Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What is Depression?

Have you ever heard someone say “I’m depressed” when they mean that they are having a bad day. Having a bad day isn’t necessarily depression.

So what is depression?

It’s when:

There is at least a 2 week period of time that you are feeling down, sad or empty or not really interested in the things you normally do.

And, you experience several of the following symptoms:

You just are not functioning the same.
  • You can’t get out of bed in the morning or it’s become a big chore.
  • You dread facing the day - you can’t get rid of the awful feeling that nothing is going to get better.
  • Everything seems to take an effort – you have no energy.
  • You feel tired all the time.
  • You no longer sleep through the night – perhaps waking up 2 or 3 a.m.
  • Maybe you just want to sleep all the time and hide under the covers.
  • Your appetite isn’t what it used to be – you might be losing or gaining weight.
  • The things you took an interest in seem dull and uninteresting – colors may appear dimmer.
  • You may feel agitated and restless or feel as if you are moving and talking at the pace of a turtle.
  • You feel worthless, that you have no purpose in life.
  • Maybe you feel guilt that overwhelms you.
  • You can’t watch TV or read the paper if you tried – nothing sinks in – it’s just a fog.
  • You can’t seem to make a decision about anything – you can’t think clearly.
  • Maybe you begin to feel like your life doesn’t matter.
  • Maybe you think that you and everyone else would be better off if you were dead.

It can be frustrating, frightening, and lonely especially if uninformed people tell you to do the impossible – “Snap out of it!” and blame you if you don’t. Maybe you blame yourself.

People tend to isolate when depressed. It feels too hard to make the effort to connect with others. Maybe you are ashamed that you aren’t the person you used to be – that you no longer feel in control of your life.

However much you might want to isolate – don’t. Keeping the connection to supportive family, friends, therapist or other support is critical. Without that connection, your thoughts can become narrower and narrower until you may think and believe that the only way out is suicide. There is no one to challenge that distorted thinking. There is no one to provide hope when hope feels foreign to you. As hard as it may seem to reach out, do so. Don’t shut people out of your life.

Depression is an illness. Depression is painful. The good news is that depression is treatable.

If you are suffering from depression or know someone who is, seek help from a professional – it could be your primary care provider, a psychiatric APRN, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a psychotherapist or another professional. If you or someone you know is suicidal, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Right now, it may be hard to believe that you can ever climb out of that dark hole of depression – but, it is possible. Seek help.


The information contained in this website should not be considered by anyone viewing the website as a substitute for appropriate diagnosis and treatment provided by a licensed health practitioner. All content is for general purposes only. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website. Mary Anne Zeh, A.P.R.N., C.S., LLC is not responsible or liable for the content of any site accessed through this website.

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