The Unspoken Battle: Fighting Depression

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Depression is a subject that is very discriminated against and stigmatized in some African countries, including Ghana. The fact is people do not understand what depression actually is, and therefore victims suffering depression tend to never get better when they try to seek help from the society in which they find themselves.

Depression is viewed by the public as being “sad” due to some life events and they tend to say very disheartening comments like “everyone gets depressed sometimes”, which is the worst phrase to tell anyone suffering with depression.

After reading this article if you still go ahead to tell people to just get over their depression for opening up to you, you will understand it’s equal to telling that victim to “go kill him or herself”, which is also not just a phrase to someone with depression. They will actually go home and spend all night planning how to kill themselves.

Let me explain depression to you, it is not and never “sadness” or something one can “just get over”. 

Depression is a serious mental disorder that affects the lives of victims by negatively affecting how they feel, think, and act. This statement right here makes us understand that a depressed person, unlike a “sad” and normal person, cannot control how they feel, think or act when their depression comes up, usually called an “episode”. Episodes of depression can last as short as 1 week for some people and as long as months for some people.

Difference between Sadness  and Depression

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The death of a loved one, end of a relationship, career disinterest, loss of job, etc are factors that can lead to someone being deeply Sad or Grieved. It is entirely normal for feelings of sadness to develop in such situations. Such people might often be found mistakenly describing themselves as being “depressed”, which is not the case.

Scientists define depression as a chemical imbalance in the brain that NEGATIVELY controls the way victims think, feel and act, other than they being able to have normal reactions and 100% control of their own feelings, thoughts, and actions.

Some say depression is not treatable, but manageable, which means when someone suffers from the mental disorder called depression it can be managed for the victim to be able to live normal and control how they feel, think and act, and be able to have some control or understanding of their situation whenever a depressive episode arises. However, some do believe depression is treatable, which we all hope is true.

Depressed victims range from people who seem to have everything in life to make them happy to those that don’t, but depression does not care about money, family, kids, etc. It basically doesn’t care about anything.

Robin-Williams-suicide

We all remember one of the funniest actors, Robin Williams, who ended his life out of his battle with depression. This tells us how much depression controls thoughts and feelings, even the funniest man could not “talk himself out of depression”. Let’s mind how we talk to people especially when we do not understand their situation.

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Another popular victim is Amy Bleuel, the founder of the Project Semicolon Movement that was set up to help people with depression and prevent suicide. Amy was a great motivational speaker, i got to know about her movement last year and after a few months she lost her battle against depression and also committed suicide.

The causes of depression are not always clear. According to the American Psychiatric Association  depression can be caused by factors such as Biochemistry, Genetics, Personality, and Environmental Factors.

Depression and Anxiety usually go hand in hand because people with depression often experience symptoms of anxiety such as irritability, nervousness, inability to focus, and problems with sleeping.

There are different kinds of depression; major depression types, postpartum or postnatal depression, and other less common types of depression. We will discuss the two (2) main depression types;

1. Major Depressive Disorder (also called Clinical Depression)

People suffering with major depressive disorder or clinical depression experience recurring feelings of hopelessness, sadness without reason, and experience the following signs:

  • Loss of interest in all activities and hobbies including school or work
  • Gain or Loss in weight
  • Sudden “I don’t care” attitude
  • Trouble sleeping at night (insomnia)
  • Feelings of restlessness and agitation
  • Feels tired with no energy without cause
  • Feels worthless and guilty about all life choices
  • Finds trouble making any decisions or focusing on anything
  • Feels slowed down physically and mentally; real definition of mentally drained
  • Recurrent thoughts of suicide

2. Bipolar Depression (also called Manic Depression)

In addition to the signs of major depression or clinical depression above, bipolar depression pushes victims between two mood swings; the low mood (the major depressive part), and high mood periods.

In the low mood period, you will experience all the symptoms of the clinical or major depression.

Then there is the high mood phase where there is excessive energy, although unlike normal people, their high mood is excessive and towards negative factors such as increased recklessness and adoption of bad habits.

The symptoms to look out for in bipolar disorder victims are;

During low phase:

  • Loss of interest in all activities and hobbies including school or work
  • Gain or Loss in weight
  • Sudden “I don’t care” attitude
  • Trouble sleeping at night
  • Feelings of restlessness and agitation
  • Feels tired with no energy without cause
  • Feels worthless and guilty about all life choices
  • Finds trouble making any decisions or focusing on anything
  • Feels slowed down physically and mentally; real definition of mentally drained
  • Recurrent thoughts of suicide

During High or Manic phase:

  • Excessive energy
  • Overly feeling positive about life and self-worth
  • Increased recklessness and adoption of bad habits like drinking, drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, etc.
  • Anger and Irritability
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Has difficulty focusing
  • Poor judgement

Treating Depression

The treatment of depression mainly lies in the following;

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

My personal options added are

  • Lot of Exercise
  • ..and Praying

Any other ideas you have that have worked for you, feel free to present in comments and I will include them to help us all.

Do You Suffer Depression or Know Someone Battling Depression?

depression-guide

If you find yourself experiencing most of the symptoms mentioned under any of these types of depression please get help immediately!

No matter how suicidal you feel, Do not do it. And this is coming from someone who has and is still going through what you are experiencing. I am a victim of bipolar depression, you can send me a direct message on my blog anytime, although i will have to be online to see it.

In Ghana I’m not sure if we have any Help Lines for Depression and Suicide prevention, but I do recommend visiting any good hospital near you and asking to see their Psychologist. If you do not like who you meet you can always ask to be referred to another. I know they are seen as expensive but there are also very affordable yet good help out there. Don’t go through this alone.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope you have learned a lot.

By Jill Boafo

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