Mental Disorders and Illnesses are very tricky things to deal with. There is almost no way to prove their existence, aside from symptoms that are easy to fake (as sadly, some people do fake them so as to get medication or attention.)
Having one can make everyday tasks seemingly impossible: taking a shower, making breakfast, driving to work, little things that most people do on autopilot. On a bad day, these things can be what sends us into an emotional breakdown.
Now, before I continue, let me make an important distinction. Being depressed and having depression are two very different things. Being depressed happens when something sad or traumatic happens in your life. Just about everyone I have come across has had these feelings of depression at least once, if not more, in his or her life. Being depressed can stem from failing a test, losing an important object, losing a loved one, breaking up with a significant other, staying in an oppressive environment for long periods of time, or seeing a traumatic event. Any one of these can cause you to feel depressed for days at a time, but that does not necessarily mean you have clinical depression. It means that you are human and you too are subject to the push and pull life holds for all of us. Typically these feelings fade away over time, especially if friends or other loved ones go out of their way to provide something else to try to lift your spirits.
Depression on the other hand works quite differently. It can pop up at times where you have seemingly little to feel sadness about. Successful businessmen who have almost anything they want can be subject to depression just as much a teenager or single mother. Clinical Depression, so as is it’s medical term, is often caused by genetics or certain types of chemical imbalances in the brain. The severity of depression can range from making day to day life merely difficult and a little bit harder to work through, to a depression and sadness so deep that the sufferer can think about nothing but suicide. Try as they might, they just cannot see the bright side of life that seems so obvious to another.
The reason I know so much about depression in particular is because I too suffer from clinical depression. Both sides of my family have the chemical imbalance/genetic imprint to make depression a very serious ordeal. So believe me when I say I know what I’m talking about when it comes to depression.
Put it like this: depression is like having a constant hollowed out metal ball encasing your energy and will to live. You may be very capable of joy and looking on the bright side of life, but often that energy required to do so needs to grow past what the metal ball will allow. So instead you must make do with the small amount of energy you have, which often is not enough. Because of this shortage, you sink below what you are capable of pulling yourself out of, and feel that you can get nothing out of life. Often these feelings are imposed and unwanted. For a better understanding of what this feeling is like, look up Spoon Theory.
Most people go about treating this problem with medication. This is one of the worst things you can do, as the medication often has horrible side effects, some of which can be worse than the depression itself. Many depression medications have been linked to suicidal thoughts and often level you out. Anti-depressants usually take out your highs as well as your lows, and lead to a very level, boring person. This should not be the first approach to treating depression.
Recently I have started reading a book about a different approach to treating depression. It introduces the idea of cognitive therapy, based on the idea that depression stems from negative thoughts that can often be out of control. Years of study have shown that cognitive therapy was much more effective than treatment with medication. I highly recommend it to anyone who feels they are suffering from depression. It has a few tests that help you know how severe your depression is, and if you need to seek help elsewhere. However, there is a catch. For it to work, you have to want to be cured of your depression. This may seem silly, but a lot of the reason most people go straight to medication is that they do not want to put in the effort themselves.
In my opinion, medication should be used as a last resort. For those of you who feel you suffer from depression, seek out the help of a therapist. There are ways to make it affordable, and at times free depending on your circumstance. Talking out your feelings with someone who is willing, and knows how to listen can sometimes solve the problem right then and there.
Now unfortunately many therapists have the idea of putting their patients on medication before listening to a word they have to say. If your therapist does this to you, kindly request a new one before it gets any worse. There is a right therapist for everyone, and the person seeking therapy has to be willing to do their part.
Personally, I see my depression as a gift. I refuse to let it overcome my life and therefore treat it as a motivation to make my life better than it already was. In order to combat my depression, I need regular and vigorous exercise as well as a project to put my efforts towards. Without my depression, I doubt I would possess this much motivation to better myself, and for that I am indeed grateful.