The word “depression,” much like anxiety, is thrown around quite carelessly these days. For instance, claiming the Lana Del Rey song your friend decided to play is making you “feel depressed.” While yes, her songs may invoke some type of emotion, it’s not the equivalent of depression. This is why mental health advocacy is so important in our current culture. Just as having an anxiety attack is different from being stressed about an upcoming exam, having a depression spiral is much different from being sad after listening to the lyrics of a song or having a bad day at work. Now it’s completely normal to feel stressed or sad, but it’s important to acknowledge the differences between a feeling and a diagnosable mental illness.
According to the DSM-5 (what mental health experts refer to when diagnosing), to be diagnosed with depression, you must experience five or more of the following symptoms during the same two week period.
- Depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities, including those previously enjoyed
- Significant weight loss or weight gain, decrease or increase in appetite
- Fatigue, lethargy, or loss of energy
- Feeling worthless or excessive guilt
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideation
Depression is truly one of the most gut-wrenching experiences to live through. Anyone that has experienced it can tell you it feels like you’re trying to breathe with no air. Like you’re trying to read in the pitch dark. Like you’re trying to move something stuck in cement. It feels almost impossible to see better days. It can feel impossible to think that things will get better, but they can and they will.
Depression can be different than other forms of mental illness because sometimes you don’t know why you feel that way. This is why talk therapy can be extremely helpful for treating depression. Getting to the root of the issue, if there is one, can help you begin to heal from your depression. In addition to talk therapy, there are some lifestyle changes that can help to ease your feelings of depression. This includes spending time in nature, incorporating socialization, working on your negative thought processes, and healthy forms of movement. All of these changes can naturally help relieve symptoms of depression. But sometimes, this is not enough. In that case more intense treatment might be needed, and we highly recommend consulting a mental health professional to come up with a treatment plan that best suits you.
If you are reading this, you likely struggle with depression yourself or love someone who does. Some of the most successful people in our history have struggled with depression. Depression does not mean you are a failure. It’s not your fault that you feel the way that you do. Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain. By using talk therapy, lifestyle changes and seeking help you can fix this imbalance. The light is right around the corner. You will not feel this way forever. Don’t give up on yourself and all the potential you have for your life. Depression doesn’t have to win the fight. You can.