Understanding what clinical depression is and what it is not

The first step in dealing with depression is to understand what it is, and what it is not. Clinical depression occurs more commonly in women than in men, and nearly 15% of the entire population will face this disorder at one point or another.

What it is

So, what exactly is it? People who have never suffered from true depression typically associate it with grief or despair. Clinical depression, however, goes deeper than just typical sadness or feeling depressed for a short while. Though everyone will encounter feelings of grief and despair from time to time, a person suffering from clinical depression will feel that way all the time.

Clinical depression is an illness that can have a devastating impact on the sufferer’s life. If the sufferer does not succeed in dealing with it with proper help and support from friends and family, his or her condition will worsen, possibly leading to eventual suicide.

Loss of interest and enjoyment in all activities (whether work-related or leisurely ones) and relationships is one of the most common symptoms. Other common symptoms of depression include being easily irritated, constantly feeling guilty, lethargic, helpless and anxious, not caring about anyone or anything, having difficulty sleeping or eating, sometimes with drastic changes in sleeping and eating patterns, and difficulty in concentrating on simple tasks.

While not everyone who is dealing with depression will have encountered all of the above symptoms or face the same severity of symptoms, having multiple symptoms is indicative of clinical depression. It is best to seek proper diagnosis and treatment from a trained professional. Treatments include counseling and medication.

What it is not

If you are suffering from depression, then you must understand that there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. People who have never suffered from clinical depression might have difficulty believing your condition, and might think you can just snap out of it. Perhaps they might have said unkind words (sometimes unintentionally) or offhandedly criticised your condition. Understand that this is a real illness, and that depression certainly is NOT a sign of weakness on your part, nor is it “all in your mind”. Do not feel ashamed or guilty for your condition.

Depression is typically caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, which could have been brought about by sudden trauma, or long-term anxiety and stress. To successfully end your depression, you can first try to change your diet to include more healthy options including vitamins which can aid in rebalancing those chemicals. Exercise, too, is known to help lift your mood. Talking to your family and friends can be theraupetic too. If these are not viable options for you, seeking proper medical treatment, and taking medication if necessary, is still your best option for recovery.

Accepting and understanding that you are not to blame is a crucial step in dealing with depression. Sufferers of depression typically find themselves in a vicious self-blame cycle; they know, thanks to society and even well-meaning friends and family, that they “should not” be feeling the way they are. They may question themselves, why they are so lazy/unmotivated/weak-minded, or why they can’t seem to just “get over themselves” and “snap out of it”. This makes them feel guilty and helpless for being that way, which in turn makes them fall ever deeper into the pit of depression. Remember that other people may not have experienced clinical depression and thus do not understand its extent. Nonetheless, your condition is indeed real, and can be properly treated if you seek prompt medical help.

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