A Mental Disorder, Not a Mood
“I’m a little depressed today.”
“You’re just depressed right now. Don’t worry…you’ll get over it.”
“18 to 3? This game is depressing.”
We have all heard these types of things in our daily lives. We have also probably said them ourselves. But they aren’t accurate. These sentences describe low moods ranging from sadness to a mere bummer. However, they do not describe depression. Depression is a very common but potentially very serious mental disorder that affected over 17 million American adults in 2018. And no one who has gone through it would describe someone as “just depressed right now.”
Symptoms of Depression
One of the best quotes I’ve read concerning depression is from Elizabeth Wurtzel in her book, Prozac Nation. She writes, “That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious and compounds daily that it’s impossible to see the end.” However you may feel about the book (it’s pretty polarizing), the end of that quote nails it. I always attempted to describe depression as living inside a black hole. The National Institute of Mental Health, on the other hand, lists the following as signs and symptoms of depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause or that do not ease even with treatment.
Depression and Substance Abuse
Compounding the problem of depression is that it is one of the most common co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders are a complex of mental health disorders, usually involving some substance abuse disorder and another mental health issue. Unfortunately, these disorders become inextricably intertwined. For example, a person with depression may turn to alcohol to self-medicate. This approach initially provides some comfort. However, alcohol is also a depressant, so eventually, the condition worsens and requires more alcohol for relief, creating a horrible downward spiral.
Contrary to the many well-intentioned posts on social media, exercise will not cure depression. It can, however, alleviate some of the symptoms. Socialization is another “home remedy” that can help with feelings of depression. However, major depression often requires some type of therapy or counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy are two evidence-based approaches that have proven effective in treating depression. Ocean Recovery offers both techniques, group therapy, nutritional counseling, and other activities as part of our holistic approach to treating depression and eating disorders.
If depression or drug or alcohol addiction has become too much for you or your loved one, please reach out to us today.
Ocean Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial policy.
- Greenberg PE, Fournier AA, Sisitsky T, et al. The Economic Burden of Adults with Major Depressive Disorder in the United States (2010 and 2018). Pharmacoeconomics. 2021;39(6):653-665. doi:10.1007/s40273-021-01019-4
- National Institute of Mental Health. Depression. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Published July 2022. Accessed August 2, 2022. https://www.NIMH.nih.gov/health/topics/depression