Estimates suggest that one in ten people in the U.S. suffer from depression at some point in their lives. Yet there are more shocking realizations that could include you too!
What’s even more alarming is that approximately 80% of us will never get treatment for the problem (source: Healthline, a health information site.)
And, as we know from the tragic death of Robin Williams, untreated depression can lead down a very dark and serious path.
A Better Understanding Of Those Who Suffer Depression
Many sufferers of depression hide everything on the inside, displaying a mask of calmness or even happiness to themselves and others. It can make the depression that much harder, having to try to hide away feelings and put on the happy face. But inside, we don’t quite feel as if everything is all right.
Perhaps we were never allowed to share our feelings as a child, whether due to abuse or simply a closed family environment. Maybe we always felt as if we had to be perfect, to measure up to someone else’s expectations. Or perhaps we just never learned how to tell someone about our sadness and pain.
Whatever the reason, we have bottled up our depression until it has become a part of us: we recognize its dark tendrils, but can no longer distinguish our thoughts from the original “us” – the person beneath those thoughts.
We might feel like:
- We can’t escape our thoughts – as if our thoughts just find us, over and over.
- We want to escape from our lives – perhaps moving away, or going away, or just driving off into the distance, or any other form of escape.
- We can’t see a way out of problems.
- We have somehow caused all of the problems in our lives.
- We are somehow apart from others, unable to have real friendships or relationships.
- We are swimming in a haze.
- We cannot relate to others, or have empathy for others right now.
- We are incredibly angry lately, and later regret it.
- A sense of incredible sadness.
How Depression Can Hide Additional, Serious Problems
In addition, depression can mask or even cause other issues. For example:
- Self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or sex can all be symptomatic of depression.
- ADHD can also be a part of chronic depression.
How Some Feelings Can Rise Up - And Why Treatment Is Often Essential
Many people who suffer from chronic and serious depression feel as if they are unable to express themselves to others. Sometimes there is a heavy sense of guilt, as if “I have everything – a good job, a nice house, a family, and yet I still feel this way.” Indeed, it might even seem strange to attempt to talk to anyone about it, because we might feel as if they will not understand how we can feel so hopeless when we seemingly have so much going for us.
Like Robin Williams, it might be hard to reach out when we feel as if no one could possibly understand the emptiness inside, not when we seem to have “so much” on the outside. It sometimes seems too hard to explain that we don’t feel as if we have “everything” – we feel instead like we are lacking something.
How To Help Identify Chronic Depression
Indeed, chronic depression is not always so obvious, sometimes to ourselves, or sometimes to others. We might know that something is wrong with our thinking and how we are experiencing the world, but how do we recognize that?
Here are some symptoms:
- Feeling very irritated by small things.
- Knowing that it could be helpful to reach out to others or become involved in activities, however not having the energy or motivation to do so.
- Wondering why everyone around you is happy when you’re not.
- Having days of darkness, where you miss work or family activities because you need time alone.
- Wanting to be alone often, so that you don’t have to pretend at happiness.
- Feeling as if the people around you are very sensitive to your moods – as if they have to make sure not to bug you.
- Sometimes feeling very old and brittle.
- Very critical of ourselves and others – take any criticism very negatively, even if meant kindly.
- Sometimes feeling as if the world is out to get you, as if nothing can go your way.
- Think that the people around you (family, co-workers, etc.) would be better off if you weren’t there – that even your children would be better off with a different father or mother for them.
(Resource: Psych Central)
The Professional Treatment Of Depression
If you do have any of these emotions or thoughts, please know that you are not alone in feeling this way. Depression can be treated.
Depression can often be a symptom of feelings that are stuck inside and are not felt and released, such as anger, sadness, or grief. Thus we can feel a sense of heaviness. Often with depression it’s hard to cry because of these feelings that are stuck inside. Helping to identify, connect, work through and release feelings inside will help reduce depression.
Psychological treatment can be very beneficial. It will take work, but it is necessary for our families and ourselves. Chronic depression often carries a biological component with it, and in some cases, an anti-depressant along with psychotherapy might be necessary.
A trained psychotherapist is invaluable in dealing with any sort of depression, or even in determining if you are, in fact, depressed. With gentle and considerate guidance, the therapists of Nassau Guidance can help you work through your depression.
If you are suffering, we do hope that you reach out, whether to us or to someone who will listen with an open heart.