Is Depression a Mental Illness?

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Is Depression a Mental Illness?

Although depression is officially recognized as one of the mood disorders associated with mental and emotional health, there are still those who unfortunately oppose this categorization. While the purpose of this post is not so much to debate the merits of a clinical diagnosis of depression or something it often gets mistaken for (bipolar disorder) as it is to help educate the reader on how to identify and deal with it, it is still worth noting for the simple fact that you may get blowback from some pseudo-psychologist spouting junk science when trying to share facts on the subject.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mental illness which affects a person’s mood and state of mind. It can hinder their ability to focus and concentrate, as well as taking away the motivation to do almost anything. As depression worsens, an overwhelming feeling of worthlessness can begin to set in. In the beginning, this can manifest itself in ways such as neglecting responsibilities in both professional and personal lives. 


Being late to work, underperforming and even regularly missing days may be a sign that something more serious is at play. In their personal lives, breaking plans with family and friends, isolating more and more from those who care about them and even ending romantic relationships can also be common as the illness progresses. 


In the worst case scenarios, a complete abandonment of even the most basic activities and requirements of life may come as a result. Things like personal hygiene, showering, brushing teeth and washing clothes may all be neglected. And of course, the final and most obvious sign of severe depression would be discussion of or even a possible attempt at suicide.

How to Cope With Depression

The most common treatment methods concerning depression are usually two-fold; talk therapy and medication. Sometimes discussing their most intimate and private thoughts can make people feel incredibly vulnerable and uncomfortable. This is completely understandable. However, it is also important to remember that anyone that you are speaking with, whether a psychiatrist or a mental health counselor, they have been trained to deal with these types of issues and anything that you tell them will always be held in the strictest of confidence and privilege.

How to Fight Depression

Before a person can ever truly begin to wage a battle against a mental health condition such as depression, they must first learn to accept and cope with it as described in the previous section. Only then can they start down the path of actively working to overcome or at least manage it successfully. They way to actually fight this disorder oftentimes varies from patient to patient. The severity of the condition, the personality type of the person who suffers from it, as well as the types of medication and therapy, which they respond best to all play a role in developing the best offensive strategy on how to deal with their own personal case.


How Can You Help Others Dealing With Depression? 

Many people who are reading this post may not be doing so for themselves. They may have a family member or close friend who is struggling with depression and are looking for ways to help them in their struggle. One of the most frustrating feelings in the world is watching someone that you care about fall deeper and deeper into emotional and mental turmoil without being able to do anything to help. It’s important to remember in these situations that while it may be your instinct to come in with a grand gesture to save the day, this is a long process and sometimes all someone needs is a little bit of kindness and understanding.  

By Listening

Depressive disorders (as well as other types of mental disorders) are many times helped just by someone taking the time to listen to the person who is struggling with them in an open and non-judgmental manner. So often when someone is explaining or venting about a problem to us, we are so busy trying to offer them solutions that we don’t take time to simply listen when that is all that our loved one is really looking for.

Through Intervention

Sometimes in the case of major depression, a meeting with family and friends might be necessary to help the person that you care about realize just how serious their mental illness has become. Although it is not the same thing as alcohol and drug abuse which commonly employs this method of therapy, it still arises from the same root cause in the brain. It simply manifests itself in a different manner. 


In fact, many people begin to drink or use drugs excessively as a means to self-medicate. Regardless of what other factors may be involved, an intervention can offer not only an opportunity for the subject to get help but also a reminder of how much others care about and love them. This can serve as a great motivator to seek help.


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