On Monday, August 11, 2014 the world received the shocking news that beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams was dead due to an apparent suicide. As the story unfolded, it was uncovered that despite having a lengthy battle with alcohol and substance abuse Williams was dealing with severe depression. His dealing with depression has been linked to his taking his life.
For some depression is a sore subject to talk about. Depression isn’t a happy subject, but it is a very serious and real one. Hundreds of people suffer and try to cope with depression, but many do not really know how deep or how great depression can be on the sufferer and those around them.
A friend once described depression as being locked within a cage, placed within a dark room and forced to endure endless negative, hurtful, and dark thoughts. These thoughts consume you, pull you down and choke you as if you’re drowning until you feel numbness. And once you start to feel something, once you attempt to recover, those thoughts return and make you wish you can end it; end it by any means necessary.
It is this resolution—this feeling of ending—that those who are suffering from and those who know of people who are suffering with depression should seek help and to not be afraid to ask for it.
Considered a form of mental illness, Depression—as described by the National Alliance of Mental Illness—is “a mood state that goes well beyond temporarily feeling sad or blue. It is a serious medical illness that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, behavior, mood and physical health. Depression is a life-long condition in which periods of wellness alternate with recurrences of illness.”
Depression is consuming. More than someone being a bit miserable or a bit down about something, depression can impact anyone from men to women, the elderly to the young, poor to rich, and gay to straight.
“Each year depression affects 5-8 percent of adults in the United States. This means that about 25 million Americans will have an episode of major depression this year alone, but only one-half receive treatment. Without treatment, the frequency and severity of these symptoms tend to increase over time. All age groups and all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups can experience depression,” – National Alliance of Mental Illness.
For some, depression is overlooked.
Because it is considered a mental illness rather than a physical one, there is a stigma when dealing with or discussing depression. Often time people believe that those who claim to be suffering from depression are merely experiencing momentary down or saddening feelings. But that is far from the truth.
“Some individuals may only have one episode of depression in a lifetime, but often people have recurrent episodes. More than one-half of people who experience a first episode of depression will have at least one other episode during his/her lifetime. Some people may have several episodes in the course of a year, and others may have ongoing symptoms. If untreated, episodes commonly last anywhere from a few months to many years,” – National Alliance of Mental Illness.
Suffering from depression can be identified from several factors.
Being depressed doesn’t just hurt mentally, it can also hurt physically. According to sufferers, they experience physical symptoms that include muscle ache, joint pain, and a stabbing sensation within their chest. If you are depressed, and you are exhibiting these feelings it is best to seek aid from your doctor.
People who experience severe depression or depression can also feel nothing at all. Some describe feeling utter numbness or pure emotional exhaustion. Any or a combination of the two feelings are an indicator of depression, and if you or anyone you know feels this numbness or exhaustion seeking help from a doctor or therapist is essential.
But how do you get help for depression? You ask for help.
People who suffer with depression feel that it is not okay to find help because there is no one there willing to help you. Another feeling is that those who suffer with depression do not want to be a pest or bother to people if they attempt to reach out.
That is not so.
The feeling that asking for help may be a burden on others is just a construct of the depressive person’s mind trying to keep the feelings contained. The hardest thing we or a person who is suffering from depression can do is ask for help. There is help for sufferers of depression.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or is thinking that suicide is the solution to their problem call the National Suicide Prevention Life at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
For more information on depression visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness which has up-to-date information, articles, and fact sheets on the mental illness from those within the field of psychology.
And if you need to find a doctor or support group in your area where you can talk things out go to Healthfinder for nearby support groups or GoodTherapy which is an online tool to locate therapist in your area.
Don’t struggle alone. Fight depression by reaching out and talking about it.