What is Depression?

Sometimes this seem like the most popular mental health disorder especially with the way it’s been thrown around in conversations. “I am depressed”, “the movie makes me depressed”, “I am tired of the project – its depressing”. It is almost as if everyone has used the word at a time or the other to express a feeling different what mental health experts call depression and funnily, it’s as if everybody prefer this psychological disorder (if any is preferred) to any other “as often seen in treatment – when clients and family say, “I know it’s just a little depression” when it obviously a different illness to a trained eye!

Many times people confuse being sad to depression. Indeed, been sad is a significant symptom of depression but is not it! It’s part of the world of depression but surely not the whole. For instance, the head of a man is a significant part of a man but doesn’t define – explain – encompass – summate the definition of who a man is, so also low mood/sadness is part of what depression is but not depression. This might indicate why we often miss a depressed individual but notice and overreact to a normal emotional state of sadness.

Everybody will at one time or the other be unhappy about things not going the way they’ve expected. Therefore, it’s fair to describe sadness as normal human emotion preceded or triggered by negative or adverse life events. Usually we are sad about /with something. True with all emotional states sadness lifts after sometime (ranging from some minutes, hours, days) and we are back to our previous way of functioning. Many of us had ended a romantic relationship, lost a game, lost a job, unable to finish a particular study, failed an exam – even cried for some hours or days then moved on.

But depressive episode is different!

First, this is an abnormal state of human emotion (as stated earlier sadness is a normal state every human will go through). Depression is often described as a dark cloud or covering by the sufferers that is difficult to shake off because it affects every facet of the sufferer’s life. It encompasses sadness or low mood, loss of interest in pleasurable activities and during/with extended period of more than two weeks to many years (or a period of time in the at least two weeks or more varied timeline that is more of unhappiness than happiness). Depression unlike mere sadness, often do not have a specific underlying cause/ trigger. This is where it gets interesting – on the surface a person can have the dream life ( a well-paying job, a seemingly going well career, loving family, even beautiful home) but still be unable to shake off the dark cloud of low mood, loss of interest / pushing harder than usual to do previously enjoyable activities, struggling with sleep, difficulty concentrating, losing weight/gaining weight, struggling with relationships, feeling hopeless, assuming things will continue to get worse off, become sluggish/too agitated, feeling of loneliness even in the midst of people, blaming self for everything including things beyond our powers, in some cases (losing the desire to live, planning to end life, hearing voices of unseen people, etc.).      

Depression is a mental illness and not a test of will power by a supreme being. There are great people with symptoms of depression, rich and famous, obscure and world changers alike are affected by depression. It doesn’t look at our status, affluence, riches or even spirituality – it can afflict anybody. There are some major risk factors including genetic (family), negative life events, medications, other illnesses, past abuse that are implicated in the development of depression, these and more will be discussed in subsequent discussions.

If you’re feeling many of the symptoms described above, please don’t keep quiet, it’s a disorder that is treatable – why suffer in silence! With a combination of medication and psychotherapy or medication alone or psychotherapy alone (depending on its severity) this can be effectively treated. Please always seek help from a qualified mental health expert.

Treatment for depression does not happen overnight, it’s a process with multi varied approaches but at home one can start by taking life as one day at a time (know that today is not indicative of tomorrow), do exactly opposite of what the depressive mood suggests i.e. depressive mood – sit in bed (opposite – get out of bed), set small but attainable goals, create pleasurable activities.

Depression is best treated with a professional guiding us through, especially when the symptoms are not abating. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the major psychotherapeutic way of dealing with depression. Please don’t wait until the feeling takes over your life contact us today –   info@diamondmoor.com.ng, 022914084, +234 8128276962.     

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