Posted by: Ashley Baker | July 11, 2012

Depression: What Is It?

English: Emotions associated with sadness

English: Emotions associated with sadness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Depression is a strange thing. I should know. I’ve dealt with it most of my life. Thing is, up until recently, I didn’t have much of anyone to talk to about it. Some of the people I used to talk to just didn’t understand what depression was. Take my grandmother, for example. I’ve lived with her all my life, I still live with her, and she doesn’t understand depression in the least. (So, naturally, she doesn’t understand why it’s so hard for me to just get over it.) But let’s take a step back. The first thing we need to know is what depression is.

According to WebMD, depression is not just feeling sad, but also feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless. [1] Dictionary.com says it’s “a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason.” [2] And if you continue to look through the internet, you’ll find more definitions that roughly say the same thing.

Now that we at least have a rough understanding of what depression is, and in a sense what it does, what causes it? WebMD lists abuse, certain medications, conflict, death or loss, genetics, and other reasons, which you can find here. Sadness is a natural thing to feel when someone dies, but that’s not necessarily what depression is. Depression lingers afterward, and at least in my case, seems to sap the energy right out through your feet. You don’t want to do anything. You don’t want to talk to anyone sometimes. I can’t say there’s anything fun about depression, because there’s not.

This is something everyone needs to understand: depression isn’t easily cured. Most of us would love to be able to just “get over it” and move on. (I say most because I have found people who don’t want to be happy.) Yes, we get upset, we don’t have the energy others do, we have memory problems and there’s enough wrong with us that we could write a book about it. And sometimes we drive our friends crazy. Sometimes we end up with friends who really don’t care, and who end up making things worse because that “friend” can’t think about anyone but themselves.

I can’t make you do anything. I can’t force you to stop putting down people who are depressed, if that’s what you do. I surely hope not. It’s not fun to think every day, did that person commit suicide because of me? That’s never happened to me, but I’ve got something I can equate to it. My dad hung himself. And I often wonder if there was something I could have done to prevent it. The answer is probably no. But sometimes there is something you can do about it.

And if Six Billion Secrets, with all the people who were thinking about suicide there, is any indication, a smile can sometimes speak louder than words. If you can’t help by lending an ear, lend a smile.

Try reading up on depression, too. You might finally know what causes someone you love to act the way they do.

1. http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/what-is-depression
2. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/depression

Further Reading:

  1. Depression Center: Symptoms, Causes, Medications, and Therapies
  2. NIMH – Depression
  3. Depression (major depression) – MayoClinic.com
  4. Understanding Depression: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Help
  5. Depression Symptoms, Information and Treatment – Psych Central
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