Depression can leave you out of the normal course of your daily life at any time. And if you think that it is only a deep sadness that is improved by having a “positive attitude”, you should know that many people can be affected in their day-to-day lives by this disease.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a person who is depressed experiences a state of mind filled with “sadness, irritability, a feeling of emptiness,” a loss of enjoyment of life, or disinterest in activities, “the greatest part of the day, almost every day, for at least two weeks.
t is estimated that approximately 280 million people suffer from depression worldwide, which represents 3.8% of the estimated population, according to the WHO .
For half of those affected, one episode is all they will experience. But after three or more, these episodes are 90% more likely to become recurrent.
“When we’re talking about depression, we’re talking about persistent sadness that doesn’t let you function on a day-to-day basis,” Dr. Karen Martinez, a member of the American Anxiety and Depression Association Public Health Committee, told CNN. ADAA ), an organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment, and cure of various disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Depression, says Martínez, is a response to a loss event that a person experiences: the loss of a person, a disappointment, or something that can make them “question about the meaning of life, whether there is hope, whether one must follow.”
More than “lack of will”: this is how depression affects your day to day
There are people whose worst moments of depression they cannot get out of bed; bathing is a challenge for them. Eating becomes a challenge because the appetite is gone and the hope for a future is gone.
So why fight? they wonder.
“When one does not want to get out of bed when one is ‘stitched to bed’, one would like to (get up) and the body does not give it, neither arms nor legs. And inside one knows that one must get up, but it can’t. I think that in those moments is when the disease began to take power over one as a person,” Jonny Castro, a 28-year-old economist who lives in Bogotá and who was diagnosed with depression a few years ago, told CNN. four years.
“I thought and inside I felt that this was my way of being: introverted, suddenly a little emotionally unstable. But I never imagined that I had something called depression and I never managed to figure out that it was a really serious disease, ” Castro told CNN.
About four years ago, Castro had a very strong crisis that forced him to lock himself up for a week. During that time, he did not sleep, did not eat, and lived “very distressed all the time.” He then decided to go to a mental health clinic where he was an intern for some time. There he began to receive guidance on his condition, he was medicated, and then he entered therapies to stabilize his state of mind.
A similar situation occurs with María Alejandra, a 32-year-old from Bogotá who asks us not to divulge her full name. She says that she has dealt with a depression that she was diagnosed with at the age of 15, along with an eating disorder of bulimia and anorexia.
She says that when she has bouts of depression—which come back from time to time—she feels that she begins to dislike her surroundings and loses the desire to continue fighting against the current.
“At the moment that I am in depression, I feel that life was not what I wanted. I begin to feel a deep sadness that I cannot describe; an emptiness in the heart, in the body in which I say no more… It’s not worth it, I’m tired of going against the current”.
And getting up to do daily things isn’t a matter of mere “willingness,” she says.
“It’s difficult because (the will) doesn’t exist. You don’t see meaning in life. Actually, you wish you weren’t there. I have had suicidal thoughts in which I say to God ‘Take me’, I don’t see meaning in life It is a situation of exhaustion, emotional exhaustion, which leads one to be lying in bed, and even if they show you videos and photos of your loved ones, I simply do not want to because my soul is frozen, “says María Alejandra.
And Castro, says that while it is a matter of willingness to get out of bed in those difficult moments, he acknowledges that there are times when it is impossible to do so.
Why is this happening?
According to Dr. Martínez, from the ADAA, when a person is clinically depressed, they cannot find a motivation to get out of the state of deep sadness because their brain “is basically turned off.”
“In depression what is affected are these brain circuits that have to do with motivation,” explains Martínez. “So there’s this event where everything that normally helps us get out of bed, get out of the house, focus on work, those circuits, so to speak, go off and then you can’t figure out how to turn them back on.”.
On the other hand, the thought of a person with depression is so fused with the content of his mind, that this person ends up believing “firmly that his beliefs are a fact in reality and ends up questioning why” to continue, according to the psychotherapist Jose Verdejo from the Desanxiety team, a group specialized in the treatment of anxiety.
“Someone who has a negative perception of himself and with a lack of value, assumes that the rest see him in the same way and isolates himself socially, which creates a life devoid of opportunities for recognition and worth, which finally the affected end up accommodating as proof in reality that he lacks value and that he is doomed to suffer, demotivating him even more,” Verdejo told CNN.
Beyond a “positive attitude”
A frequent mistake that many people make is to tell a person who suffers from depression to have a “positive attitude to life”, to realize that they have everything and “there is no reason to be sad” or many words that more than support a person in this situation, they can give him more burdens and not be useful at all.
“It is a discouragement that is not relieved by saying ‘put a positive attitude on it'”, says María Alejandra.
And since thoughts are something over which people have “little control,” according to Verdejo, “this type of advice is not useful.”
“The person with depression has probably already tried to do it and got frustrated when he couldn’t, so he gets frustrated again when his environment insists on it. The support that a person with depression needs is from a secure bond, from an attempt to understand in instead of criticism”, says the expert.
Martínez, for his part, says that as a psychiatrist he sees cases of depression and anxiety very often, so it is important to talk about mental health to remove the stigma on these issues.
“The most I see is people who are having difficulties adapting to what is happening, to day-to-day situations,” said Martínez, who recommends seeking help in case you identify some of the symptoms that we are talking about here.
Although there are people who can recover for long periods of the disease, many must deal with the consequences of this disease for a long time, and there are triggers that can lead to severe depressive episode.
In the case of Castro, he says that leading a disorderly lifestyle, and staying up all night, causes discomfort, discomfort, and those are the first signs of a crisis to come.
“Last year, like in March, he tried to give me a very strong episode because I was very loaded with work, with study, with many things and I began to get a little out of control. However, I realize it and then I take the help, I go back to what I already knew I had to do and start again, let’s say to stabilize myself emotionally and chemically and everything”, says Castro.
For María Alejandra, the situations in which she feels rejected and insecurity of herself trigger anxiety and depressive episodes.
“When I feel someone’s rejection, that makes me nothing. I hate rejection. When someone rejects me, I feel like my life stops,” she says.
How to approach a person with depression?
Dr. Martínez says that the best way to approach a person with depression is to “focus on the behaviors” of that person and not on the person themselves, to avoid a critical or judgmental tone.
“It’s better to say: ‘I notice that lately you, who loved music, are not listening to music… or ‘I notice that I call you and you don’t answer my call.’ So focusing on behavior for human beings is a little bit easier than accepting that there is a change in behavior, that there is a change in our emotions.
For his part, Verdejo says that to help a person with depression it is necessary to show unconditional support.
“To help a person with depression, it is necessary to show signs of affection and concern that make them question the veracity and usefulness of their mental norms,” he says. “But above all, suggesting that you adhere to a psychological process that allows you to generate the necessary psychological flexibility to overcome your depression and build a life with purpose and meaning instead of continuing to be trapped in that past that damaged you.”
Currently, both Castro and María Alejandra are undergoing psychiatric treatment and taking medication to control depression. At the time of this interview, both said they felt fine and stated that they had not had a depressive episode for a while.
Both agree that the best thing people with depression can do is seek professional help and also a support network that can support them in the most difficult times they are going through.
And also, talking about mental health is important to remove the taboo from this situation that is very common, although silent, throughout the world.
Where to seek help if you suffer from depression?
Talking is way of letting it out and release pressure and if you don’t feel talking to anybody in your circle then you can talk to a therapist online and get steps to get out of your prolonged condition.