Monday, May 2, 2016

May Mental Health Focus: Depression

According to NIMH, approximately 7% of American adults have at least one major depressive episode per year. This is defined as:

  • A period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.

Despite the high number of adults who are affected by depression, it remains a stigmatized topic of discussion, which also makes it difficult to assess the total numbers of people affected. To add to the confusion, some people use the word "depressed" in a cavalier way, meaning that they just got a bad grade back on their exam or they didn't enjoy a trip to the mall and found it depressing. This is confusing, because it adds to the collective misunderstanding about what depression means and about how debilitating it actually is.

Comedian Allie Brosh discusses depression in a realistic, empathetic and humorous manner in her comic strip "Hyperbole and a Half":

For the full comics on depression, click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2. Brosh's comics are a great example of how we can discuss depression with complete honesty and compassion. Anyone who has ever experienced depression will immediately recognize the shared humanity and understanding in her comics and will feel what a powerful impression that makes.

Depression is more than sadness. One of the best things we as a society can do to help those with this debilitating condition is to talk about it openly. Depressed people often feel incredibly lonely and do not have the motivation and energy to reach out to others for help. By discussing depression openly, honestly and compassionately, we make it easier for those who are depressed to seek and find help.

Here are some great quotes that describe what having depression feels like, courtesy of this article from "The Mighty."

“Having depression is like seeing a rainbow in grayscale.” — Hazel Strickland

“Depression is like being in a totally round room and looking for a corner to sit in.” — Laura Sloate

“Depression is having everything you ever wanted and you’re still not happy.” — Beaulieu Mellem

“It’s like having something heavy sitting on your head all the time.” — Megan Heasley Cutter

“Depression is like living without any of your senses.”— Drew McCaig

Visit the Carolina Partners Depression Treatment page for a list of providers that treat depression and for some excellent informational videos. To access these videos click here: or check out the video section of our blog.

We want to hear from you!

• What are your experiences with depression? 
• What does depression feel like for you? 
• How have you learned to manage it better? 
• Where do you think you could still use help?

In the comments below, please share your own experiences with that strange beast depression, including your stories, thoughts, triumphs, heartaches and struggles.