“Get over it.”…”Just be more positive.”…”How can you not want to get out of bed?”
People’s reactions to news about someone they know suffering from depression is shockingly insensitive. However, their insensitivity often arises out of ignorance about depression as a mental illness and misunderstanding the symptoms.
According to the American Psychology Association, ‘depression is more than just sadness. People with depression may experience a lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or excessive sleeping, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.’
As you can see, depression is more complicated than it seems and this explains why people at large are misinformed about this mental illness, especially with media portrayals straying from reality.
I found some minimalist illustrations by Nick Barclay, perfect and simple representations of depressive symptoms which hopefully can elucidate how each one makes the depressed individual feel. I just felt like I had to share them for this very reason and expand on the image to explain that depression is not just something you can ‘get over’.
Here are some symptoms of depression:
1. Isolation and Withdrawal
Isolation and social withdrawal are the most common telltale signs of depression.
According to Stephen Ilardi, Ph.D, associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, “When we’re clinically depressed, there’s a very strong urge to pull away from others and to shut down.”
This is the exact opposite of what we need while depressed because social isolation tends to worsen the illness and significantly affects how we feel.
Social contact helps counteract withdrawal and isolation so it is important to reach out to the right people and not just anybody when one is depressed. Social activities with friends and family can be helpful in this regard although it is imperative to keep in mind that they are not instant cures but steps to recovery.
2. Feelings of dread
People who suffer from depression find themselves feeling a sense of dread when waking up in the morning which could account for how they do not wish to get out of bed. Patients have described this sense of dread in more colourful terms than psychiatrists and psychologists do (blue, sad, unhappy, worried).
Terrie Williams said, “I would wake up with an overwhelming sense of dread and anxiety. I would lay there for hours, sometimes in a fetal position, crying. I would pull a sheet over my head.”
Others describe a feeling of heaviness that accompanies dread as well.
With depression comes hopelessness, pessisism and a bleak outlook for the future. Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust, found that depressed people held the opinion that their lives were not going to improve. In fact, they were certain of it. This hopelessness can lead to thoughts of suicide and death since depressed individuals see nothing left to live for. More often than not, those who have recovered from chronic depression reported that they were very happy that they did not choose to end their own lives. So long as they pushed through, they did find a light at the end of the dark tunnel that is depression.
4. Confusion and lack of clarity
Depression leaves people with a confused state of mind in which thoughts become unclear. There is difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions while depressed. This can have adverse affects on a student’s academics or an employee’s work performance, just to name a few. It is difficult to stay motivated during this state of confusion.
Other characteristic symptoms are:
- Loss of interest in activities that were once interesting and pleasurable prior to the onset of depression (eg. hobbies)
- Excessive sleeping or insomnia
- Overeating or eating less compared to usual
It’s been found that Type A personalities and Type B personalities differ in their depressive symptoms. Type A’s tend to sleep excessively and eat less while Type B’s suffer from insomnia and overeat.
If you’re interested in knowing the biological science behind depression, I’d recommend watching this video:
Hopefully we can spread awareness about depression and stifle insensitivity towards those who suffer from it.
Source of images: http://news.distractify.com/pinar/nick-barclay-depression/
Sources of information: