The Depression Series Part 1: Major Depression

This is the first part of the depression series for the mental health awareness month. 

Although depression is spreading as we speak, clinical depression is often not fully understood, and is naively, by those who haven’t experienced it, confused with normal sadness or feeling the blues. This post will show the stark differences between major depression and normal phases of sadness or grief.

When we are going through a difficult time, it is obvious that we will have feelings of sorrow and grief. It is also normal to cry it out. However, these feelings and this phase has an end. Whether it’s a few hours, days or a month, we recover and move on. Our sadness isn’t debilitating. Our day to day activities are not affected, and we don’t let the sadness or grief overtake and control our words and actions.

Major depression however, is completely different. It is often the result of a traumatic event or a major loss, but it can also be the consequence of a series of traumas and adversities that have affected us for a long period of time.

Want to understand depression? Then read on, because I’m about to tell you what it feels like. The symptoms, the signs, the full works. 

  • The negative emotions lasts more than 2 weeks. 
  • Their day to day activities feel exhaustive. Even basic mundane things such as eating, grooming and maintaining good hygiene feels difficult as if there’s too much energy being used to complete them. 
  • They experience anhedonia. This is when activities and hobbies they once enjoyed and did regularly comes to a halt. Nothing interests them anymore. Nothing makes them feel genuine happiness. They no longer feel ‘alive’.
  • They feel hopeless and lonely. Not just the loneliness where they have no friends-but the kind of loneliness where they are surrounded by many, yet feel like they have no one.
  • They may either experience insomnia, or oversleeping. With oversleeping it’s a mixture of struggling to actually even get out of bed, as they feel like they have no motive for the day, and nor do they have anything to look forward to. It is also because they are genuinely so exhausted all the time that they have no energy, no matter how much they sleep. 
  • The same with eating habits. They may over eat (comfort eating), or they may lose their appetite and not eat enough. This can then cause obesity or eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. 
  • Feeling mentally, emotionally and physically drained. The body feels heavy like there is an enormous amount of weight placed on their shoulders, weighing them down. Aches and pains around the body is also very common, especially around the head and neck. They may also suffer from constant headaches.
  • Anxiety begins. Especially social anxiety. Being in social situations, even if it’s a quick walk around the neighbourhood, can feel intimidating and tiring. The chatter of people around them and the different noises of a bustling town, overwhelms and consumes all their energy. A heightened sense of self consciousness is there, where they feel like everyone is noticing and secretly judging them. Once anxiety starts, panic attacks also become prevalent. 
  • Triggers form. Anything that reminds them of a trauma can set them off. 
  • Feelings of intense emotion can then be followed by the extreme opposite-feeling empty and indifferent towards everything. A complete absence of any emotion and feeling like they are lost. A considerable amount of sufferers describe it as feeling numb. This is then followed by intense emotion again, usually caused by a trigger. This rollercoaster further debilitates the sufferer by the confusement and exhaustion it causes. 
  • If they do feel happy at one point, or are temporarily distracted from their depressive state, then as soon as they’re alone again, the feelings crawl right back and overwhelm them. 
  • Lastly, the most serious manifestation of major depression is when the sufferers resort to self harming, and forms suicidal thoughts and tendencies. They may feel so hopeless with life and their depression, that the only means of escape they feel they can resort to is self harming or suicide. They are hiding and suppressing so many emotions that they feel an unnatural release when they self harm. Some self harmers keep it a secret, but some show it openly. I actually knew someone who self harmed, and never hid their scars. As dark as that sounds, this is a sign that they are desperately and blatantly asking for help. They want someone to notice the scars, because to verbalise their dire plight, is just so difficult. 

Depression is real. Very real. It isn’t something you can just ‘snap out of’. It isn’t something where you can just ‘get a grip’, and it’ll go. It’s dark, it’s destructive and it is soul breaking. Reach out to anyone who you know might be suffering from major depression. They may display a pretence of being ‘okay’ and happy, or they may push you away. That’s common, as they feel shame, like there’s something wrong with them. They don’t want to be a ‘burden’ on anyone, and they think you’ll get freaked out by the intesinty of their emotions, if they were to open up to you. Keep knocking, gently, empathatically yet never in pity, and they will slowly accept the hand you’ve reached out to them. 

In my next post I will discuss another form of depression called dysthymia. For now, please leave comments on your experiences. I want this series to create a community of people who have experienced mental illnesses. Sharing your stories and views with each other will connect us all in a profound way, as well as teaching us things we may not know yet. Even if it isn’t you, but someone you know who is suffering, you can share your story here. If you need any advice, then again please comment, or you can email me privately on admin@mindelate.com, and I will give it my best shot to help you.  

To all my lovelies reading this post, please never stop searching for the light. 

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36 thoughts on “The Depression Series Part 1: Major Depression

    1. Absolutely. The facade is created out of fear and shame. That’s why it’s so vital to spread awareness on mental health and break the stigma that is attached to it. So that people reach out without being afraid and ashamed. Thank you for your comment.

  1. I know from personal experience that denial is another reason. The person does not see that there is a problem or even rationalizes as to why there isn’t a problem.

      1. I had some problems with it about 15 years ago and I refused to see that I had a problem. It was a rough two years of my life and it was even affecting my performance at work. It wasn’t until I accepted that there was a problem and got on some medication did I “snap out of it.”

      2. The power of acceptance in regards to anything in life, always helps us towards recovery and self improvement. I’m glad you reached out and sought the help you needed. Thank you for sharing your experience, I’m certain many readers will be able to relate to it.

  2. I’ve found that trying to describe depression to specific people in my life, is like talking to a brick wall. No matter how well you explain it, they just don’t get it.

    1. I understand. If someone hasn’t had any experience with it, then it’s hard for them to try and grasp it. It’s disbelief mixed with ignorance.

  3. Thank you for this post, especially the last bullet point. Self harm is so often the only way people can let others know they’re hurting inside and it can take so many forms other than the recognised ones. I shared my thoughts in my blog earlier today. Please feel free to stop by and have a read and let me know what you think http://wp.me/p8FYFB-8Z

    1. Thank you for your comment Letisha. And yes you are absolutely correct, self harm can be inflicted in so many ways other then the known ways. I will be sure to check out your post!

  4. Depression is an illness that many are ignorant about and it is great to see that you are playing a role in educating the masses about the symptoms of such a dark illness. I know on a first hand basis that it is difficult for others to detect or even understand what is the depressed are going through. What’s even terrifying is that some would display ‘smiling depression’ where he or she would appears normal or happy in the presence of others. The masks that they put on is something that is of a protective layer for themselves to ensure that their conditions do not define them. Much love. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. ‘Some would display smiling depression where he or she would appear normal or happy in the presence of others’.

      Yes! That is absolutely correct and it’s something I used to always do around family and friends. So many reasons as to why I did: a mixture of not wanting to show how vulnerable I am, not wanting to worry them, and also thinking they just will not fully understand what it feels like. My mask was more of a protection for others that I cared about. I didn’t want to scare or confuse them with the extent of what I was feeling and experiencing. Thank you for your thoughtful comment and for reading my post. I always feel elated when someone shares their experience and knowledge on this post, as that’s precisely what I hoped for. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. There is such a huge difference between depression and grief. There can be so many different complex emotions, thought and feeling states involved in a debilitating bone crushing depression. There is no way you can ‘snap out of it’. It is so important to educate people and most especially about how to treat the depressed person with empathy and tenderness. My experience is that to be told silly things by ignorant people when you are suffering so deeply, just adds to the suffering. A well written post. And I love what you said about reaching out to the depressed person, they may not be able to respond but is it is so important to know they will be loved for themselves even in the darkest night because feelings of being a burden or worthless are so crippling in severe depression.

