Let’s Talk About Depression and How You Can Get Through It

Depression is something that can bring down the strongest of people, but despite a staggeringly large portion of the population suffering from mental health problems, the stigma attached to it leads to it not being as discussed as openly as it should be.

CraveOnline, the site you are reading this piece from right now, is a leading online lifestyle publisher, mainly targeted towards a male demographic. With that being said, a variety of the topics that our content covers largely caters towards the fun, more superfluous aspects of life, whether it be health, fitness, food, drink, travel, sex or relationships. But relationships is such a broad topic, and it’s not just your intimate relationships with women and men that need to be maintained – the platonic relationships you share with friends and family are also hugely important in helping you to develop as a person.

Unfortunately, there’s no bigger strain that can be put upon these relationships than depression. Depression will sap you of your motivation and lead to you distancing yourself from the outside world and the people within it, but because it doesn’t manifest itself in a person physically, very few people talk about.

So let’s talk about it.

Firstly, if you aren’t certain of what depression is exactly, then the following three categories are understood to be signs of the illness:

  1. You don’t want to get out bed. We all hate getting out of bed, but your urge to stay tucked in between those sheets is less to do with how snug and comfortable you are, and more to do with how hostile and impenetrable the outside world seems.
  2. You feel detached from everyone around you. Being depressed means that it becomes increasingly difficult to engage with those around you. This means that social interaction becomes more of a chore than it does an enjoyable pastime.
  3. You begin having destructive thoughts, or “catastrophizing.” Depending upon the severity of your depression, your negative mindset may be relatively manageable, or overbearing and unhealthy. This leads to “catastrophizing”, a common cognitive disorder experienced by those with depression, which involves seeing the negative in every situation and believing that the worst case scenario will always happen. For those who haven’t experienced depression, this is often confused with simple pessimism, however, those who are depressed cannot control their destructive thoughts, which often leads to raised and sometimes debilitating levels of anxiety.

Even though depression is widely regarded as being “all in the mind” and therefore easy to overcome, if a non-depressed person tries to tell you that you’d likely punch them straight in the mouth. Or, y’know, shrug apathetically, what with you being depressed and all. Depression is, as your doctor will tell you if you choose to visit him/her (which you absolutely should), due to a “chemical imbalance in the brain.” Therefore, people with depression will have to “train” themselves to not be depressed – kind of like going to school to learn about algorithms and how to say “table” in French, only instead of working towards achieving a good grade, you’re instead working towards becoming a functioning member of society (whatever that is) again.

So what does this “training” involve? Initially, you’ll be pointed in the direction of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or “CBT” as it is known in the trade. CBT teaches you coping techniques that will help you overcome depression and high anxiety, though it is wrongly credited as some kind of miracle cure. CBT is as reliant on the participator as it is on the therapist, so in order to get the most out of it you’ll have to be willing to start progressing towards making changes in your life. If you aren’t, then it’s unlikely that a stranger prodding your brain is likely to help. This is why many turn to medication.

Antidepressants have got quite a bad reputation. Whereas someone with a sore head wouldn’t think twice about taking a Tylenol, those with a debilitating mental illness are somehow expected to carry on with their everyday lives whilst slipping further and further down what feels like a bottomless black pit. The stigma attached to medication, and some of the harmful information that is routinely circulated about it, not only leads to people refusing to take it, but even to some refusing to inquire about them altogether. The truth is that while certain antidepressants do have side-effects (which you can discuss with your doctor) they are commonly minimal, and do not outweigh the great deal of good they can do for you.

But will the meds turn you into a zombie? Absolutely not. The common misconception with antidepressants is that those who take them will become a walking, dribbling vegetable, with incomprehensible slurred speech and all the charisma of a particularly damp towel. This is not the case. Your personality will not undergo a spontaneous and unwanted makeover whilst you’re popping those pills, but rather it will quell your negative thoughts and help you to embrace a better quality of life. People often regard reverting to medication as an act of “surrendering” to the depression but, again, this is wrong – the person who simply carries on going, fighting depression every day and not seeking help is giving up by failing to help themselves.

So what of those closest to you? What impact will your depression have on them? Unfortunately, this is impossible to say. Perhaps you’ve got a tight-knit group of family and friends who will band together to help you through your time of difficulty, or perhaps you feel as though you’ve got no one to turn to in order to lighten the load. Perhaps you worry that talking about your depression will drive your loved ones away from you.The biggest problem you’ll likely face in dealing with your depression is the lack of awareness there is regarding the condition. For most, even discussing mental illness is too difficult and therefore it is regarded as a taboo subject, which absolutely does not help those who suffer from it. This is largely due to many not vocalizing their suffering with the condition out of fear of being ostracized, marginalized or ridiculed. The various stigmas attached to depression will only be broken when more people are comfortable with allowing others to see their vulnerabilities, but you should know that 1 in 4 people suffer with mental health problems at some point in their lives – and those are only the ones who admit to it. You’re not crazy, and you’re not alone.

So where do you go from here? You see your doctor, tell them about your depression and ask to be put on a waiting list to see a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist/go on medication. You take a look at your lifestyle, examine the facets of it that you do not like and, if possible, seek to change them. You talk to your family, your friends, discuss your problems and hope they understand. Or, you do none of these things, at least not yet. Your depression may have sapped you of your motivation and led you to believe that attempting to get out of bed is a hopeless task, but just know that when you do find the energy to do so, you have plenty of options to help you through this. Don’t be afraid.

Header Image: Hyperbole and a Half