There is a highly treatable, common illness that is too often ignored by the most capable among us.
Symptoms may include sadness, numbness, irritability, fatigue, low energy, dis-interest or difficulty engaging in activities or with other people, feeling like a failure, lack of hope, skepticism, difficulty finding self-worth, trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much, no appetite, or eating too much, thoughts about death, dying, perhaps even about killing yourself.
This illness is depression and it is no joke. Yes, it is a real thing. And it is NOT you.
Depression can be sneaky. It creeps in slowly. The symptoms can start at low levels. It’s lurking just below the surface for awhile until it becomes your new norm. At first it seems relatively manageable.
Depression may be related to difficult life events that would carry an expectable amount of distress and challenges with coping, so you think that’s just it – it’s just temporary. It can begin to seem like this is just how you are, and it can be hard to sift out the depressed thinking patterns from your regular self.
BUT if it is lasting (two weeks or more) and it is not getting better (or getting worse) and it causes you difficulty at work, in relationships, or in managing your usual day to day life, it’s a problem. OR if you are skilled at putting on a “good face” and are managing all this but feeling distant and distressed and quietly suffering inside, it is time to get some help.
The vast majority of the time, depression is very treatable, and it is not an uncommon illness.
But for many, especially those who function well, who carry responsibility with poise, who are conscientious workers, friends, and family members, who are perhaps used to listening to others’ problems rather than sharing their deepest selves, it can take an act of great bravery to see through depression’s deception.
It can be challenging to recognize and accept that depression is what’s going on, and that you need some help to give it the boot.
Don’t let depression’s hold on your thinking patterns convince you that it is better to deny your true feelings or your true experience. Take the first step back to yourself and ask for help – from a therapist, from your doctor, from whoever you feel most comfortable talking to at this vulnerable time.
Leah Ottow, LCSW is a therapist and clinical supervisor at New Approaches, a private psychotherapy practice providing expert guidance during life transitions and challenges. Leah’s areas of specialty include anxiety, relationships, perfectionism, identity, depression, mindfulness, stress management, loneliness, and pregnancy/post-partum.
She can be reached [email protected] or 207-553-2260 ext. 2.
Photo by r2hox used under Creative Commons license (image was slightly cropped)