rage. I think this happens because the depressed person feels so frustrated he becomes angry and vents these feelings. With time one can learn to keep the rage under control, but this in no way defeats the depression.
According to a nine-part article released by the National Institute for Mental Health; “In any given 1-year period, 9.5 percent of the population, or about 18.8 million American adults, suffer from a depressive illness.” This is a pretty alarming statistic. To me, this seems to be something of an epidemic. (Click here
to read the entire article). In thinking back over the last decade or so I can recall many people I’ve met who have shown some of the more severe symptoms of depression.
As for treatment options, few are very attractive. Medications tend to have horrible side effects, discouraging patients from their use. This fact alone is depressing. Mental institutions have long been portrayed (often accurately) as torture prisons. This can discourage patients from seeking psychotherapy, since there is a possibility they could end up in one of these. Also, quality counselors tend to be expensive.
As for myself the best way I know of preventing a depressive episode is to get sufficient, quality sleep and to moderate alcohol intake. This in conjunction with other good health habits, such as balanced, well-portioned diet and exercise go a long way toward preventing triggers.