What can I do to feel joy; a common question asked by victims of depression. It is unfortunate that though they ask this question, there are still a large portion of them that don’t aim to get help. Looking at the issue of depression, most people are educated about the severity of it but without exposure to an actual experience with depression, they fail to truly understand how it works and the consequences of being hesitant to act for others or even themselves.
The definition of depression is a mental disorder which negatively impacts your feelings, thoughts and actions. The World Health Organization (WHO) outlined a few key facts, a major one being that over 300 million people from all ages worldwide, suffer from depression.[i] These people have emotional struggles that can lead them to committing suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) wrote that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, which totals up to 44,945 every year.[ii] This is troublesome and when looking at countries that suffer the most from this mental disorder published by WHO, America places 3rd close behind India and China.[iii] Canada statistics show that 11.5 in 100,000 people commit suicide and that males were 3 times more likely to commit suicide.[iv] The AFSP continues to state that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from depression yet 41 percent of them don’t go to receive medical care, and like Canada, men are 3.57 times more likely to commit suicide than women.
A clear-cut answer as to understand what causes depression, will allow you to combat depression even if it doesn’t directly affect you. There is no exact physical link to the brain that shows any abnormalities for depression, but neurologists say that chemicals play a part of causing this emotion. Researchers look at ways that nerves affect the way the part of the brain that affects mood, specifically nerve cell connections, nerve cell growth, and the nerve circuits, but research in this field is lacking.[v] Furthermore, other factors that affect depression are genetics, personality and environmental factors. Depression can be found when stress is present, where people cannot find a balance and shut themselves down. There is depression and grief and differentiating between grief/sadness and grief is important. Grief and sadness are healthy, normal emotions that are needed to move on and feel joy.[vi] Depression can overlap into these, and many symptoms are similar in depression and grief. These symptoms include:
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite
- Sleeping issues
- Increased fatigue
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Lowered self-esteem
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depression is treatable, but the issue isn’t our capability to treat it but the willingness of the individual to share they’re feelings. Seeing first hand, people feel that they’ll be looked down on, judged for suffering from depression. It’s important to be present for these people or to surround yourself with caring people. The stigma on depression is no longer present, awareness is all around, and treatments are retrofitted for every individual. Sometimes a constant remainder of being aware of what causes depression is a solution to drive people to look for ways to help yourself or others.\
[ii] “Suicide Statistics.” AFSP, https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/
[iii] McPhillips, Deidre. “U.S. Among Most Depressed Countries in the World.” US News, 14 Sept. 2016, 10:05 am, www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2016-09-14/the-10-most-depressed-countries.
[iv] “Health at a Glance.” Suicide Rates: An Overview, 16 June 2017, www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-624-x/2012001/article/11696-eng.htm.
[v] Publishing, Harvard Health. “What Causes Depression?” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression.
[vi] “What Is Depression?”, American Psychiatric Association, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression.