According to Health Canada depression and manic depression, also known as a bipolar disorder, are among the most common illnesses in our society, affecting more than 10 out of every 100 people. Feeling sad or down is not the same as suffering from depression. Depression does not go away in a few days and is not caused by personal weakness or a lack of willpower. These affective disorders can be diagnosed and treated successfully. Depression and bipolar disorder affects not only the person who has the affective disorder but the entire family. The remaining focus of this article is on depression. Bipolar disorder has many of the symptoms that depression does and can be more complicated to diagnose.
The following are symptoms of depression: feeling tired or having little energy; poor appetite or overeating; feeling down, depressed or hopeless; trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much; little interest or pleasure in doing things; trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television; feeling bad about yourself or that you are a failure or have let yourself or your family down; moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed or the opposite – being so fidgety or restless; thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way (R. Spitzer, J. Williams,
K. Kroenke et al.)
Accepting that you have depression requires some time. Things may look differently once you come to terms with the fact that your condition is due to an illness and not a weakness of character. Unfortunately, there is a stigma about mental illness; however, part of the problem lies in not talking about your depression. It takes a great deal of courage to confide in someone you trust; however, this is an important part of accepting your condition and finding support for your depression. Generally, the sooner you get professional help for your depression, the better the outcome as you will feel better sooner.
Proper diagnosis and treatment are essential when dealing with depression. Another key part in understanding depression is education. This is what helps people who are depressed to live their lives while they are recovering. Education also helps family members to better understand and cope with their loved one’s illness. Information and education can come from several sources. There are many books available that provide excellent information about depression. There are mental health programs that run groups for depression and psychotherapy can help the individual and/or family understand what depression is and how best to cope with it. The key is for the individual to reach out and get help so they are not alone and isolated. Reaching out for help also aids the individual to feel normalized as they understand that what they have been feeling, thinking and experiencing is all part of the depression.