I found that with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone.Dwayne Johnson
Have you noticed that there are times when you feel lethargic, or lack motivation to do things—even things that you usually enjoy? Are there times when you feel like you’re stuck in mud? Even something as seemingly benign as doing laundry feels hard. Yet, you go to work and your performance is exemplary. You may be very active, continue to complete excellent work with the PTA, or while coaching your child’s softball team. On the outside, it appears like nothing is wrong, while what is happening underneath, on the inside, is disguised.
So often when we think of depression, we think of it as a debilitating disorder that makes it difficult for us to function. Low-grade depression, however, is somewhat different. We may experience it on a consistent basis, kind of in the background, or episodically. We may not even know that we have it because we still function, and often extremely well, in our professional and personal lives. We can maintain appearances to our friends and family and do the everyday routine things that need to be done, and we can do them well. Therefore, others may not recognize our depression, and we might not even recognize it in ourselves.
Everyday Tasks Are Harder
The reason I call low-grade depression an ‘invisible phenomenon’ is because there are seldom external indicators like what is seen in moderate or severe depression. We may still laugh, yet not as often. Most of us continue to do daily chores and routines, where with more severe depression, that may be lacking or absent. However, those who experience low-grade depression may notice that it is more challenging to accomplish what we used to.
Low-grade depression tends to be subtle as opposed to more severe depression. Thus, we may be confused about what we are experiencing and it often is mislabeled by us and others around us. We may unintentionally make excuses for our moods and behaviors by saying that we are lazy, getting older, or that we don’t have the physical energy we used to.
Our Usual Energy is Lacking
Functioning with low-grade depression often means that there needs to be an internal push to move forward with tasks, where before it just naturally happened with little thought. We may start to turn down more social invitations than before because participating feels too hard and as if it takes too much energy. Social outings that used to be fun may start to feel more like work than pleasure.
What also sometimes happens is that we begin to beat ourselves up. We start to judge ourselves thinking things like, “What is wrong with me?” Others in our lives may criticize and judge us by complaining that we don’t want to go out, or that we don’t call to talk on the phone anymore, or socialize like we used to. This may begin to wear away at our self-esteem and exacerbate the depression.
For my complete article, and more tips on addressing low-grade depression, please click on the link below.
My wish for you today is that you can take a few small steps, that can lead to making a big difference, in rediscovering your zest for life.
-Kathleen Dwyer-Blair, LCSW, BCD Director, Nassau Guidance and Counseling