Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Depression is such a scary word, right?
Well, part of what I am doing with Notes by Khia is attempting to make words like that less scary.
The only way to make those words less scary is to talk about them. Talking about things normalizes them. For instance, the sex lives of women and other sexual preferences. This does not mean that everyone agrees, just that people are getting more used to the conversation.
Now, let me preface everything that is getting ready to follow: while I am a therapist and licensed to diagnose the purpose of this post is not to diagnose anyone. The purpose of this post is simply to clarify on what some of the symptoms are in hopes that if you do recognize some of these symptoms or in someone else you can seek help for yourself or share it and they will get help.
The first thing that should be understood about depression is that it is more than sadness. Depression can be developed following a particular situation but is not situational; it is marked by a prolonged period of time. So, it is normal to be sad about something, however, being "sad" for a long period of time in edition to some of the other symptoms is when it becomes depression.
The only way to make depression less scary is to talk about it
One of the most major symptoms that must be met in order for it to be diagnosed as depression is: impairment of functioning. The individual may be missing work, neglecting responsibilities, etc. as a result of the "sad" mood. ( I put sad in quotes because while it is a higher level of sadness, sad is a word that most people can connect to and understand what that feels like). Now, there are some people that do push through their symptoms and still go to work and do things but it is impaired in the sense of the way that you are able to work. For instance, you may make it to work but how productive are you being on the job? Are you experiencing other impairments while you are there?
Another major symptom is lack of motivation or loss of pleasure. When things that typically bring you pleasure and make you happy suddenly don't make you happy or you have no desire to do them that is pretty abnormal.
Now the thing to remember it is usually the combination of symptoms that makes a diagnosis, not necessarily one symptom out of the 50.
Not every person with depression will commit or even attempt suicide, however, it happens enough for it to be a concern with every client that struggles with depression. You may have heard of people cutting their wrist or another body part or even experienced it yourself. At times, this is a suicide attempt, other times it is an effort to release emotional pain by inflicting and enduring physical pain. This solution is very temporary and can even become addictive.
Does not look the same for everyone
Depression does not just look like a sad, pouty face for everyone. For some people depression may come out as irritability and mood swings. For many it is often not recognized on the outside which is why when individuals do commit suicide it seems to come out of nowhere.
Okay, so now that you hopefully understand more about depression I want to share that there is hope!
So, what can you do if you are feeling these symptoms?
Therapy gives you the space to process what is going on and relieve some of the pressure that depression causes. During therapy a safety plan can also be developed so that you have a plan for when your symptoms begin, when they become unbearable, and when they lead to suicidal thoughts.
2. Accountability Partner
Find a reliable person that you can call when things are too tough to deal with on your own. Define what you need from your support group when you are doing well and not when things are bad. It is much harder to identify what you need when you are not doing well. You can develop code words so that they know what it is exactly that they need to do to support you.
3. Coping Skills
Some of the coping skills that I have already discussed on Instagram are journaling and meditation. Others are exercise, listening to music, and other things that bring you joy. The key is to keep moving. The longer you sit and dwell the worse things get.
A lot of people, particularly in the Black community, do not want to hear this one. But, medication can really be helpful in relieving symptoms. It is not always necessary and it does not have to be the first step. It also does not have to be permanent if you do choose to start on meds.
I hope that this information was helpful to you. Of course, if you have questions, if you would like me to come speak to your class, congregation, team, or any other group about mental health please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form on the contact page of notesbykhia.com
That's right...we are launching a full LIVE course on Defeating Depression!! Click here for more information.