There are many misconceptions about depression now due to its increasing awareness. We often see some of these play out when someone would be feeling sad and the next thing you hear is another describing this person as being depressed. This makes it almost difficult to differentiate between someone who’s just unhappy at the moment from an individual who may be going through actual depression.
Knowing the impact of the labels we give to our experiences, it will help to know exactly what depression is, and is not. Rather than labeling everyone who’s sad as depressed or vice versa.
The feelings of sadness because of an ugly turn out of event is quite normal. We are human beings. We still reserve the right to be unhappy when things don’t go as we had anticipated.
I’ve heard someone once said she never feels sad. And I was like, really? How can you live, and you never feel sad, at any given moment, at all?
While it’s not my role to argue about what anyone says about themselves, I did consider that statement debatable.
One thing I have observed about the human emotion is that it is okay to feel them. Feelings of these emotions are only signs of a conflict, or agreement with our values, goals, and expectations. Whatever be the case.
If you had a particular expectation for an event in mind, and things didn’t go as planned eventually, you may feel bad about it. The feeling of disappointment may cause you to be sad at that moment. That’s okay. It is your mind’s way of interpreting what had just happened to you relative to what you had hoped for. Denying your experience with these emotions is only self-deceit.
Feeling these emotions then isn’t the problem.
Prolonging these negative emotions is where the problem usually lies. While it is absolutely fine to not feel happy about a wrong turn of an event, intentionally having a pity party about it could be dangerous to your emotional health over a long time, if you do not take charge to also let go.
The reason being that emotions grow when fed. If you keep on ruminating about this sad occurrence, and go out looking for more reasons why you are justified to feel that way, you may get to a stage where you no longer have the control. This may lead to depression, anxieties or more affective disorders.
Depression is worse than just being unhappy because of some issues that had happened to you. However, when those feelings of despair leaves you down for far longer than is normal, such that you lose interest in most of your daily activities, then may be something more than just being sad is happening to you.
Although depression is similar to the feelings of momentarily low ebbs, it is much more than that. Usually, doctors would look for symptoms that have lasted for a period of 2-3 weeks before one can be diagnosed as depressed.
Depression is a form of mood disaster that is accompanied with the feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in life’s activities.
What this means is that just being sad isn’t enough evidence that you are depressed. And one must not use these words interchangeably. Because depression isn’t something we should ever hope for in anyone’s life. It is a mental illness that affects the general wellbeing of the sufferer.
We live in an environment where people are shy of being expressive about their emotions. So one would expect cover up of mood swings as well. A lot of these people feel bad about feeling sad. It is something considered as a sign of weakness, or a sin, depending on where it falls in for you. Such beliefs may lead to a repressive, or suppressive behaviour of negative emotions rather than expressing it in order to deal with it before it grows more than it should.
If you think you are near having a depression, making more attempts at covering it up won’t help you. Besides, you are not alone. More than nine million Nigerians are chronically depressed. Nigeria ranks 30th most suicide-prone country out of 183 nations, and 10th in Africa. Among these people, only one-fifth of them receive treatment, unfortunately. And only 1 in 50 of these category have the treatment adequately.
If you consider our nation’s attitude towards statistics, then it may be okay to say that these figures may only be a fraction of the real thing.
The stigma attached to people who are depressed is one of the reasons many of them would never go to the clinic, or admit that they have had long time feelings of sadness and hopelessness so they can get help before it aggravates to depression.
According to reports, 10 out of 100,000 Nigerians commit suicide due to depression annually. Depression is the second cause of death among the youthful age group of 15-29 year old, globally.
Of all the signs of depressions, one so subtly known happens in the religious circle. Some religious folks with the assumption of seeing “visions” would be experiencing some internal emotional conflicts and refer to it as a move from God. This is usually accompanied with some sudden critical decisions, prior, with the belief that it was God who had spoken to them. A lot of these folks had left some good jobs, and business deals in the midst of abundance despite much persuasion to stay. There have been cases where some even moved out of their marriages as a result.
One thing that was common among them was that they had lost their joy during this period despite their beliefs about this sudden event being the voice they heard from God. There were depressive symptoms that were ignored dueo unawareness about what depression is, which may have caused their sudden desicision. Some become suicidal.
If someone isolates himself for a long time, with the excuse that he’s spending time with The “Lord” while looking unkempt and saying strange things he calls visions, it may be difficult for people to see him in another light because of the idea we have here about waiting on the Lord.
However, over time, it has become known that most of these cases as described were actually running out of their minds due to depression. But because they had never thought themselves as susceptible to it, they would assume it was some sober angelic ministrations.
The unfortunate thing about this is how our very religious mindset may not allow us see even the most obvious signs of depression in them because we’d rather excuse those as evidence of spiritual sobriety.
Please watch out for such folks. They may be in need of help.
Since depression is a mood disaster, it shows up mostly with a lack of joy in the sufferers. Usually, a depressed person may feel hopeless about life. They may experience low energy levels, or none at all, depending on what phase of depression they are in. And would either eat a lot, in cases where they have taken food as a form of comfort, or they eat very sparingly.
It is often accompanied with sleeplessness.
Depression also varies based on gender. For women, post-partum, menstrual disorders, and menopause may increase their chances of being depressed at those seasons of their lives. While financial and legal issues does affect men more than the women in terms of predisposition to depression.
Certain life time ailments such as diabetes, heart diseases, and bipolar disorder may predispose its sufferers to depression, too. Others are; substance and drug abuses, some medications for cancer, high blood pressure, steroids, cases of early childhood abuse, major life events such as death of a loved, and loss of jobs, or a major examination failure.
In our next blog post, I will share more light on how some of these events does lead to depression, and the preventable measures one must take should one be experiencing them.
One of the things you should know about depression is how the sufferers can become helpless about their emotional state, making it difficult for them to take charge of their feelings of despondency. Unlike the normal feelings of sadness due to some momentarily set back. The best bet then is taking charge of one’s emotions before one gets to that helpless state of depression.
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To your successfully evolving life.