In my research, understanding and observations, I have concluded that there are two types of depression; situational/seasonal and clinical/chemical imbalances. I would like to shed light on the subject, talk about it openly and honestly and provide tools and resources to get you the help that you need to find greater clarity and hope for you future.
*****My purpose in writing about this topic is to create hope, validation and resources to help you find your way if you struggle with either type of depression. An additional purpose is to invite those who associate with individuals who struggle to know how to be supportive, non-judgmental and loving in encouragement to seeking further help.*****
This type of depression is clearly marked by changes of situations, environment, and seasons which can seem unnoticeable to the struggler. Others notice an onset when situations/seasons change that afford the symptoms of sadness, loneliness, hopelessness, pain, confusion, frustration, numbness, etc. Even efforts to help loved ones "snap out of it" seem effort filled with little progress, yet it can be done with this type of depression. This type of depression rarely needs medication, but a change of perspective, lifestyle, routine or creating more meaningful connections with others.
For the Sufferer:
Take a look at your habits. Can you move things around, change some or add some positive ones that will create a stronger sense of pushing through the situation/season?
Do you practice self-care? Take a shower, do your hair, wear your best clothes for the occasion. Staying in pajamas all day every day during this period will not serve you.
Find a purpose. You're a parent, co-worker, neighbor or friend and someone needs you to help them. The more you focus on helping others, the less you focus on the challenges that will eventually lift the weight of depression from your life.
Spend time outside. Even if it's just for a short period of time and your depression is onset by the cloudy days/months, get the fresh air that rejuvenates the spirit. Even sitting on your porch or going for a short walk with help with depression symptoms.
Don't be a hermit! Make friends! Make friends with those who are just like you who struggle with the same things, AND make friends with those who will help lift your spirits when facing the same challenges. This doesn't even mean that you have to talk to them face to face, just create some connections with other human beings.
For the Supporter/Family/Friend
LISTEN! The best gift you can give is to listen to your loved one and their feelings. Fully listening will assist with later tools to help them.
DON'T JUDGE! This one is one that I struggle with finding myself saying "snap out of it". We must not be quick to judge, regardless of what you think they can handle and aren't doing it well. This season shall pass and might return, don't be swift to place judgment.
Encourage activity/distraction. For this type of depression, often forgetting about it helps. Helping them see the bigger picture and being optimistic about the change they are facing or going through.
This type of depression is clearly marked by repeated exterior efforts to relieve symptoms with no progress, or even sinking further. Our bodies are laced with multiple hormones that work together simultaneously and separately to produce the optimal homeostasis. When these levels are off in the slightest, changes start to occur with our psyche. Left unchecked or unnoticed, symptoms can become far worse, even leading to the feelings that there is no hope or purpose in life. Feelings of help aren't real and life itself seems unsuccessful in moving forward; suicidal thoughts can take over.
This type of depression MUST be cared for professionally to ensure optimal recovery/results/rebalance.
For the sufferer
Don't think you can do it alone. It is easy to ignore the symptoms or feel embarrassed and keep it to yourself. DON'T do this! Talk to SOMEONE! If further necessary, seek professional help.
Don't feel like you're broken. Many people feel like they're broken because they have disturbing mental thoughts/feelings/actions. This is a clear indication that you aren't broken, but know that something isn't right. Don't allow the feelings of judgment from others, or that you place on yourself, stop you from finding the help you need.
Take care of yourself. Although self-care can't cure this type of depression, it does help to rule out a tool that you have tried to manage it. Feed your mind with learning, fill your body with good food and exercise and feed your spirit with prayer. Don't stop doing these things!
For the supporter/family/friend
Do not discredit their feelings. Even if you don't understand, be there for them. Offer tools, guidance and support to help them rule out seasonal/situational depression.
Take them seriously. Even if they have said multiple times that they feel suicidal, or feel like hurting someone else, get help immediately. This shows that you care for them. There might be consequences of frustration on their part when they reach chemical balance, it's worth the price!
Don't give up! As hard as it is to watch someone you love and care for struggle with this type of depression, don't give up. Keep encouraging them to seek professional help to find greater meaning and purpose to their wonderful life.
So how do you know which type of depression you have? It's easier said than done, but let me recap to shed the light.
External changes, improved self care & moods changing from day to day=seasonal/situational. It doesn't mean it's easy to treat, but it can be done, but NOT alone!
Every every to change habits, lifestyle, relationships, health and connections present a constant numbness and feeling of further sinking=clinical/chemical depression. It can be treated, medication is often the expectation.
In either case, don't feel like something's wrong with you or with someone else when depression can't be explained/managed. Take care of your health by reaching out and seeking the help that will create a greater sense of purpose.
You were meant to be on this Earth at this time and you were meant to struggle to help others know how to struggle well. Despite the pain that comes with either type of depression, rely on your gifts and the talents of others to help you figure out the best treatment.