Depression is an illness and needs to be acknowledged as such. It’s not a reason to be ashamed. The reason so many people fail to seek help for their depression is that they are ashamed. Unfortunately, this is one of the feelings associated with depression anyway and makes the illness difficult to acknowledge.
If you are constantly feeling particularly low, well-meaning friends might tell you to “snap out of it” or even start to get irritated by your mood. Your depression will feed off this negativity and you may start to wonder why you can’t just “snap out of it”. You then start to feel that there’s something wrong with you because it should be so easy and it’s just “not right” that you feel so bad all the time.
Well, it’s not right and there is something wrong with you. You have a medical condition and you deserve treatment in the same way as any other patient. If you had a cold for six months would you ignore it and hope it would pass? No, you would dose yourself up with anything you could find and maybe see a doctor to find out if there’s an underlying reason for it to last so long.
Depression is sadness that lasts too long. Everyone is sad at some point in their lives, but depression is more than that. It is a feeling that you can’t bring yourself up from the bottom. In the end you give up trying. People start to avoid you. You feel worse. You need to find external help to treat the problem in the same way as you would if you had a long-lasting cold. You could try herbal remedies – there are some in your pharmacy – or you could see your doctor. There may be an underlying physical cause for your depression.
If your doctor cannot help you they may refer you for counselling. Don’t be embarrassed to go for counselling, but do make sure you are comfortable with your counselor. If not, try another one. Counselling should not be discounted because you don’t feel comfortable with your first choice of practitioner. In everyday life you will naturally find that you get on with some people and clash with others. You cannot afford to have a personality clash with your counsellor. On the other hand, you must be sure that it is a personality clash and not just that you don’t agree with what they are saying. A general rule is to go with your instincts. If you like the person and seemed to get on well in the first couple of sessions then stick with it because they might just have touched on the root cause of your problem.
In some cases, acknowledging depression may be difficult because you have lived with it so long that you don’t know whether it is depression or not. If you have grown up with depression it is possible not to realise that you are actually depressed because you have no concept of how non-depressed people should feel. You may feel angry all the time or you may feel like going to the middle of an empty field and simply screaming. You may feel anxious, have trouble sleeping or even sleep too much. You may think that your family would be better off without you (and actually believe that to be true) and may have considered running away or suicide. You may worry about death all the time (yours or someone else’s) and not let yourself be happy just in case (or even “I must enjoy this now in case”).
If you are feeling any or all of the above then you need to consider talking to someone. Even if it is just a friend or family member to start with, they may be able to advise you and encourage you to seek professional help.
Once you have acknowledged that you have depression, please remember that it is a medical condition and can be treated. You don’t have to feel this way forever. Nobody actually thinks of you the way you think they do. Talk to someone. Seek and accept help and you will find that there is a different way of seeing life.