Before I tell you about my experience with depression, I want to give you some statistical data related to it, mainly so that if you suffer from it, you are aware that you are not the only person who is going through this. There are literally millions of people going through this challenging situation all over the world.
Table of Contents
- What the data of the depression says
- The symptoms
- Depression with no apparent cause
- When to go to the doctor
- What helped me cope
- How do I keep motivated
- When it starts to heal
- My recommendation for when you are well
- What’s next?
What the data of the depression says
A research published a few years ago in the journal “BMC Medicine,” conducted in 18 countries with different levels of income and involving almost 90,000 citizens, revealed that depression affected 121 million people in the world and that was the fourth cause of disability, however by 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that it will be taking second place. As of 2016, WHO on its website already considers that depression is the leading cause of disability and, also, there are currently 350 million people affected worldwide by this disease.
From that research it was shown that, for example, depending on the country, the percentage of those affected varied between 11% and 15% of the population, and the symptoms they suffered were also related to one of the following:
Symptoms: The serious signs of depression to look for
- ☹ Sadness
- ☹ Anxiety
- ☹ Loss of interest
- ☹ Lack of pleasure
- ☹ Feelings of guilt
- ☹ Low self-esteem
- ☹ Sleep problems
- ☹ lack of appetite
- ☹ Low energy and lack of concentration
Finally, it should also be noted that the investigation shows that, in the case of women, they are twice as likely to be depressed as men. I know, this is not surprising, given the difficult role that women play in our society.
Although there are diagnoses and effective treatments for depression, more than half of people affected worldwide (and more than 90% in many countries) do not receive any treatments.
Depression without apparent cause
Now I would like to tell you my experience with depression a few years back when I was 30. At that time we could say that I was healthy and happy, both personally and workwise for the most part. However, soon after this, I came across a series of events related to the loss of my home, loss of income, and trouble in my relationship with my wife which triggered a terrible moment of depression, I never saw it coming and by the time I realized it, I was completely immersed in it, without any way to avoid it. I saw no escape, no hope.
I remember the symptoms, I was going through a mixture of almost all the negative emotions you can think of such as boredom, indecisiveness, low self-esteem, anxiety and deep sadness. Just getting up to go to work was a horrible drag because I did not feel like getting up at all, I had no motivation whatsoever, nor did I feel I had a choice. In the morning, after a long time of thinking, I would return and sit on the end of the bed and there I would be thinking and thinking whether to get up or lie down again not giving a #$% about anything … but after a while just as I was ready to give up at life, something happened.
After I returned home from dragging myself to work, I remember I would sit on the couch, turned on the television and drowned myself with a deep dose of depressive, unmotivating, and anxiety-causing news. This only made things worse, yet somehow I found it oddly satisfying, this is because all these bad news only confirmed the belief I had now formed– that life was difficult, and many times scary and had many reasons to be fearful.
Then I would go and lay in my bed, refusing to do anything else. I would just lay there thinking about my life. Thinking about all my failures, and wondering what or how exactly had I gotten to this point in my life. I was feeling so sorry for myself I came to a point where I just didn’t want to exist anymore.
At one point I had gotten so low, scraping at the bottom of the barrel I refused to do any basic things such as shaving and even taking a shower. My kids would see me and knew something was wrong but they didn’t fully understand what or why.
When to go to the doctor and clinical depression
From many movies I had seen how the psychiatrist listened to his patient, while the patient spoke rumbling on the couch, I thought that would be my experience with the specialist. Well, not exactly, I went into his office once, he invited me to sit down and he said “Tell me what’s wrong”, he listened to me for 5 minutes, then I remember that he listened to me, he looked around here and there and finally he quickly dispatched me with the prescription of some pills, antidepressants. What a disappointment!
I think it is advisable to go to the doctor for a diagnosis as soon as possible, especially if you feel alone having no family or friends’ support and need help (as long as we learn to identify the symptoms described earlier) just try to be realistic and not to make it over-dramatic, because there are people who at the slightest symptom leave everything and then go to the doctor, that is not necessarily always good either. But generally, it’s a good idea to seek professional help when you have been experiencing symptoms for a while without any improvement, or when things start to get worse.
What helped me cope
Previously, I did not mention several very important points such as coping with depression especially in the long run, things that helped me get out of that situation. One of the main points, however, is that only with time have I been able to realize the importance that certain things had for my recovery. I’ll detail what some of these things were to help you:
The moment of inflection, in which I began the path of recovery, was the moment my sudden realization of life at the bottom of the barrel in a way showed and gave me an ultimatum because if I didn’t do something about it, my life would go into what I could only describe at the time as “permanent chaos.” It is known that our brain reacts in a special way when it perceives an “understanding” situation of danger, namely the amygdala, located in the prefrontal cortex, responsible for activating that state in our brain. And I think that ultimatum produced a different reaction in me, moving to take another action as to what I was doing.
