Well stop. Depression is not a choice. Just like cancer, depression does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have, how rich you are, how beautiful/skinny you are, how great your kids are, or what kind of job you have. It’s just there. An uninvited guest that can show up anytime, anywhere. You become a prisoner in your own head, unable to escape the thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness and feeling guilty because you know others have it worse than you. You are not alone, you are not crazy, and most importantly, it’s not your fault.
Most experts are still not sure what causes depression but it seems to be caused by a combination of factors, such as the person's genes, his biochemical environment, his personal experience and psychological factors. An article in medicalnewstoday.com states that an MRI has shown that the brain of a person with depression looks different, compared to the brain of a person who has never had depression. The areas of the brain that deal with thinking, sleep, mood, appetite and behavior do not appear to function normally. There are also indications that neurotransmitters appear to be out of balance. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that our brain cells use to communicate. However, imaging technology has not revealed why the depression happened. We know that if there is depression in the family a person's chances of developing depression are higher. This suggests there is a genetic link. According to geneticists, depression risk is influenced by multiple genes acting together with environmental and others factors.
All of us get sad. Many of us experience “situational depression”, meaning we might go through a period of sadness when we experience something awful. Some of us might even have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). This is when a person develops a depressive illness during the winter months but the symptoms go away during spring and/or summer. Some of us may have experienced postpartum depression after the birth of a baby. And some of us have a daily battle with depression, no matter what the circumstances.
I am not a doctor and certainly no expert on the facts surrounding depression. There are plenty of places you can read all about the symptoms and treatment for depression (and you should…it is one of the most treatable illnesses!) I am writing as someone who overheard the above conversation and it broke my heart. I am writing as someone who has experienced mild depression (mostly situational and SAD) and someone who has friends experiencing depression. I am also writing as a professional who is seeing more and more anxiety and depression and seeing it in kids as young as kindergarten (I’ll save that for another post!) If you are experiencing depression, find a friend who will listen and not judge. Don’t isolate yourself and don’t feel guilty. Treat your depression as you would a physical impairment…talk to your doctor and get treatment. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. If you don’t know where to go for help, email me. I can steer you in the right direction. You are not alone.