Depression is a disease. However, unlike many other illnesses, the signs of this particular problem may not be easy to identify to someone not suffering from it. The common complains of those suffering from depression – negative thinking, irritability, upset mood – tend to be the types of challenges that any one of us can confront at some point in our lives. Knowing the difference between someone struggling with the general difficulties of life and someone facing a serious mental illness can be a challenge.
That is why it is important to make sure that we educate ourselves about mental illnesses. If you’re not depressed, but know someone who is, you should understand that. . .
Due to its classification as a “mental illness,” depression is often misunderstood; people think that it’s “all in your head.”
Well, that’s true. If by head, you mean brain. Quite simply, the brain of a depressed person is physically different from that of someone who is mentally healthy. The “feel-good” chemicals that provide us with a sense of pleasure and motivation are not operating correctly if you are depressed. That’s not your fault, that’s a genuine physical condition. Understanding that depression is based in the body, a person can hopefully realize that someone suffering from it can’t “snap out of it” anymore than someone suffering from asthma can snap out of it. The problem is in the brain, and the brain is just another organ. It does us a lot of good, but when it doesn’t work properly, that’s not our fault.
Depressed people can sometimes come across as lazy, depending upon the situations they face every day. While many do manage to overcome the lack of motivation that tends to accompany this illness, others often spend days confined to their bed, seemingly unwilling to contribute to the world around them.
The problem is, our sense of motivation generally has less to do with our character and more to do with the dopamine signals providing us with clear messages: “Money is good. Love is good. Vacations are good.”
To get these things, we know that we need to work. As such, we put ourselves in situations that aren’t always enjoyable – stressful jobs, demanding diets, exercise routines – in pursuit of life’s pleasures.
For depressed people, life’s pleasures aren’t all that appealing. The dopamine that would allow anyone else to enjoy an experience fully is not as active in their brain. As such, they lack the fundamental factor that would motivate someone else to get out of bed and go to work. If you’re depressed, life not only feels unpleasant in general, but it also feels as though there would be no way to make it otherwise; winning the lottery wouldn’t change your mood at all, because your mood is tied to your brain, and not your life circumstances.
So, the urge to add to your lack of enjoyment by going to work simply makes no sense. As far as you’re concerned, there’s no reward to doing so.
IT REQUIRES PROFESSIONAL TREATMENT
While the picture painted by depression is fairly bleak, make no mistake about it: it can be treated. Though patients respond to the different therapies available on a case-by-case basis, those who spend the time searching for the proper method of treatment often do recover.
However, in order to see this kind of success, the treatment must almost certainly be administered by a professional, trained to guide an individual through this illness. Many well-meaning people try to help their loves ones conquer this condition on their own, resorting to their personal approaches to mental well-being.
While their intentions may be good, they simply lack the resources necessary to properly treat this issue. If you know someone who is depressed, don’t for one moment believe that you alone can fix them. Your support may help, and you can almost certainly point them in the right direction, but in the end, they require professional care.
Thankfully, once they receive it, their life can truly improve.