Depression doesn’t have a specific ‘look’
Depression is an invisible disease that can be easily masked by a person wishing to present himself and herself as a happy man or woman to the world. Unfortunately, the outside world would have no inkling of what’s going on beneath the surface. All the turmoil, the emptiness and the exhaustion of dealing with depression can be hidden with a fake smile plastered on one’s face. And this is what makes depression so deadly and terrifying to the close family members and friends. When the symptoms of the illness become too much to bear, it takes a turn for the worse, sometimes resulting in a loved one taking his or her own life.
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD) or clinical depression, is a fairly common yet serious mood disorder that severely affects how one feels, thinks and carries out his or her daily activities, such as sleeping, eating or working. This illness deprives a person from living a fulfilling life. As per the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person would have to identify with five (or more) of the symptoms listed in the manual for at least two weeks to diagnose a mental condition as depression. One of the symptoms that must figure is either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.
According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 9 percent of adolescents (2.2 million) and 4.3 percent of adults (10.3 million) were severely impaired due to a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year. Alarmingly, one in four adults who experienced MDE in the past year contemplated ending their life.
Difficult to look through the cloak of depression
The symptoms of depression manifest distinctly in different people. While depression may manifest as wanting to sleep all day in some, it could manifest as sleeplessness along with the overwhelming feeling of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, despondency, etc. in others. Moreover, people suffering from depression could experience angry outbursts, anxiety, loss of interest in the normal activities, sleep disturbances, tiredness, etc. While some people may take to overeating to fill the void and emptiness, others may not have any appetite to eat whatsoever.
The changes in behavior occur over a period and can be subtle. Some of the obvious changes noticed in the behavior of the people going through depression include a conspicuous drift towards alcohol and drugs to compensate for their feelings of despair. The wide variation in symptoms makes it challenging for family and friends to interpret the illness and it leads to delay in intervention.
Depression is more than a depressed ‘look’
People have preconceived notions when it comes to identifying people with depression. Many believe that depressed people are those who are always teary-eyed, silent, look longingly out of windows and probably wear gray color, as often emphasized in antidepressant commercials. Psychiatrists and treating clinicians may also fall into this myth and may fail to provide the comfort and confidence to patients. Unfortunately, even well-dressed, successful, and good-looking men and women who have everything going for them may be afflicted with this illness. There is no specific ‘type’ to identify depressed individuals.
The first experience of visiting the doctor for getting help with their depressive symptoms or suicidal tendencies is often not very encouraging for many patients. Despite their brave intentions in seeking help and facing the risk of ostracization due to the stigma associated with mental illness, their problems are brushed aside by the doctor with different types of deriding statements, such as “You don’t look suicidal….” The face of depression and suicidal tendencies can be deceptive and misleading. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the clinicians, family members and society to listen carefully to the first cries of help.
Depression can be cured
Considering the growing menace of depression, the need of the hour is to look beyond the preconceived notions regarding mental disorders. One needs to realize the fact that a depressed person can also be at the same time highly functional at work and home. It is necessary to understand the subtle differences in a person going through depressive symptoms to help him or her.
If you or your loved one is grappling with depression, contact the Arizona Depression Helpline to locate the best depression rehab centers in Arizona. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-233-3895 or chat online to get the details about the depression treatment programs in Arizona.