Depression Is Not a Choice

Posted by on May 17, 2017 in PathwaysVoice - Blog | Comments Off

Addressing the misconceptions of depression.

Depression affects an estimated 300 million people of all ages worldwide. It is a common, and serious mood disorder that alters how people think, feel and behave. Unlike being unhappy, depression is an intense feeling of deep sadness and despair that can last for days, weeks and even months. The symptoms of depression can include feelings of hopelessness, rejection, poor concentration, lack of energy, sleepproblems, and sometimes suicidalthoughts. Depression is not a choice, it is an illness.

Depression is a serious medical condition that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affects approximately 8% of the U.S. population ages 12 and up. Although there are effective treatments, less than 50 percent worldwide seek professional help. People may be reluctant to get help for a variety of reasons, such as they think they can overcome depression on their own, or they believe that no one will understand how they feel. There are a lot of myths surrounding depression and the two most common are: depression is triggered by a negative life event, and people who are depressed should find something that makes them happy and “snap out” of the depression. Both misconceptions are not accurate portrayals of depression, and both feed into the stigmatization of the illness.

5 things to know about depression:

  1. It can affect anyone. Depression can affect people of any age, ethnicity, geographic location, or social position.
  2. It is common. The World HealthOrganization estimates that depression will be the second highest medical cause of disability by the year 2030, second only to HIV/AIDS.
  3. It may not have a cause. The onset of depression may not be triggered by a specific event. Depression can occur at any time and any place.
  4. It can’t be fixed quickly. Some who suffer from depression attempt to alleviate their symptoms by self-medicating. Their attempt to find a fast fix can lead to a life of self-destruction. They may turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, or other dangerous behaviors to help them cope with their thoughts and feelings.
  5. It responds to treatment. In nearly 80% of the cases, people who receive professional treatment for depression say it helped them feel better. Treatment may include a combination of medicationtherapy, or alternative approaches.

5 ways to support someone with depression:

  1. Be patient. Depression is an illness that needs to be professionally treated. Healthy coping skills are learned and rehearsed, and that takes time.
  2. Listen without judgment. Talk less and listen more. Allowing someone to speak aloud their thoughts and feelings can be extremely beneficial.
  3. Focus on the present and take small steps. With depression, looking at the big picture can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s good to live in the present, and take one day at a time.
  4. Get involved and do something. Get moving, go to the mall, watch a movie, cook a nice dinner or just go to the park for a walk. When people are depressed they tend to isolate themselves from others. A great way to keep connected is by engaging in a fun or relaxing activity.
  5. Learn about depression. Knowledge is power. The more we know, the more we can proactively change the perception of depressi

Depression is a real and serious condition. No one chooses to have depression, just like no one chooses to be ill. Odds are most of us know someone, friend or family member, whose life has been affected by depression. The good news is depression is treatable, and people who suffer from it can live happy and productive lives. Treatment is key for learning to live with depression. As a society, it’s time we destigmatize depression, and understand it for what it is - an illness that no one chooses to have in their lifetime.