Depression awareness week.

Depression Awareness Week was held between the 18th and 24th of April this year and ultimately it is to raise awareness about depression, get people talking about the issue and try to break the stigma that surrounds mental health.

What is depression?

In all honesty I think depression is a thing that so many people don't understand even though it apparently affects 1 in 4 people.  The definition of depression is 'feelings of severe despondency and dejection.' but I really like the description that the Depression Alliance website gives: 

"There are times when we all feel sad, hopeless, or fed up; it's part of life.  Depression is different.  With depression these feelings don't just go away.  They can last for months, becoming so intense that carrying on with everyday life can become impossible."

I guess because it's not a physical problem people don't recognise it so often or don't believe it's really an issue.  But it is.  Depression is a real issue that is becoming more common and can effect anyone.  Actually someone you know could be suffering with it and you might not even know about it.  There's many different types of depression; post-natal, clinical, manic (which is bipolar) and so on.  There are also many causes for depression such as life events, loss, childhood experiences, anger, stress and even genetics.  

Despite the fact that it is not a physical ailment there are many different symptoms too which varies from person to person and is not just caused by the obvious symptom being the feeling of persistent sadness.   There are more such as tiredness, numbness, a desire to isolate yourself, feeling guilty for no reason and feeling hopeless - and at the extreme thoughts of suicide.  But there are some physical symptoms such as aches and pains and even self-harming.  If you suffer from any of these then I would seriously recommend talking to someone, your doctor, a close family member or friend, anyone.  It's a serious issue and at it's most extreme it can be very dangerous for the sufferer.  There's a whole wealth of information online about what depression is, why people suffer from it and what the symptoms are and I guess it's useful to check them out (some links are at the end of this post).

What is the issue?

In today's society when depression is becoming more relevant and affects so many people why is there a need to raise awareness?  Shouldn't there already be some?  Not only that why is there still a stigma surrounding the isssue?  Especially since it literally can effect anyone it shouldn't be something we don't talk about and hide from.  Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's not there.

What's worse is why are people ashamed to admit that they suffer from this mental health issue?
  • they're maybe afraid of judgment
  • they might view it as a weakness or be scared that they are sick because they are weak
  • they may be afraid of ignorant comments - it's just a rough patch you'll get over it, be more positive no wonder you feel down all the time, if you're sad do something about it etc etc.
It's sad that people have to suffer even more because of these reasons.  I mean I was on anti-depressants last year because of my personal situation I was struggling and couldn't cope which caused me some sort of anxiety.  To begin with I didn't want to even admit there was anything wrong with me but during that stage in my life I couldn't afford to be unwell physically or mentally and had to go and talk to the doctors.  Even when they prescribed me some anti-depressants I was scared to tell people so I only told a few close people.  I felt so weak and for someone who has always been so strong-minded it was a real blow; I was ashamed of myself.  

But it helped me through that difficult patch, I don't take them anymore and looking back on it I don't regret asking for help.  Not only that why should I feel ashamed?  It's not weak to need help, in fact I believe the bravest thing is to admit you're not coping and open up to someone and ask them for help.  

It just confuses me why there still is a stigma surrounding mental health and how there still is a need to raise awareness about the issue?  We need to start talking about it, stop judging and start listening to those who probably need help.  I mean who knows who is effected by this issue, it could be someone you know and love. 

Look after yourselves, and as always,

Love, Lauren x