One of many things that unites us as humans is our shared experience of emotion. We’ve all experienced happiness, joy, disappointment. And it's safe to say that we all, on some level or another, have experienced our fair share of pain.
This pain could have resulted from a breakup, a loss of employment, betrayal, limited finances, death, or even trauma. Depending on the severity of the event, our pain can range from minimal sadness to severe distress.
The expression of pain and sadness is as diverse as the people experiencing it, so we all react and respond differently. Yeah, there is a reasonable level of expectation surrounding our responses to emotional distress, but in all fairness, everyone will feel differently. We all cope differently, too.
Personally, I find the best way to get over heartache is to bury myself under the covers with Erykah Badu's "Green Eyes" blasting on repeat (my neighbor hates me). And if it is bad enough, you will probably find me on my laptop Googling "How to start a new life with no money" while binge-watching The Office.
To some, that sounds far too somber and they would rather get drinks with their friends at their favorite restaurant. Meh. Personally, I am no good to anyone when I am going through it and it is better for everyone if I just retreat into my sage-scented apartment until I've gotten my shit together.
There is something cathartic about being present with and really sitting in my emotions and allowing myself to feel whatever arises. That is not to say that this is the right way, just my way. But still, if I am on my "shut-down" as my family calls it for more than two weeks, I can expect a series of calls and the unannounced pop-up visits will begin.
Sound relatable? Just me? Okay...moving on.
Despite how we feel and express our pain, we are all entitled to express it in whatever manner we deem most comfortable, so long as it does not bring harm to anyone else. Still, if certain symptoms are severe enough and persist long enough, we may need to take a closer look.
So, are you down in the dumps? Or are you DEPRESSED? I have come across many clients who thought they were depressed when they were not, and many others who didn't think they were depressed but in fact, were. Yes, sadness is a characteristic of depression but by no means are the two synonymous. If you need help making the distinction, here's a video that can help you with distinguishing sadness from depression.
Now, let us start by taking a closer look at some of the characteristics of clinical depression
Symptoms can vary but some include:
· crying spells
· change in sleep pattern (increase or decrease)
· change in appetite (increase or decrease)
· weight gain or loss
· low energy
· loss of interest in things you used to enjoy doing
· feeling "empty"
· feelings of worthlessness
· difficulty concentrating
· thoughts/attempts of suicide
· ongoing periods of low moods and sadness
· physical complaints not related to a medical condition (i.e., unexplained headaches)
Symptoms must be present for at least a 2-week period and diagnosed by a licensed professional.
More than 3 million cases of depression are reported annually. "An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode." (National Institute of Mental Illness)
Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the country. Unfortunately, many people suffer in silence by thinking that it's all in their head but in reality, depression is as real as any other illness and acknowledging it as such puts you one step closer to healing.
While coping and recovery looks different for everyone, many have found the following helpful:
Utilizing support (calling on people who make you feel safe and loved)
Getting an emotional support animal/pet therapy
If these symptoms resonate with you or you think a loved one may be suffering from depression, it is important to seek the help and expertise of a mental health professional licensed and trained to diagnose and treat your symptoms. You're not making it up and you deserve to heal.
Be well family,
Peace, Love and Juice