“That’s the thing about depression: a human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”
— Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation1
What Depression Really Is
According to Merriam-Webster, depression is defined as a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty with thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts or an attempt to commit suicide.2 Opinions and studies differ but it is generally found that this disorder occurs from a combination of brain chemical malfunctions, heredity, and lifestyle or life events. As the definition above shows, depression affects a person not only mentally, but manifests physically also. Besides the obvious “sad” feelings, some other not so obvious side effects include but are not limited to constipation or diarrhea, hair loss, a “fake” or “surreal” feeling as if you are watching your life happen on a movie screen and not experiencing it yourself, persistent foul breathe, headaches, extreme anxiety, and unexplainable aches and pains that do not go away.
Who Suffers From Depression
Depression affects about 14.8 million Americans in any given year.3 Women are more prone to depression than men because of the many hormone surges and changes such as puberty, menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, and birth, and the average age of onset in both genders is 32; however, depression can occur in any person regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, or family history. Social standing seems like it would have a large role in depressive tendencies but some of the world’s greatest leaders such as Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King all suffered from the disorder.
Why Depression Happens
There are many reasons as to why depression may occur. Biological factors like chemical imbalances in the brain and a family history of the disorder can cause a person to develop depression. Traumatic experiences including rape, mental or physical abuse, death, loss of home or possessions, financial turmoil, and new surroundings or lifestyle may contribute. Persons with low self-esteem tend to become depressed and even putting yourself in dark rooms, listening to and reading eerily themed material, becoming reclusive, and dwelling on negative thoughts will stir depression. And for some people, depression seems to erupt for no apparent or obvious reasons at all.
Depression may seem minimal to some, but the symptoms and effects are very impacting to the lives of those who have the inconvenience of dealing with the disorder. Education on the matter may be the best way to help the many who suffer to cope and heal.
1. Quotes About Depression, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/depression
2. Depression, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/depression
3. The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-numbers-count-mental-disorders-in-america/index.shtml