Depression is not new. It’s an ailment that can be traced back to Mesopotamian time when it was called “melancholia.” It’s an illness that affects a large portion of the population – all ages – in some form or another. Similar to the way someone could suffer from the common cold, fever, or pneumonia, there are various degrees of anxiety and depression.
Aside from it being very common, there’s another misconception that I want to address: Depression is NOT A side-effect of being sad or weak and it is NOT something we simply “get over.” Too many – those who suffer and those who have experienced loss because of depression – remain silent and that propels the stigma surrounding mental illness. Because of this stigma, many people keep their struggle silent; not only do people suffering not talk to family and friends, they don’t seek the professional help they need. Being honest about the stress, anxiety, and depression you feel is critical.
The idea of sharing your thoughts and feelings when experiencing depression is overwhelming and often feels like talking about it is more painful than dealing with it.
I suffered from mild depression as a teenager and young adult but never spoke about it. I didn’t know it was depression. I was lucky enough to power my way through it, but many aren’t. I didn’t educate myself and no one talked about it so I remained ignorant on the subject. That’s one of the reasons I never had this conversation with my son and didn’t recognize some of the symptoms when he was suffering. It’s too late for him and me but it’s not too late for you.
Depression is the “ultimate disconnection.”
The reality remains that you don’t have to experience this. Being open and honest about it is your first step to overcoming the illness. It can start with sharing your feelings with friends. It’s also a good idea to share your feelings with your personal doctor. That’s a first step to connecting with a support group or mental health practitioner. Sharing what you’re experiencing – and the symptoms you’re dealing with – with people around you helps YOU understand what you’re going through as much as it does them.
Take the time to talk about your feelings and experiences with anxiety and depression. Even if you’re not suffering from it yourself, you have the power to give other the courage to do so by breaking the silence and stigma.