The person with the disease suffers. The partner suffers. The family suffers.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression. It is estimated that 16 million adults had a least one major episode in 2012 in the US. 6.9% of the population. Despite these numbers, depression is still a taboo disease. It is one that makes people feel helpless. That feeling is exacerbated by the attitude of our society.
The person who is depressed is caught in a cycle. Without medical help it will just get worse with each passing year. Depression cannot cure itself and does not go away on its own. The person affected experiences many different symptoms and will lash out at those closest when the disease becomes too much. This is and will get worse as the depression goes untreated.
Just to get an idea of what a person with depression experiences:
- Extreme irritability over minor things
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Anger management issues
- Loess of interest in favorite activities
- Fixation on the past or on things that have gone wrong
- Thoughts of suicide or death
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Debilitating fatigue
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Unexplained aches and pains
When someone is experiencing these symptoms over a long period of time without treatment it is easy for that person to start to believe that something is wrong with them or that the people around them don’t care. That there is no help, no support. That is not true. Most times the support is seen as non-support to the person suffering because the chemical imbalance they suffer is also affecting their thought process.
It is easy for the person with depression to feel like everyone around them has given up on them. They don’t see the struggles of those around them because the depression has blinded them to the suffering of anyone but themselves. Once the mental roller coaster has started it is hard to stop the cart and to get off the track.
It is important to know that there is no single cause for depression. Only one third of those suffering from anxiety or depression ever seek treatment. That is something that will cripple you for life. But there is help and it is attainable. It won’t be perfect and might not begin right away but the first step is getting the help. Reach out until your arms are sore. It won’t be cured overnight or ever. It can take months, even years but balance and control do exist.
It’s also not just taking a pill. You also need to talk to someone. A licensed professional that is neutral and can help you and your family understand your specific depression and how to cope. Having depression does not make you weak. It does not make you less than, despite what your brain is telling you. Changes in diet can also help, as well as exercise. The complexity of our minds and bodies requires us to make full body changes when affected with illness, mental and physical.
Your relationships will suffer. You will hurt those you love without remorse because you are hurting and you have most likely blamed those around you for that pain. The relationships can be rebuilt but again not overnight. Love is what has kept those still with you around and love will be the reason they stay, no matter the pain and hurt. If you have children they may take responsibility for the depression and are actually more likely to develop a mental illness themselves as a result.
Depression affects more than just the person with the disease.
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