How to define the confusing Upside-Down Mentality of Depression
May is National Mental health Month. It is a month set aside to ‘raise awareness about the importance of mental health and to stop the stigma associated with mental health disorders.’ (Source)
A lot of my focus around here is on books, kids, God, and parenting, but since depression and anxiety have shaped my life a lot in the last ten years. I wanted to take a moment and talk about depression, as a parent and how it has become a growing problem for kids and young adults as well.
Last year I told you a little bit about my journey with depression and anxiety (My Rollercoaster Test).
Today I wanted to talk about what depression is and is not.
First and fore most I am not a medical professional, if you feel you are depressed/anxious/ or have thoughts of doing harm to yourself. Seek out medical help as soon as possible.
What is depression?
Depression is a “mood disorder may descend seemingly out of the blue, or it may come on the heels of a defeat or personal loss, producing persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, pessimism, or guilt. Depression also interferes with concentration, motivation, and other aspects of everyday functioning.” (Source)
But how do you tell the difference between feeling down and depression.
It was told to me once that it is natural for us to experience highs and lows in our days. Life is its own rollercoaster ride, and it’s natural to feel down when circumstance turn that direction. But when you slide into a low and nothing you do or experience in it of yourself, helps you return to ‘normal’ thinking or emotions that is a concern.
Our mind and bodies are meant to feel and experience the world around us, but for me my thoughts began to define how I was feeling and what I was doing so that is when things got out of whack.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
Everybody gets depressed sometimes, typically in response to events or experiences in which goals go unmet and expectations are dashed, but such reactions tend to be short-lived. Depression is regarded as a disorder when low mood and other symptoms persist for more than two weeks. Mood dysregulation revealed by unrelenting sadness may be the sign most associated with depression, but the disorder can be reflected in impaired functioning in almost every system of the body, from sexual desire to pain perception.
As parents, daily life is draining and unpredictable at times. We sacrifice a lot of things to care for these little pieces of our hearts, and they don’t always handle our hearts with care. Being aware of your thoughts and moods it highly important. Mental health is important for our physical health and vice versa. Our bodies and mind act as one unit and therefore it is important to care for both our emotional and mental states as well as our physical health. (Source)
Which also plays a part in how we care for and support our kids. Be self-reflective. Take the time to nowhere your limits are and know how to feed your soul as well as when to seek more professional help.
It was a big hurdle to seek the help of a psychiatrist, but when I did, I was able to get answers, process my emotions, and start the healing process. Life is hard enough at times, we don’t need to be ashamed of what we are feeling and our need for help.
What Depression is Not
Depression is not weakness- it isn’t some inherent flaw or sign that someone is weak-minded, faint-hearted, too sensitive or a powerless wimp. Depression is an illness. Plus, people who have depression are actually quite resilient, said Mullen, PsyD, LMFT, the founder of the Coaching Through Chaos private practice and podcast in San Diego.
“Especially when people have recurrent depressive episodes — for them to continue to work towards improving their mood or understanding their depression is actually a sign of strength.”
Depression is not a choice- We know that we have the power to change our perspective and outlook. We can challenge and restructure our thoughts. We can make meaningful changes. But individuals with depression can’t think away their depression any more than someone with diabetes can lower their blood sugar with their mind. Both are illnesses that require intervention. (Source)
Depression is not sadness- Depression and sadness are not the same thing. As Barbara Kingsolver wrote in her novel The Bean Trees, “Sadness is more or less like a head cold — with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.” Sadness is almost circumstantial, while depression is not dependent on circumstances.
There was one thanksgiving that I hosted at my house, kids were getting along, the food was great, and the company was enjoyable, but I was down and disconnected. This was one of my biggest clues to make a change in my mental health. My circumstances said everything was great, but my heart and mind just wasn’t feeling the same.
How is your heart and mind?
Take the time to process the direction of your thoughts. If your heart and mind are not healthy it will affect your parenting and how you love your spouse and kids. We all need to access this whether depression has taken root in your mind and be brave enough to seek help. You are not alone.