Living with depression can be life-altering, you can go from a happy-go-lucky person who is always on the go to a person who rarely leaves their home or their bed. Coming to grips with admitting you are depressed is also a shock to the system. You do not want to face the struggles alone and telling someone can be a difficult decision to make.
It is also a very personal decision as to who you will share the information with. There are treatments for depression that didn’t exist in the past. Telling a trusted professional is an important step in healing and seeking help.
What is Depression
Life is difficult and everyone will experience feeling down or sad at some point in their life. Depression however is more than just feeling sad about a setback or life struggle. Depression changes the way your brain works and ultimately changes your entire life. It will interfere with daily activities like going to work, how you sleep, how much you eat, your grades if you are in school, and your ability to enjoy life. Getting out of bed can be an arduous task when you have depression. It is not your fault that you feel hopeless, the chemical makeup of your brain has actually changed because of the illness.
Common Signs of Depression
Depression looks different for everyone and it can vary depending on several factors. We have compiled some of the most common symptoms associated with depression. There is a caveat to these signs as they can be associated with normal lows and if they last longer or become stronger you may be dealing with severe depression. The most common signs of depression are:
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Appetite or weight changes
- Loss of energy
- Changes in sleep
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- Anger or irritability
- Reckless behavior
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Concentration problems
This is not an exhaustive list and some of these may be signs of other illnesses such as anxiety or bipolar disorder. Depression can have suicide risks attached which can be a major issue.
As we mentioned depression does not have an exact cause but there are some risk factors that may make you more susceptible to suffering from depression. Some of these include:
- Loneliness and isolation
- Relationship or marital problems
- A stressful life experience
- Chronic illness or pain
- Early childhood trauma or abuse
- Alcohol abuse
- Drug abuse
- Family history of depression or mental illness
Many of these are out of your control and you should not blame yourself. You have identified the problem and should seek help. Build your support system and talk to a doctor.
Who You Want to Tell:
You will first need to think about who you want to tell. You do not need to tell everyone you know and meet. This is your medical condition and you are not required to disclose it to anyone but talking about it helps. Finding a safe place like a depression program can be a great first step to opening up.
Choose Someone You Can Trust:
You will want to choose someone who you can trust and who will be able to listen to you. This person should also be nonjudgmental and be able to provide support. You may want to write down what you intend to say in order to organize your thoughts.
Rehearse Your Words:
You may also need to rehearse what you will say. You will not say it word for word but as long as you are able to communicate what is happening with you it is a start.
Decide a Time and Place for the Conversation:
Find a time and a place to have the conversation. Try to find a time and location that are not busy and where you won’t be interrupted. It should be casual so both parties are comfortable talking and there should not be a time constraint in case the conversation needs to be longer than expected.
Everyone has different ideas of what depression looks like and you will need to keep an open mind about any possible reactions. Some people will try to brush it off and say you have nothing to be depressed about or will try to offer advice. If you are able to try to explain what is happening and if it still seems like a dead-end, talk to someone else. The most important part about telling someone about your depression is to not stress out. You will need a support system but you cannot allow one failed attempt to deter you from reaching out.
Telling Your Partner
Your mental health is yours and although telling family and friends may be an easier process, telling your partner may be extremely frightening. Depression is a mental illness that affects every part of your life including romantic relationships. You may fear that they will leave you because of your illness or won’t want to support you. Having depression often means you will have decreased energy and a loss of pleasure in life. This is counterintuitive to a carefree, romantic relationship.
On the other hand, sharing this information with your partner can actually be incredibly healthy for the relationship. It shows your partner you trust them and that you are being open. Should the relationship get more serious this is something that will affect both of you in the long run. By them knowing your condition they will be better able to support you and help you through depressive episodes. Choosing when to tell your partner is up to you. Although depression is fairly common around the world, the stigma attached makes it difficult to talk about. Your depression should not define you and it is just an additional part of you, not the whole.
Telling Your Family
Family is the first support system you ever have in your life and telling them you have a medical condition is important. They will be there when friends and partners are not. Some family members may be more supportive than others. You may also find out that others in your family also have a mental illness themselves. On the other hand, not every family is supportive and you may run into some dead ends. No family is picture perfect and it is okay if they respond negatively to your medical condition. There are other forms of support you can seek outside of your including friends, romantic partners, and even support groups. Depression is not your fault, your brain is the cause and there is currently no exact cause found.
Telling your Friends
Friends come and go but many will stay with us for a lifetime. Friends can often take the place of family and provide support that you cannot find at home. Sometimes our friends are the first we call when something happens even before our family. A support network is crucial when suffering from a mental illness, depression included. Think of a few friends who you know will be understanding and willing to listen. They will be helpful in your treatment. You may be terrified of your illness and having a supportive friend group can help to quell some of those fears.
BasePoint Psychiatry & Wellness Depression Programs
You may try to tackle your depression on your own by implementing lifestyle changes and depending on your support group. There is also medication and talk therapy and Spravato and TMS treatment available for you on your journey to healing. Reach out to BasePoint Psychiatry & Wellness today by calling us to schedule an appointment. We do everything possible to help you feel comfortable while in our office for your appointments so you can be open and honest with your thoughts and feelings.