In my time working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, I have found depression to be a diagnosis that can be catastrophically debilitating if left untreated. It can induce havoc on an individuals entire life, and sadly often treatment is not sought until their world is about to crumble. However, the good news is that depression is treatable, and things CAN get better. In my clinical experience, I have heard patient after patient repeat similar themes in the midst of their depression, and the following paragraph is a synopsis of these themes. The purpose in talking about what the suffering of depression REALLY entails is to reduce the stigma associated with mental health, increase awareness, and most importantly for you to know that you are not alone!
The life of someone with depression...
Depression presents differently in everyone and may involve a depressed mood, but often patients report feeling "numb". They feel neither happy nor sad and feel almost incapable of experiencing emotion at all, or have such intense emotions that relationships are negatively impacted. Things they used to enjoy in life have seemed to fade away. They experience food differently during depression and can be constantly hungry with binge eating episodes and weight gain, or have lowered appetite often "forgetting" to eat. During depression, foods that one used to enjoy have lost their appeal and even the taste of food can be dulled. Other depression symptoms can include low energy, low motivation, and poor concentration. Suddenly the thought of getting out of bed in the morning seems overwhelming. The mental "fog" has set in and concentrating is nearly impossible and forget about paying attention in a conversation. Tasks that would normally be considered "small" now seem like climbing Mt. Everest. Personal hygiene and house cleanliness are often neglected-During depression the little energy available needs to be used for obligations...going to work, caring for the kids, and survival.
Sleep alterations in depression include reported oversleeping of 12 hours, 14 hours, and sometimes more. In depression sleep can become the escape from the constant darkness of depression during the day, and sleep starts to be viewed as a peaceful time. Conversely, in depression sleep can be impaired, with significant reductions in sleep quality and duration. Regardless of under or oversleeping, rarely does someone with depression wake in the morning feeling rested and replenished, but rather feeling drained as if they did not sleep at all. Memory starts to be impacted, and entire periods of time seem blurred with hazy recollection of details.
Intrusive feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness creep in and in depression the mind starts to think negatively. Suicidal thoughts can surface. Then to top things off, there is the irritability of depression. Logically, the individual knows that it is not rational to feel so angry, but in the moment the irritability is real-Someone chewing food, a taping noise, anything can trigger the irritability. Isolating seems to become the norm. In depression the thought of leaving the house and putting on the "mask" and the associated fake smile seems absolutely exhausting. There are the people who say things like "just be happy", with patients response being "gee, thanks, why didn't I think of that?" and the irritability only worsens. Often there is no clear reason for feeling depressed, which only worsens frustration related to lack of understanding in "why" they feel mentally drained.
When depression is at its worst, it feels as if one is at the bottom of a pit, with no way out, and no signs of light. At this point (but of course preferably before this point), a hand is needed to help in being pulled out of the pit, and once out of the hole to begin moving towards remission of depression symptoms. During depression the thought of feeling happy again can seem impossible. Take it one day at a time, and the day will come where you start to feel yourself again. IMW is here to help patients get moving in the right direction and not only get out of the pit, but stay out of it, and find enjoyment and happiness in life again.
Let's start your healing journey together.