f you ask a group of people who’ve suffered from clinical depression to define the illness, you’ll hear a variety of answers. Depression is a very personal experience that millions of people all over the world experience. Many may be incorrectly diagnosed and medicated for what biopsychiatry calls “the brain disease of depression”. For many people the reasons they are depressed are not about having any “brain disease” or even mental illness. Situational-depression in the context of a person’s life can cause depression which within those circumstances can be actually a “normal” or reasonable reaction to what you are experiencing. Context is everything and must not be lost to the lumping of all depression as being the same or having the same causes or outcomes.

Different people manifest different symptoms, but one thing is certain: depression is difficult. If depression is chronic or severe it can be an illness that can destroy your life if left unresolved.

Many people with depression describe it as a sense of despair that engulfs everything they do and everything they feel. This is often the result of the way that they are thinking negatively and often without realizing it.

If you think being depressed is akin to feeling sad because your favorite team just lost the championship game, you really have no idea what suffering from a true depression is like. Depression is much deeper and more invasive than sadness or frustration.

Depression takes everything away from you; it saps your energy, focus, concentration, and especially your joy. You just don’t care about anything; nothing matters and even the people you love become unimportant. This is often the case because those who are depressed feel bad about themselves and develop low self-worth, low self-esteem and feel disconnected and often feel alone or are alone.

If you’re depressed for a long period of time, you become accustomed to the feeling and any other emotion becomes unfamiliar and even frightening.

Physical Concerns of Depression

Depression doesn’t only take its toll on your emotions and mental state; it can cause serious physical problems as well. Depression may cause you to either lose your appetite or eat incessantly. It also zaps your energy and motivation.

When you’re depressed, you tend to become inactive. This alone can cause a number of problems, but when added to some of the other physical side effects of depression, it’s easy to see why depression should not be ignored.

In addition, depression can lead to:

1. Lack of sleep. Depression can cause insomnia, which strips the body of the necessary sleep to function properly.

2. Poor nutrition. When depressed, many people fail to take in proper nutrients. It takes too much effort to plan and prepare a meal. This can cause several health problems.

3. Aches and pains. If anyone tells you that your mental state has no effect on your physical state, they’re wrong. When you’re depressed, you may well not take good care of yourself which can also impact your physical health.

4. Hygiene issues. Someone suffering from depression doesn’t have the energy or the motivation to be concerned with self-care.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

These are some specific things those with depression experience:

• Constant and severe sadness about everything
• Hopelessness
• Insomnia or trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much
• Irritability
• Trouble concentrating
• Loss of interest in things that once interested them
• Feeling worthless, useless and strangely guilty for no reason at all
• Serious change in weight, one way or the other
• Lack of energy and fatigue

One thing about depression is certain: it is a serious condition and should be taken seriously. But it is also important to take a look – an inventory really – of your recent experiences or past experiences that may be being triggered in the here-and-now that can lead to a situational depression, which can still be distressing, but which has meaningful reasons for its being. This means if you seek more awareness of the over-all context of your depression you might come to better understand how you can address it and begin to create positive healthier change in your life.

As depression progresses, it feeds on itself like a snowball rolling downhill. The longer someone is depressed, the worse the depression gets until they see no way out of it at all. They become resigned to being miserable all the time.

Depression can be caused by a certain event, the change of seasons, a loss of someone close, or unresolved issues from childhood. There are many things that you can do to get help. Ways that do not have to involve medication for most people.

If you know someone who is depressed, the best thing you can do is be his or her friend. Talk to them and help them through this period. Support them. Encourage them to get help as well.

If you think you may be depressed, seek out a Life and Mental Health Coach like myself, and/or talk to your doctor or therapist. Don’t hold it in and be silent. Talk about it. Depression can often be a natural consequence of negative thought patterns combined with unresolved issues and feeling stuck, not knowing how to create the change you need to feel better. With help and support, you can conquer your depression, move past it, and get back to feeling connected in your life again.

© A.J. Mahari, March 2011 – All rights reserved.

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What Is Depression?