It’s the unthinking question millions of people ask each day to a friend, a significant other, a family member.
The answer may be surprising because it doesn’t make sense. When a person is suffering from depression, the answer is more often than not, “I don’t know,” or worse, “Nothing.”
John M. Grohol, Psy.D. is an expert in online psychology and behavior, researcher, author, and CEO & founder of the leading mental health and psychology network, Psych Central.com. Since receiving his doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University in 1995, Dr. Grohol has worked tirelessly as an online patient advocate and publisher of independent, objective mental health information designed to reduce the stigma associated with these concerns.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
Depression Doesn’t Need a Cause
Some people mistakenly believe that a person can only be justified in their depression if there’s a cause or reason for them to be depressed. If you’re unemployed, just suffered the loss of a relationship or loved one, or just found out you have a life-threatening disease, people react more kindly. They see one’s depression as justified and appropriate.
But for the vast majority of people with depression, there is no reason and there is no cause for their feelings. Depression is so often painful and difficult for people because others don’t understand this fact. For many, if there’s no impetus driving the depression, there’s no reason or need to feel depressed. For someone with depression, this feels devaluing – that they shouldn’t feel the way they feel.
Depression is Involuntary
But for most people who suffer from depression, it is not something that’s voluntary or something that one can just “snap out of” or “stop being depressed.” If it were a simple matter of “stopping” the depression, there’d be no need for therapists, antidepressants, or any other treatments. Depression, like any medical disease, requires professional care to be treated properly. It does not just “go away” on its own in most cases, no more than a broken arm will go away if you just want it to.
Depression is a serious concern for nearly 1 in 10 people at some point in their lives. Nobody asks or wants depression in their lives, yet it can’t just be denied or explained away with rational thought. Depression is a sense of emotional sadness and hopelessness that pervades an individual’s body. People with depression can’t just wake up one day and say, “No more depression for me!” On the contrary, many people with depression have trouble even taking one step out of bed.
Depression is Real but Treatable
While depression can’t be shooed away like a temporary bad mood, it can be effectively treated. Modern depression treatments include antidepressantmedications and short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy that helps a person learn new coping skills and better ways to address irrational depressivethoughts. Having people around someone who is depressed, people who are supportive and caring, can make a world of difference.
If you know someone or suspect someone you know who may have depression, you may not fully understand what they’re going through. That’s okay. They only need you to understand they’re dealing with a real, serious condition that affects everything they do every day. Treat them with care and respect, and be there for them when they need a helping hand. That can make a tremendous difference in their lives.