With 1 in 4 people suffering from a mental illness its almost inevitable that we will know someone with a mental health issue at some point. It is also more than likely that we will know someone who has or does suffer from depression.
Depression is a mental health illness that can affect anyone at any time, however it is not a one cap fits all type diagnosis. The thing with depression is, it is one of the most commonly known mental health diagnosis and as such it can often be misused by individuals who self-diagnose when wanting some time off work or are suffering a period of low mood. However this, along with a lack of true understanding, has led to a cynical response by the community to depression. Diagnosed depression is a very debilitating illness and for those that truly live it they can tell you how all-encompassing it can be. However due to the reaction of others most people won’t admit to having depression or ask for help for fear of not being believed or supported.
The biggest misconception with depression is that it can only affect people who are in a state of despair – the homeless, the grieving, or those with a terminal illness, basically the perception is that in order to be depressed you need to have something to be depressed about. This is just not the case, yet over and over again we hear comments like –
“what has she/he got to be depressed about, gorgeous home, well paid job, 2 kids a and a loving partner”
“Get over it”
“Pull yourself together”
Depression doesn’t work like that. Raising awareness of depression is brilliant and will contribute to reducing the stigma, but this will not truly happen until individuals are educated and understand depression. Did you know that there are different types of depression? Most individuals will know the difference between post-partum depression and ‘depression’ but there’s more to it than that. Here are a few of the different types of depression that can affect people:
Reactive – This is the depression that the majority of the population are familiar with, it’s also the depression that people are most accepting off. When a person becomes depressed in response to a life event – death, marriage breakdown, job loss. Usually a person suffering from this depression will make a full recovery and will not be any more likely to become depressed again than the next person.
Chemical – this is when the depression is caused by a chemical imbalance. This type of depression will be treated with medication or in some rare cases ECT.
Postpartum – a depression that occurs following the birth of a baby. This is becoming more common with approximately 15 in every 100 new mums being diagnosed.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) A depression that is caused by hormones in females at the start of their menstrual cycle.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – when an individual becomes depressed during the winter months. No I don’t mean a little bit down because the weathers colds and miserable, I mean an actual depressive diagnosable state. This can be treated by anti-depressant and/or light therapy.
Diagnostic – where the depression is related to another diagnosed mental health problem such as bipolar/personality disorder/schizophrenia.
So next time someone tells you they have depression, please hold that thought of “what have YOU got to be depressed about?” because there could be a lot more going on on the inside than you know. Instead show them compassion, empathy and understanding – there’s a 1 in 4 chance you could be next!