We all rush to the doctor when we come down with a physical ailment. For some reason though we make excuses or ignore signs that point to something being off-kilter mentally.
The stigma attached to “mental illness,” results in unneeded suffering. We can admit when we have a physical illness but share the fact we are suffering from depression? No way!
Studies show that people are more prone to experience depression during and after divorce. Men, in particular. If your divorce has left you feeling any of the symptoms below, it's in your own best interest to seek professional help.
Below are a few facts about depression:
Depression is a serious medical illness; it’s not something that you make up in your head. It’s more than just feeling “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. The symptoms of depression are much more severe and debilitating.
Depression is characterized by feeling “down” and “low” and “hopeless” for weeks at a time. Many factors can contribute to the onset of depression, including the presence of other physical disorders, stress, poor nutrition, physical illness, personal loss and divorce.
Depression isn’t always easy to detect, and people with depressive conditions do not all experience the same symptoms. It may be expressed through lack of appetite or overeating; insomnia or an unnatural desire to sleep; the abuse of drugs and alcohol; sexual promiscuity; or hostile, aggressive, or risk-taking behavior.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression:
• Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings. • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism. • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness. • Irritability, restlessness. • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex. • Fatigue and decreased energy. • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions. • Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping. • Overeating, or appetite loss. • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts. • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
If you are in thinking about a divorce or have gone through a divorce you’ve suffered a personal loss. If that loss is causing persistent sadness or anxiety, if you are feeling hopelessness, fatigue or physical symptoms that are uncommon there is a possibility that you are suffering from depression.
Denying what may be going on or not seeking help due to shame keeps you stuck. Changing the way you view depression, letting go of denial and shame can mean changing your life.
I encourage anyone struggling with the symptoms above to talk to their doctor. It is about quality of life and we all deserve a good quality of life. And, seeking better health both physically and mentally is nothing to be ashamed of.
When I was 24 I began to have panic attacks. I was diagnosed with depression and started seeing a therapist and taking medication. Within a few months, I was no longer having panic attacks and the depression had lifted. I had whipped the ass out of the mental illness that was keeping me from living a full, rich life.
What I found hardest to recover from was the shame I felt over being diagnosed with depression. My family reacted to my diagnosis as if my character was somehow flawed. Their reaction caused me more pain than the depression I had suffered.
I felt less worthy in their eyes. As rational as I am I bought into their idea that mental illness was an indication that I had less value as a person. It took me a few months to work through and cure my depression. It took me far longer to overcome the shame I felt due to other’s opinions of my diagnosis.
I’m always surprised by the negative reactions when I tell a client I feel they need to talk to their doctor about the possibility of depression. Or they need to seek therapy with a professional who can help them work through their issues.
It has been 30 years since my diagnosis. There is more awareness about mental illness but, the stigma remains. People’s minds have not changed but, if you are suffering and feel you need help, it is only one mind that needs to change. Make that mind, your mind.
When it comes to depression ignorance is not bliss. Hell, there is no bliss at all. I urge you to seek help if you are suffering any of the symptoms above. There is no shame in being pro-active and doing whatever needs to be done so you can live life to the fullest.