How Many of you have Ever Felt Lonely, Depressed, or Sad
Without raising your hands, how many of you have ever felt lonely, depressed, or sad and were too ashamed to tell anyone? Well, this is how my brother has been feeling for the past four years. My brother, who is a junior in college, was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder when he was 17 years old. So, I wanted to learn more about his disorder and help others understand it better. This is why I chose to talk about Major Depressive Disorder today. You may be thinking, why is this important for me to know about? Well, much like myself many of you probably know someone or are someone who has been affected by a mental disorder, whether it be depression or another type. In order to inform you more about Major Depressive Disorder, I will be discussing the symptoms, long term effects if not treated, and how friends/family can help.
According to WebMD.com symptoms can include “fatigue or loss of energy, feeling of worthlessness or guilt, impaired concentration, insomnia or hypersomnia, diminished interests or pleasure in almost all activities, restlessness, recurring thoughts of death or suicide, and significant weight loss or gain.”
In order to compare the symptoms found on the internet to the symptoms experienced by someone who actually has them, I asked my brother what his symptoms were. He told me he had “loss of energy, no motivation, self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem, and social anxiety.”
He also informed me that not all of the symptoms develop at the same time and some can take years to develop. It took him a year and a half to seek help because he had only been experiencing loss of energy and no motivation. It wasn’t until he started to have suicidal thoughts that he decided he needed to get help. This is very common for people with this disorder, many will not seek help for a couple of years because they do not realize anything is wrong with them, until they develop these types of thoughts.
Since you are now aware of the symptoms, here are some long-term effects that can occur if not treated. The first long term effect can be found on livestrong.com and the last two effects can be found on Ulife.org.
The first long term effect that can develop is chronic mental illness. Depression can be caused by various things such as, the loss of a loved one/close friend, losing a job, break ups, etc. These types of events can lead to mild depression, which can be treated through medication and therapy session within the first 6 months. However, if a person does not seek help within this time frame, more severe methods may be needed. In the case that a person still decides not to seek treatment then the depression can become chronic and other disorders may develop, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Another long-term effect is substance abuse. A lot of people feel as though depression does not needed to be treated by a doctor because to many it is seen as a personal weakness, not a real medical disorder. These people decide to ease the pain by self-medicating themselves. Some may even turn to alcohol to get rid of the pain; however, drugs and alcohol do not get rid of the symptoms, they in fact only worsen them and can lead to drug and alcohol abuse. Mixing drugs and alcohol can cause an increased risk of suicide or even further a person’s state of depression.
The last long-term effect is suicide. Depression can cause people to contemplate and even attempt suicide if their conditions worsen. As depression becomes more chronic a person may assume that suicide is the only way to relieve the pain. They do not think therapy can help them through the pain and they believe the thoughts and feelings they have will never go away.
Mentalhealth.org recommends that in order for friends and families to help those affected they should “listen to them talk about their experiences, suggest they see a doctor or health professional, help them find information about depression, encourage them to become involved in social activities, encourage them to exercise and eat well, and maintain contact with them.”
My brother found it very helpful to go to the counseling center at his school and most major school have these counseling centers, including FSU. He also said “the biggest thing friends and family can do is be understanding. Sometimes people with Major Depressive Disorder will not want to do anything. You can try to get them to do stuff with you, but do not yell at or make them feel bad for not wanting to do it. Also, they have trouble with jokes at their own expense because of their thoughts. Essentially, you should treat them normally, but understand that they may get tired or irritable.”
I hope you are more informed about and better understand Major Depressive Disorder. We have discussed the symptoms, long-term effects if not treated, and how friends/family can help. According to a study done by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, depression is the “second most presenting concern in college, with 36.4% of students having it”. So, those affected by depression are all around us even if we don’t realize it.