Few people know that I suffer from depression and anxiety. In fact, when someone finds out they tell me they’re surprised. I don’t go out when I’m depressed. I don’t interact with anyone in person except for family when I’m having a really difficult time dealing. When I’m online, I post and share about happy things, and of course the obligatory cat and other pet memes. I’m encouraging and supportive. But inside, it’s a completely different story.
On the day I volunteered to do this article, I was in the middle of a very bad depressive episode. I felt completely worthless as if I was a total waste of space. Nothing I did had any value. I felt unloved and unworthy of any love.
Now, intellectually, I know this to be untrue. I have family and friends that love me unconditionally. I’ve made a difference in lives with the work I’ve done in the past. I know I have a lot to offer and lot yet to give. But, when depression rolls over me, the mental fog is so all-consuming, it’s very difficult for any positive thoughts to penetrate. When it’s bad, I find it very difficult to even get out of bed much less focus on writing and other work-related activities. It’s like a tsunami of negative all focused inward, crashing down on me.
Depression affects more than 16 million people in the United States and more than 3 million children ages 12 to 17. Younger children can also be affected. It affects people from all walks of life regardless of background. It can interrupt sleep, cause changes in appetite/weight, cause fatigue, prevent the ability to focus and make decisions, and can significantly impair one’s life and relationships.
Unfortunately, there has been a stigma attached to depression, so people often choose not to seek treatment. But, what you need to know is there is no more shame to the diagnoses of depression than to any other illness. According to Harvard Health, “…there are many possible causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these forces interact to bring on depression…To be sure, chemicals are involved in this process, but it is not a simple matter of one chemical being too low and another too high. Rather, many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life.”
Many celebrities and other influential people have stepped up, sharing their own experiences with depression, so it’s helped to alleviate the stigma somewhat. On the day I spoke about above at the beginning of this article, I ran across Wil Wheaton’s blog. He has been outspoken about his illness and how it affects him. There were a huge number of comments on the post I read from people thanking him for speaking out. It helps to know we’re not alone at a time when we feel the most alone and vulnerable.
If you or a loved one suffers from depression, please seek help. If you need immediate assistance call 911. Don’t delay if there are suicidal thoughts.
In some cases, therapy may be all that is necessary. But, in others medication may be required to combat the symptoms of depression. Many experts believe that therapy and medication used together have better results. It’s important to discuss options with your doctor or other mental healthcare professional.
- Contact your primary care doctor. He or she will be able to refer you to a mental health professional.
- Contact your health insurance. Most will have mental health coverage and be able to provide you with a list of covered professionals in your area.
- There is also online therapy available. BetterHelp offers online access to licensed mental healthcare providers. I recently signed up to see what it was like online. The therapist I was assigned has been professional, and caring. She seems knowledgeable about my issues. She offered various ways we could communicate – phone, messaging through their platform, or Skype. If you’re not compatible with the person who is assigned to you, you can request another. They also have a financial discount for those who need help paying.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America
- Psychology Today
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
In the meantime, it’s important that alcohol and recreational drugs are avoided as these can cause symptoms to worsen and make treatment more difficult. And, making a few changes like getting enough sleep, eating well, and being physically active can help.
I put off getting help for a long time. I now take medication which helps tremendously. I also realized while checking out BetterHelp that talk therapy is beneficial as well and I’ll be doing more of that.
Please don’t delay. Get the help that you or a loved one needs and make this a better year.
Rhonda Hopkins has learned firsthand that truth is stranger than fiction. Her two decades of experience as an investigator provide her characters with a depth and realism that gives truth a run for its money. Having come in contact with the best and the worst that society has to offer, Rhonda’s imagination is filled with story ideas. Rhonda writes Horror, Suspense, Paranormal, and YA Urban Fantasy. She is the award-winning author of THE CONSUMING, and the zombie apocalypse series, SURVIVAL
You can discover more about Rhonda on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:
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