Depression doesn’t just hurt you; it also hurts everyone around you. There is nothing more depressing than talking to a person who is depressed, sometimes lasting weeks, months, and even years. Everything you suggest that might help, they return with a negative statement and attitude. You do your best to help them out of it, but it seems they have brought you down instead. But there is a cure.
When we’re miserable and think despairing and hopeless thoughts, we can dig our own grave. But by setting our minds upon the Lord, we come into a whole new state of consciousness. No longer one of total despair and hopelessness, but one of victory and hope. And that’s what Jeremiah did.
He changed his thought patterns from, “Oh, woe is me, and there’s no one to help me” to thinking, “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). You can get into this self-pity mode very quickly by concentrating upon yourself, but as you begin to think about the Lord, He will lift you out of the deepest depression.
Everyone feels depressive symptoms from time to time. But these days, more and more people are suffering from a low-grade depression that hangs on. Their day-to-day lives feel heavy from overwhelming, sad, anxious, or empty moods. Many people don’t even realize they are depressed because they’re so used to feeling this way. They think depression is more extreme than the sense of resignation or hopelessness they feel.
The Dictionary Describes Why Depression Sucks
Feeling pressed down, sad, gloomy, lower in spirits, dispirited; a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason; a low state of functional activity.
When these feelings are ongoing, they can result in fatigue and loss of energy, problems with sleep, irritability and anxiety, poor concentration, difficulty making decisions, loss of pleasure or interest in daily activities, weight gain or loss, and problems in relationships communications. It’s important to realize that it’s normal for healthy people to have these feelings and experiences at different times. But if these moods occur together and often, it has crossed over into a major depression.
‘Everyone has negative thoughts, and everyone believes their negative thoughts sometimes. But not everyone develops depression or emotional suffering.’
History Of Depression
Depression is a significant contributor to the global burden of disease and affects people in all communities worldwide. Today, depression is estimated to affect 350 million people. The World Mental Health Survey conducted in 17 countries found that about 1 in 20 people reported having an episode of depression in the previous year. Depressive disorders often start at a young age; they reduce people’s functioning and often are recurring. For these reasons, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide in terms of total years lost due to disability.
The demand for curbing depression and other mental health conditions is rising globally. Depression is a common mental disorder with mood swings, loss of interest or pleasure, decreased energy, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, and poor concentration. Moreover, depression often comes with symptoms of anxiety. These problems can become chronic or recurrent and lead to substantial impairments in individuals’ ability to take care of their everyday responsibilities. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.
Almost 1 million lives are lost yearly due to suicide, translating to 3000 suicide deaths every day. For every person who contemplates suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their life (WHO, 2012). A person can suffer from multiple variations of depression, with the most general distinction being depression in people who have or do not have a history of manic episodes. The depressive episode involves mood swings, loss of interest and enjoyment, and increased fatigability. Depending on the number and severity of symptoms, a depressive episode can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe.
Depression sucks. An individual with a mild depressive episode will have difficulty continuing with everyday work and social activities but will probably not cease to function. On the other hand, during a severe depressive episode, it is doubtful that the sufferer will be able to continue with social, work, or domestic activities, except to a minimal extent.
Bipolar affective disorder typically consists of manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood. Manic episodes involve elevated mood and increased energy, resulting in over-activity, speech pressure, and decreased need for sleep. While depression is the leading cause of disability for both males and females, the burden of depression is 50% higher for females than males (WHO, 2008). Depression is the leading cause of disease burden for women in high-income and low- and middle-income countries (WHO, 2008).
Research in developing countries suggests that maternal depression may be a risk factor for poor growth in young children (Rahman et al., 2008). This risk factor could mean that maternal mental health in low-income countries may substantially influence development during childhood, with the effects of depression affecting this generation and the next. For decades, established psychotherapists have held firm to the assumption that depression is a biological disease of the brain and that a lack of the neurotransmitter serotonin primarily causes depressive symptoms.
As a result, for many years, many therapists have prescribed medication – so-called ‘happy pills’ – as the first step when patients have presented with depressive symptoms. Patients may also have been offered a consultation with a psychologist or psychotherapist trained in conversational therapy. The purpose of these conversations has been, in many cases, to map and process problems and trauma or to turn negative thoughts into more positive or realistic thoughts.
However, groundbreaking new research shows that depression is a condition that the individual can essentially control. It occurs when we deal with negative thoughts and feelings in inappropriate ways. Therefore, we can reduce the risk of melancholy and depression by learning to relate to our negative thoughts and feelings more appropriately. We learned that it is a condition that strikes either because of an emotional crisis or chemical imbalance in the brain. There is no avoidance of depression in these assumptions.
It is nothing we can change. We have learned that depression arises according to the situation – no matter how we handle it. Despite this being a commonplace and firm opinion, new research shows that this is not how depression works. We all get scrapes and scratches on our bodies and souls throughout life. We experience crises, defeats, illnesses, and disappointments.
We feel pain, grief, fear, sadness, frustration, and anger, but we don’t all become depressed. Why not? The answer is found in those strategies we each use whenever we face a crisis and negative thoughts. Some methods are so inappropriate that they lead us straight into depressive symptoms. Therapists have suggested that depressive symptoms and other mental illnesses hit us externally when life is painful. Treatment methods have, as a result, focused on processing the traumas and bad experiences believed to have accumulated in a person’s mind.
This was repeated in therapeutic circles when Adrian Wells and his colleague Gerald Matthews presented an entirely new model of the human mind in the early 1990s, after many years of research. They documented that, as a rule, the mind regulates itself; just as our body can often heal itself, so too can our psyche. Over thousands of years, the human body has developed the ability to heal wounds and bones after cuts and breaks.
