Depression, A Silent Killer
Shirley J. Davis
For many who read this blog, speaking about depression may seem redundant. However, an enemy that isn’t acknowledged becomes a silent killer. So, for both those who understand too well what depression is and how it affects our lives and those who don’t know I am writing this post.
Every human on planet earth experiences depression. There are no exceptions. When we lose jobs, loved ones, or face a significant negative life change, it is not at all uncommon for human beings to feel out of control and incredibly saddened. These feelings are transient, meaning that over time they will ease and then disappear without any medical intervention.
However, for three million people in the United States per year, depression becomes more than just being sad. It blooms into a full-blown medical crisis that can last for weeks, months, and even years. For the medical community, this condition earned the name, clinical depression.
The Symptoms of Clinical Depression
Clinical depression has many symptoms besides the sadness that may include any or all of the following:
Lost interest in things that used to give you much pleasure such as a hobby or job.
- Changes in sleep patterns, including insomnia and sleeping too much.
- Changes in appetite, over or under eating.
- Lowered energy level to where you do not feel like moving around or interacting with anyone.
- Lowered ability to concentrate
- Slower than normal movements and speech patterns
- Changes in behavior, such as isolating oneself
The list is not complete as there are multiple facets to each and other symptoms that are more subtle, or more clinically significant.
There are many possible causes for clinical depression. There are both biological (genetic) and environmental factors that are believed to cause brain changes that make people prone to clinical depression. One of the best-known causes is brain trauma occurring either in childhood or adulthood.
Why Silent Killer?
I call clinical depression a silent killer for two reasons.
One, clinical depression is often suffered in silence. There is a massive amount of stigma attached to being depressed. Society seems to go out of its way to denigrate those who are suffering from what they consider a “laziness” or “character flaw.” People who show signs of being depressed are told they need to “grow up” or “get over it.” They seem unable to see that the person living with clinical depression is in the grips of brain dysfunction and cannot do as told.
Two, because of the stigma many choose to suffer alone and in silence. This stigmatization is especially real for men whom society expects to “buck up” and “be a man” even when faced with a severe medical disorder such as clinical depression.
There should be no need to hide the fact that one is living with the monster of depression, yet people are forced underground every day to hide their condition from judgmental family, friends, and co-workers.
The pain of depression is palpable. It is like a horrible ache that nothing seems to ease. The future becomes an enemy, and those living with depression lose hope. They begin to feel hopelessness and helplessness so profoundly that sometimes they give up.
The Suffering is Unnecessary
Robin Williams became part of the sad statistics of mortality and depression. He lived in a world where he brought laughter to millions with his quick wit and wonderful sense of humor. On the inside, Mr. Williams suffered quietly. Smiling on the outside, he was living in a personal hell. He must have been in horrendous pain, but no one noticed until, on August 11, 2014, he took his own life.
The suffering caused by clinical depression is unnecessary. Most people who suffer from depression can find help with medications and other forms of treatment.
There is Hope
Research is ongoing to find solutions to ending this silent killer.
If you find you or someone you love is exhibiting the symptoms of clinical depression, please, seek help. There is no need to live trapped alone in isolation and despair.
Don’t listen to the voices of those who would make you feel bad about yourself. Most of the time those people are responding from fear of something they do not understand.
If you had cancer, diabetes, or any other “medically acceptable disorder” would you feel the same? Would you not wish to take medication and see a specialist if you had heart disease?
Think About It.
You Are Important
You are a worthwhile human being and essential to our survival as a species. I don’t care what you do or don’t do for a living; we need your voice.
We’ve lost too many good people to clinical depression, please don’t become just another statistic.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King, Jr.