Many people beat themselves up because they "shouldn't" feel depressed. Often there is a precipitating event, such as a divorce or death, which results in situational depression that will typically be alleviated in about 6 months. The difference between a temporary sadness of this sort and Clinical Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder, is that while temporary sadness will improve over time (even if it does so slowly), clinical depression seems to get worse and worse no matter how much time has passed. Many individuals have been suffering from depression for years and don't understand why they just can't just "snap out of it". Clinical depression, however, is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. We have about as much control over it as someone with Type I Diabetes has over their insulin production. Many people who suffer from Clinical Depression are shown to have low levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, the neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for regulating stress and mood. Not only do people experience psychological symptoms as a result of their depression, but many have listed a variety of physical symptoms as well. These include headaches, back pain, muscle aches and joint pain, chest pain and digestive problems. People may experience extreme fatigue, sleep problems, change in appetite or weight, and dizziness or lightheadedness. Surely not every person will exhibit every symptom, but it is crucial that they be identified if and when they do appear. When a person is feeling this way, but does not recognize that the symptoms are associated with Major Depressive Disorder, they may begin to feel more hopeless/helpless, thinking that they will never get better. In reality, what they are experiencing is an expected response to a mental health disorder. It is important that we normalize this condition, while providing those who are struggling with tools to better manage their mood. While depression cannot be cured, it can be effectively treated.
Because people often feel they should be able to pull themselves out of their depression, many people resist taking medication. They really believe that they can modify their thinking and behaviors in order to manage their depression. For some, traditional "talk therapy" works, but for many it isn't enough to make a significant change in their mood. They need medication to correct the chemical imbalance in their brains. While many question the side-effects of medication, it is often helpful to have them list the "side effects" of their depression versus the potential side-effects of medication, and ask them which side-effects they willing to live with.
There are many physical aspects of Clinical Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder. These include a chemical imbalance in the brain that interferes with a person’s ability to control their mood. This can lead to feeling depressed “for no reason,” giving people the impression that they should be able to “snap out of it.” Symptoms of depression can extend beyond the basic mood disturbance that is most often associated with the disorder, causing unpleasant physical symptoms that may make an individual feel distressed or even hopeless. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to seek professional help. You are not doomed by a diagnosis of Clinical Depression; it can be treated. You can reclaim your life.