We learned in childhood that after a fall from a bike, a bloody knee doesn’t continue to bleed for the rest of our lives. It heals wonderfully, without us having to do anything ourselves, and it happens relatively quickly. But if we pick, scratch, and rub at the wound, it won’t knit together. On the contrary, we risk making things worse by creating infection and scar tissue.
As Wells and Matthews’ research demonstrates, the same happens in our psyche. In the aftermath of an unpleasant or unhappy experience, such as a divorce, accident, or fire, thoughts will naturally focus on this experience. The experience will appear in our minds, repeatedly, several times a day, in the form of thoughts and images. Naturally, these thoughts and feelings will be negative and dominated by grief, fear, sadness, disappointment, and anger. Immediately after the bad experience, the psyche will hurt and suffer like a knee when the skin is scratched off.
In the same way, our knee will heal if we resist picking at it, so will our mind if we refrain from fostering feelings by dwelling on them. Thoughts, images, and impulses visit us briefly but will disappear again if we don’t grab them, suppress them or otherwise try to deal with them. If we don’t keep them in the front of our mind for regular access, they will pass through like grains of sand in a sieve.
This new understanding puts an end to the earlier perception of the causes of depression. Because if we take the mind being able to heal itself as the starting point, then why do some people become depressed after a life crisis while others don’t? Wells challenged the widespread perception that unprocessed negative experiences contribute to depression.
He explained that everyone has negative thoughts sometimes, and everyone occasionally believes these negative thoughts, but not everyone develops a mental illness. Therefore, Wells and Matthews posed the question: if having negative experiences and thoughts does not in itself lead to depression, what does? What are the underlying factors that make a person depressed? Their research led to a metacognitive model of the human mind.
The S-REF model (Self-Regulatory Executive Function Model of Emotional Disorder) shows that the mind operates on three levels:
- A lower level is constantly hit by impulses, thoughts, and feelings. If we don’t engage these impulses, thoughts, and feelings, then they are fleeting and disappear again by themselves.
- A middle strategic level where we choose our strategies for dealing with our thoughts.
- This is an upper, metacognitive level that contains our knowledge of possible strategies.
Everyone feels sad or low sometimes, but these feelings usually pass with a bit of time. Depression sucks (also called a major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is different. It can cause severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. It is an illness that can affect anyone— regardless of age, race, income, culture, or education.
Research suggests that genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors play a role in depression. Depression may occur with other mental disorders and illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and chronic pain. Depression sucks. It can make these conditions worse, and vice versa. Sometimes medications taken for these illnesses cause side effects that contribute to depression symptoms.
Sadness is a normal and healthy response to any misfortune. The loss or expected loss elicits most, if not all, more intense episodes of sadness, either of a loved person or else of familiar and loved places or of social roles. A sad person knows who (or what) he has lost and yearns for his (or its) return. Furthermore, he is likely to turn for help and comfort to some trusted companion and somewhere in his mind to believe that with time and assistance, he will be able to re-establish himself, if only in some small measure. Despite great sadness, hope may still be present.
Depression sucks. Should a sad person find no one helpful to whom he can turn, his hope will surely diminish; but it does not necessarily disappear. Re-establishing himself entirely by his efforts will be far more difficult, but it may not be impossible. His sense of competence and personal worth remains intact. Even so, there may well be times when he feels depressed.
It is a mood that most people experience on occasion is an inevitable accompaniment of any state in which behavior becomes disorganized, as it is likely to do after a loss: ‘So long as there is an active interchange between ourselves and the external world, either in thought or action, our subjective experience is not one of depression: hope, fear, anger, satisfaction, frustration, or any combination of these may be experienced.
Depression sucks. It is when interchange has ceased that depression occurs [and continues] until new patterns of interchange have become organized towards a new object or goal …’ Though painful and perhaps bewildering, such disorganization and the mood of depression that goes with it is nonetheless potentially adaptive. Until the patterns of behavior organized for interactions no longer possible have been dismantled, it is not feasible for new ways, organized for further interactions, to be built up.
It is characteristic of the mentally healthy person that he can bear with this phase of depression and disorganization and emerge from it after not too long with behavior, thought, and feeling beginning to be reorganized for interactions of a new sort. Here again, his sense of competence and personal worth remains intact.
What Are The Different Types Of Depression?
Two common forms of depression are:
1. Major depression, which includes symptoms of depression for at least two weeks, typically interferes with one’s ability to work, sleep, study, and eat.
2. Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) often includes less severe symptoms of depression that last much longer, typically for at least two years.
Other Forms Of Depression Include:
· Perinatal depression occurs for a woman during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression).
· Seasonal affective disorder comes with the seasons, starting in late fall and early winter and goes during spring and summer.
· Depression sucks with symptoms of psychosis, which is a severe form where a person experiences psychosis symptoms, such as delusions (disturbing, false fixed beliefs) or hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that others do not see or hear).
Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depression or manic-depressive illness) also experience it. Depression sucks. For more information about this mood disorder…
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Depression?
Common symptoms of depression include:
· Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
· Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
· Feelings of irritability, frustration‚ or restlessness
· Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
· Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
· Decreased energy, fatigue, or being “slowed down.”
· Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
· Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
· Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
· Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and that do not ease even with treatment
· Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide
Depression sucks. It is a pervasive mental disorder in the world that affects us all. Unlike many large-scale international problems, a solution is always available. Efficacious and cost-effective treatments are available to improve the health and the lives of millions of people worldwide suffering from depression.