Recently, I’ve spent several long and sleepless nights deep in thought, trying to understand and in some way define depression. In the midst of my sleep deprived search, I made many discoveries; not only concerning depression, but also about myself. I’m neither a doctor or a psychologist, nor do I have any expertise in this area. What I do have is many years of field experience (and some hand to hand combat training ;-). I’ve experienced life and death, (not death personally of course, but nearly several times) love and loss, health and sickness, joy and happiness, as well as pain and suffering. In my short 34 years, I feel like in many ways I’ve already lived several lifetimes. Although I don’t have a fancy certificate hanging on my wall, what I can bring to the table is my past experiences and the life lessons they’ve taught me.
Webster’s definition of depression is, “A state of feeling sad : dejection (2) : a psycho neurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.”
Although I agree with Webster’s definition, I feel depression goes so much deeper than that. As I pondered back upon the many times I struggled with depression in my life, I realized they were all brought about by completely different circumstances. Looking back at how each situation arose, I found there were similarities, yet they were all totally diverse in other ways. Each time I had to find new ways to cope and deal with every bout of depression and its corresponding symptoms. I realized depression is different for most individuals; and usually manifests in different ways depending on the reason and situation for which it comes about. By taking a magnifying glass and looking into my past, as well as brainstorming with many of my friends; I’ve been able to identify various types of depression. I’ve identified five specific types (which I gave my own personal “labels”) and then gave a few examples of each below in this blog. Over the next couple of weeks I will individually blog about each one in detail, along with my own personal experiences.
“Traumatic Depression” tends to be the hardest to deal with initially. It strikes unexpectedly right after a specific and usually traumatic incidence occurs. Typically this type of depression is accompanied by a decrease in appetite, inability to sleep, but usually resolves once the incident is over and you have time to deal with it emotionally. For example: an accident or shocking event, any type of abuse, dealing with a terminal illness, divorce, a death...
“Deep Dark Depression” is another type of depression that also involves a negative occurrence, but is likely to be more long term. The symptoms tend to be all across the board, although the state of depression is usually more severe, due to the circumstance that you have to overcome. However, there is always the hope that things will get better once you learn to cope with your situation. Examples of this are: losing your job and struggling to find another one, financial losses/crisis or bankruptcy, unhappy or struggling marriages, difficulties parenting and/or problem children, being diagnosed and living with a chronic illness…
Then there is just the feeling of “General Depression”, where you can’t get out of bed and for the most part you don’t even know why. The rain makes you feel miserable, the clouds make you feel unhappy, even commercials make you want to cry. You find yourself wearing dark colors and either you can’t eat a thing or you crave everything in sight. Your social life becomes too much work and not worth the effort. Eventually you find yourself spending hours watching TV and movies, or curled up with a good book to avoid the outside world. No matter how much you sleep, you still always feel tired. It seems there is no end to your misery and no hope in sight because you don’t even know why you are depressed in the first place.
Next is the type of depression that is simply hereditary. You can be an incredibly smart, fun, ‘normal’, happy person; yet depression can still strike at anytime if it’s “Genetic Depression”. There is nothing wrong or to be embarrassed about (nor with any of these forms of depression), it just means you may just need a little help to overcome it. Almost every family has some form of depression in their genes, even in my ‘perfect’ family- Lol. Many of us are familiar with the term bi-polar disorder, but most of us probably don’t know too much about it. People suffering from it are oftentimes (and unfairly) are labeled crazy, when they are only misunderstood. With some medication and often times counseling, their lives can totally be transformed. No one should ever have to live in misery for no reason.
Lastly, or the last one we came up with, is “Hormonal Depression” or side effects caused from a medication you may be taking. For instance: postpartum depression, thyroid disease, menopause (or mental-pause as we like to call it in my house) or the one I’m the most familiar with on a regular basis- post steroid withdrawal depression. Actually, other than ‘sympathetic’ menopause, I’m all too familiar with all of the above. These are simply an imbalance of hormones in your body, or an imbalance due to a medication you’re taking that’s not reacting well to your body, which can cause all kinds of havoc.
These are the five types of depression I came up with, and yet I know there are so many more. As I mentioned before, I’m not a doctor nor a counselor; I’m merely taking this opportunity to blog specifically on each one of the different types of depression that have affected my life. I’d love all the feedback, comments and input all of you have to offer about any of other types of depression that have affected your life. I know it’s not easy to open up publically, so I want to thank all of you who are willing to share your experiences. I would love to have guest Bloggers as well if any of you are interested.
The word ‘Depression’ has such a negative stigma attached to it, and for years it wasn’t even talked about for fear of being labeled unstable... or much worse. No one wanted to go on anti-depressant medications, or even admit to being on them, for fear of what people would think. Lucky for us, society has become much more tolerant, better educated, and social media has recently opened the door for us to be able to reach out and help one another. This is my goal and I hope many of you will join me in my quest.
My positive thought for the day: Today 1/18/12) I am so very, very thankful for the six inches of snow we received so that it finally felt like winter (besides just the holidays and frigid cold). The white winter wonderland was so breathtaking I found curled up in my recliner, wrapped up in my fleece blanket, drinking hot chocolate, looking out the window, lost in happy thoughts for what felt like eternity. I’m also so very thankful my kids are young enough to still love playing for hours in the snow, making snow forts and building snowmen. Watching them play blissfully made me happier then I’ve been in a long time. Yet, I’m also so very thankful my kids are old enough to shovel the driveway and the sidewalk, so I didn’t have to do it myself J. My amazing son also shoveled the sidewalk of four of neighbors as a surprise and “just to help them out”. I am a proud mother! Today was a good day. No, today was a GREAT day!!!