This involved the determined state of mind to find answers to my own understanding as a human being, the understanding of deep questions such as the purpose of life. For some, this can mean a simple visit to the doctor. So, as a moral at this point, I would say that it is very important that you do not isolate yourself, but take a different action than what you have been doing, also let yourself be accompanied by someone who loves you and helps you to get out of this depressive state.
Being realistic, I have to admit that I received not much psychological help from a doctor, but neither could I find comfort for myself just laying or sitting on the couch doing nothing! However, it is also true that for some people antidepressants prescribed can help provide a significant decrease in the level of anxiety, thus allowing some a degree of constructive reflection and can serve as a starting point towards recovery. So, as a general advice, I think that in a situation with serious symptoms of depression it is a priority to have a professional specialist make a diagnosis and help you in the way that best fits your situation.
Coupled with my deep thinking about my life in general that initiated a desire for answers, the other key point for my recovery was related to other mental values. Here’s the example. From my adult influencers which included my grandfather, as a child I learned the importance to be a responsible person, I believe this attitude was what prevented me from quitting during those moments I headed out to work, and although every morning was a torment to get going to go work, once I left home, there was no turning back, because going to work was part of my responsibility and so I almost miraculously placed my depressed state behind during this time. Only once did I feel so bad that I left for my house before my shift ended.
The point is, what I’m trying to say is that people tend to attach great importance to the values and moral principles that are established deep within them. This is a sort of mental programming that happens from the moment we are born and on. With consistency, this becomes deeply ingrained in our mind and it is often difficult to look at it a different way. By the way, this can be something good and other times not so good.
Anyways, while I was at work, I did not discuss my situation I was going through with my colleagues, but once I did discuss it with one of them, who happened to be going through something similar, I found out that this simple action actually helped. It is not that his story helped me per say, but rather that I shared it with someone going through a similar experience, this was a feeling of being understood, kind of like emotional oxygen! So, I would say go ahead and share some of your stuff with someone you trust, whether at work or at home, that can help.
How do I keep motivated
How can I keep motivated when going through a depression?
1. Self Talk: The most reliable motivator
Why can you be your most reliable motivator? Because you are the one person, who will stay closest to you, helping you in any battle you are fighting. The way you talk to yourself can set an ongoing precedent. This is why whenever you are going through a difficult challenge, make sure to tell yourself that you are a winner, you are meant to experience good things, that you will succeed at anything you do. That’s it.
It doesn’t matter what you are seeing on the outside. Just have the attitude that you are going to win in the end.
2. Have fun while at it
You have probably experienced this anytime you do some work, if you have fun while doing it, you don’t keep track of time. Therefore you don’t have any pressure nor strains. This is why it’s a good idea to do something you’re passionate about, it will take you many steps forward. A way to start doing this is by asking yourself some simple questions anytime you are working on a particular task:
- What is the best way I can enjoy this task?
- How can I make this fun not only for myself but also for the others involved?
- What is a way I can make this work and make it the best part of the day?
3. Learn to identify your growth
Anytime you feel you want to quit, give yourself credit, as you know you have tried your best up until this point. Most people would have given up by this time, but you yourself chose to keep going, to keep trying and pressing forward. So why even think about stopping now? It is up to you now in making this task a success. It’s up to you to make it work the way you want it to work.
4. Learn to train your mind to focus more on the positive things
One significant thing we can learn from the majority of people that are suffering from depression is that the human mind was programmed to focus on the negative side of just about everything they experience. This is why many of the typical feelings of worry, sadness, and anxiety are often inviting to the human mind.
So, it is crucial that you start to practice concentrating and focusing more on the positive side of things, the positive side of all experiences. You will begin to feel a lot better already, just by doing that. Really, if you keep this practice going forward, if you turn it into a habit, a way of life. If you make it a regular part of how you operate on a daily basis, you will soon make this a natural way of being.
When it starts to heal
I’m guessing you will want to know the moment I realized that I was recovered and how long that recovery lasted. Well, I’m sorry I can not give you that exact information, but probably not more than a year. This does not mean that a year is an average time for recovery from depression, it’s just my case. What I do believe is that if you are beginning to enjoy being and feeling healthy and more energized or have no significant symptoms, you are minimally aware of what depression even is by now, is a sure sign you are well on your way, or surely a sign that helps to shorten the complete recovery times.
My recommendation for when you are well
In addition to what I have told you about what I have learned from some research and from my experience, I will certainly tell you that your best tool to get out of depression is your own conviction that “You can, if you want” and if you are fortunately not in this situation, as a preventive measure I recommend that you gain interest little by little to know yourself better: how you react to stress, anxiety, etc., what happens in your body when something worries you; what you feel, what you think, what tools you have for your emotional management.
I recommend you to be interested in issues related to emotional intelligence, personal development, etc., the more informed you are, the more tools you will have at your disposal in case you find yourself immersed in a situation similar to what happened to me.
Would you like to learn the knowledge and understanding that helped me beat depression and change my mindset? If you’d like to learn how I was able to overcome depression with positive thinking, click here.
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