    1. You’re absolutely bang on. There are numerous emotions involved and it causes absolute chaos for the sufferer. It’s so infuriating when ignorant people say things like ‘snap out of it’ or treat you like you’re overreacting. Hence why I included that in the post. Thank you for reading this post and for sharing your thoughts and experience ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. (Smiles back) Yes! I’m proof of that. Depression can be beaten, with the right kind of help, guidance and support. Thank you for the kind words!

  6. Hi, just read your blog a few moments ago.
    Mental Health week is a great time for everyone to reflect and more and more people with and without mental health disorders are starting to read and look for help.
    Your blog is very informative and needed in this ever changing rat race.
    Thanks for that and reading my blog.
    Cheers Mo X

      1. Hi, thank you ๐Ÿ˜Š
        I don’t know where you’re from or time zone. I live in Ireland ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช and yes spreading awareness is as you say is crucial.
        I’m just nodding off to my beauty sleep. 1.45 am here in Ireland
        Cheers and goodnight for now.
        Mo X

      2. Good morning the United Kingdom ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง, this sounds like the Eurovision Song Contest. Not long up and had a nice ๐Ÿ˜ด sleep.
        Nice to hear you’re following. I’m now following you.
        Thanks and cheers your Paddy neighbour.
        Mo X

  7. college degrees

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ๐Ÿ˜‰ Cheers!

    1. Why thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I hope your dream of studying that course becomes a reality. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I just wanted to thank you for posting this. I found this through Dray’s blog and I am glad that I didn’t just “brush it under the bed”, pass it by and all. Many of the things that you posted about major depression I can relate to and with. Thankfully, not the self-harm or suicide. Unfortunately, two of my daughters have tried to harm themselves before.Thankfully, not suicide. My youngest is seeking help, thanks to God.
    I won’t be long here but I never really thought of myself as having depression up until a few years ago but even then it never really fully sank in. As I was reading over each symptom, sign, full works; it hit me that maybe my depression has always been there. It is so scary to be in this place as I have mentioned to my doctor. Sometimes I just feel such darkness around me. What makes it harder or weird for me is that I believe in God and accepted him into my heart at a young age so in my thinking I shouldn’t be depressed. But that is not true. Christians are not perfect or immune from anything. Anyways, I am seeking help and have been on meds but will need to find something else as my depression seems to get worse. I cannot predict or control it. Sometimes the smallest little thing will set my depression off even after getting good news. Anxiety and panic attacks are random at best but I definitely can relate to even walking around my yard. Sometimes, kids scare me and I am 47. A therapist told me that they are triggers or stuck points actually. Stuck points trigger memories, feelings, etc..I was also told that I have ptsd which i thought was only for military, firemen, police, etc.. Not someone who was bullied as a kid, went to church, abused, and other things that are too personal for this post.
    Anyways, Thank you again for letting me share a small part of my story and for caring about sharing this illness with others.
    God Bless.
    Would it be okay if I printed out just this post not the comments to show my husband, family, doctor and therapist?

    1. First of all, thank you so very much for sharing your experiences with me in such a honest way. I appreciate and commend that as it is nothing but courage and strength. I’m almost relieved that my post has helped you realise that you may be suffering from depression, as atleast now you will do what you can to get the help you need.

      Depression fluctuates. So some days you will quite well, and on another day you feel like you are spiralling downwards faster than ever. It’s erratic like that. And just how your therapist has mentioned, you have subconscious triggers, where any familiar person, atmosphere, object or even sound and smell, can trigger you as it drags your mind back to that familiar traumatic or negative memory asssociated with your trigger.

      Religion and spirituality can help a great deal as it helps you focus inwards to your core being, and detach yourself from the pressures and demands of this world. However, we have to do our bit too, in order to help ourselves.

      It is totally fine for you to share this post!

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