Depression. Sometimes we feel sad. Other times we feel more than just sad. Depression can attack us dressed up as many different monsters. Sometimes depression looks like sadness, other times it looks like anger. Sometimes it feels dark and hollow. Other times it is heavy and exhausting. Sometimes it gets us to the point of where there is, simply, no hope. There is no one word to describe it because it is such a multifaceted disorder.
One thing it is not. Something to be ashamed of.
According to American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) 2012, major depressive or dysthymic disorders are classified as mood disorders with “…prolonged and variable periods of sadness…” These symptoms can disappear and reappear. Symptoms of major depressive or dysthymic disorder can interrupt your “…thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, resulting in difficulties with occupational performance and overall well-being.”
In a separate article, depression is described even more detailed in nature as it is broken down into age groups. Depression may look different depending on what stage in life you are in.
According to AOTA, author Ashley Opp (n.d.) reported that, “children with depression tend to be quick to anger and focused on their inability to do things.” They may cling to parents and refuse to go to school. Opp (n.d) stated that “adolescents with depression typically are socially withdrawn, very irritable or angry, and at times express suicidal thoughts to friends or family.” Opp (n.d) further reports that “adults have more varied symptoms of depression…they stop participating in their leisure, family, and home maintenance roles. This lack of energy can also affect their work if they are working at all.” Furthermore, adults may have difficulty with simple daily tasks such as getting out of bed, bathing, dressing, caring properly for their children, working or socializing with family or friends. Adults may find themselves forgetting important dates or appointments and struggle with financial responsibilities. When it comes to the elderly, depression may come in the form of physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, etc.
Since living in quarantine for years, I mean, months, (ha-ha) we may find ourselves feeling one of, if not many of these emotions. And for some of us, these are brand new, confusing emotions that we may have never felt before. You may have seen these symptoms in others as well. Maybe our school-aged child, who is normally a “good kid” is acting out or being sassy and rolling their eyes a little more than normal. Maybe our spouse is a little more quiet than normal and is acting a little “off.” Maybe our elderly mother is suddenly getting chronic migraines.
This is unfamiliar territory for a lot of us. Luckily, social media and media in general has worked hard over the past few years riding the stigma of mental health. Which I applaud. The thought of going to counseling and taking prescribed medication is no longer frowned upon or embarrassing. With that being said, please hear me clearly. I understand there are, (unfortunately) still stigmas floating around, but my intention is to promote the healthy understanding that if you do feel any of these symptoms, you are not alone and should not feel ashamed of asking for help.
Help. Where do you go? Who do you speak too?
One of my favorite sayings is “that is way above my pay grade.” So, unless you have an appropriate degree, do not try to be counselor or doctor. Especially to a family member or friend. Seek professional help.
As a licensed Occupational Therapist, I would recommend starting with your primary care physician. He or she can do a general depression screen. They can refer you the appropriate professionals and prescribe medications as they feel appropriate. You can also seek help/guidance from your Occupational Therapist and they can also complete a depression screen/evaluation and address your needs in the appropriate setting or refer you to an appropriate setting.
You are not alone in this, so do not deal with it alone. Whether it is you, a family member, or friend. I urge you, seek help. Hang in there, this too shall pass.
- AOTA (2012). Occupational Therapy’s Role in Mental Health Promotion, Prevention, & Intervention With Children & Youth Depression Retrieved from https://www.aota.org/~/media/Corporate/Files/Practice/Children/SchoolMHToolkit/Depression.pdf
- AOTA. Opp, A. (n.d.). Occupational Therapy and Depression: Reconstructing Lives Retrieved from https://www.aota.org/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/MH/Articles/Depression.aspx