Before I start, I would like to remind you fellow readers that I have yet to reach my doctorate degree for psychology but this article is the work of many research done previously and also, improved by the teachings that I have received from my devoted lecturers. This article is also inspired by clinically-diagnosed patients whom I’ve personally interviewed; lastly, accrediting to my personal experiences and thoughts.
Many have asked how to deal or cure depression so I shall explain the term ‘depression’ clearly before proceeding further.
Firstly, ‘depression’ is NOT sadness, grieve or bereavement. Yet, it is very common to think that you are undergoing depression when you are undergoing an unexpected loss; it could be the loss of your loved ones through a break up or death. Or maybe, something valuable to you. As long as you are aware of your feelings, you are not depressed. To feel waves of painful feelings is a natural process unique to each individual. This may cause withdrawal from usual activities until the grieving process is over. However, when one is depressed, they typically do not understand what they are feeling. Many would describe it as a hollow emotion in which an emotion is felt but unlike other emotions, this emotion has a sense of nothingness. Thus, you feel nothing despite having in mind that you are experiencing an emotion. This state of mind will be accompanied by self-loathing and low self-esteem.
Here is a list of symptoms (mild to severe)
- Having a depressed mood
- Seemingly unending sadness
- Loss of interest/pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite – weight loss or gain
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Increased fatigue
- Increased participation in purposeless activities (eg. staring into space, pacing, self-harming, etc.) which are observable
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making concrete decisions
- Suicidal/death thoughts
To be clinically-diagnosed with depression, one has to experience these symptoms for at least two weeks. Many usually seek help either too early or too late while some remain untreated. Medications are usually handed out by psychiatrists, accompanied by therapy treatment – depending on the severity of depression – as depression has a wide range too (which I do not intend to delve any deeper into its specific branches). Why the treatments are as such? A person’s mental health is made up of biological, psychological and social factors – in short – ‘biopsychosocial’ factors. Therefore, medications are meant to alter the brain chemistry of a depressed person while therapy sessions are meant to target brainwaves and the psychological makeup of a person (in terms of feelings, actions and thoughts). These treatments are meant to reduce anxiety and create a peaceful mindset within an individual, slowly building back the ‘sense of self’ and increase the self-esteem of the affected one. Why is this so? When one is at peace, a sense of security is built. A sense of security comes with a sense of (self-)trust. This sense of trust forms the basis of the sense of self as one becomes more confident of him/herself. Being self-confident will enable one to have a stabler stand in society and not be so easily defeated by the affecting factors in their social life.
As feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness slowly reduce, the heart has more space to create positive feelings. An increased self-satisfaction accounts for the inner peace created. This is why when one is depressed, the most important step is to build back his or her self-esteem. Thus, the power of the self. That is why there is always the saying that as long as you’ve set your mind to do something, there is nothing that you cannot do. Of course, for a person who does not naturally have a high sense of self-worth, they would need to be surrounded with like-minded or positive people to show them that they are WORTHY because these people genuinely care for their well-being. They need to be constantly reminded of their inner strength AND NOT ‘their past mistakes’.
You’re probably here simply for general knowledge or maybe because you think you might be down with depression; or know someone who goes through this. Thus, take note of what I’m about to mention next – 5 golden advice on what to say and NOT TO SAY to depressed people – the next time you meet up with them.
1) Depressed people HATE to be reminded that there are people who are worse off than them. Understand that they are well aware of this so what do you expect them to do? Zip up and stop “lamenting” because this is life and life sucks? You may not have the intention to hurt but you may guilt-trip them and make them feel like as though you’re implying that they should “stop seeking attention”. This will cause them to recoil back to their shells and worsen their condition
2) Refrain from speaking too much of yourself or others while trying to comfort depressed people that they are “not the only ones who are suffering”. Do not compare their inner strengths to others. You would’ve just weighted their importance (self-worth) against others and this is detrimental. They chose to open up to you not to hear you gabble away your life story or other people’s life stories but to voice out their feelings. This will leave whatever they wanted to say unheard as they will feel insecure, like a “weakling” and an “attention seeker”.
3) It may seem harmless but telling a depressed person to snap it out and try not to be depressed is equivalent to having an “expectation” on them. However, they are trying to be happy and feel something but they just cannot do so. Telling them so would make them pretty more anxious as they know they are unable to meet up to your “expectations” fast
4) Never say that you KNOW how they feel (even if you were once depressed) because everybody is made up of their unique personal experience, feelings, emotions and thoughts. Yours can never be compared to any other’s too. You would make them regret for talking about themselves because they selectively chose you to talk things out simply because they trusted you. They trusted that you wouldn’t let them down (i.e. disappoint them) but you have done so by making them feel unworthy. As now, the talk is all directed at yourself
5) SHOW and not simply tell them that they matter to you by being there for them – firstly, by listening to them narrate their emotions. SILENCE can be an assurance that you are deeply listening to them while trying to empathize how they feel. Refrain from speaking too much as you might end up with the wrong words and backfire plans. Your body language matters a lot too. Do not show that you are distracted by your phone, etc. because it shows that they do not matter to you, causing them to feel worthless. Instead, remind them with your constant actions that they are worthy to be cared for and unlike others, you will stay with them through thick and thin. This will let them know that you love them unconditionally and I think this capacity of love is rather hard to find nowadays
Now, ask yourself this question. Have you found yourself feeling nothing at all in the event of a loss. You know that you ought to be feeling “sad” or “unhappy”, yet you just feel very detached and emotionless. It could even scare you at how cold you are although it does not mean that you are rejoicing over a loss. It makes you feel like as though you have no feelings of endearment and it scares you badly. Have you ever felt this way? Next, have you found yourself in a position where you are constantly trying out something new just so that you can FEEL? And is that so because you are never satisfied with whatever that comes by and you are still trying to find something or someone that you can settle down and feel very at peace? Well, you might need to stop what you are doing, sit down and think it through! Are you still trying to find yourself because you don’t have a stable one existing within you? Then maybe you should consider taking a break from all these melodrama and find peace within yourself. All that you’ve always wanted to know or seek is already inside you. You might have been busily chasing after temporary satisfaction to only lose your self-worth in the process. Usually, people unknowingly start to fall depressed from these instances and it could even drag for years without any solid knowledge.
The picture below is a cropped screenshot of a lyric which portrays an example of how a depressed person feels
Checkout the link below if you have never heard of this song before! I find this particular song very descriptive to understand how the unconscious defends the ego from getting hurt. Yet, if the ego gets too used to the unconscious’ defence mechanisms, it could turn into a maladaptive behaviour
i.e. NOT MENTALLY HEALTHY
i.e. increasing likelihood of depression and other mental illness
As a friend, family member or an intimate partner, we each play a huge role in helping our loved ones feel blissful for their existence. It may be tough especially when everyone has their own problems to deal with. Hence, it is good to constantly remind yourself (not remind others) that you are not alone and you come to this world with a certain purpose – in which – ONLY YOU can find out if you take the first step to seek from within yourself. Understanding that suffering is inevitable, it will keep us more oblivious to our surroundings and have more compassion towards the people around us. This will make it easier for us to jump in whenever we feel that people need help or when we are being sought for. I have no idea about Jackie Chan’s mental health history but one thing I know for sure is that he learnt how to stood up against bullies after standing up for someone else. Likewise, you learn happiness after being the cause of other people’s happiness as self-satisfaction forms. Well, unless you rejoice in the sufferings of others, you would understand the point I’m trying to highlight here.
Definitely, there is no define method to cure depression. You would know that you’re no longer depressed once when you’ve recovered. You’ll feel like a “normal” person – although I feel everybody is abnormal in their own ways – but well, at least you feel more motivated to do things again! My lecturer once said that depression shouldn’t be treated as a mental illness but rather, a symptom to an underlying issue; a problem which stood unresolved and ignored.
Funfact!: Our unconscious is always on the lookout for anything that hurts our “ego”. When it feels that our “ego” (a sense of self) is being badly hurt, defense mechanisms will be thrown in to prevent ourselves from getting hurt. As this happens on a subconscious level, one will not realize the cause of their actions/thoughts/feelings during the process; until they have sat down to think about it or past experiences have made them more mindful of themselves. Thus, when you have those depressed symptoms in which you feel nothing at all, it could be your unconscious means to protect yourself from getting hurt. Does it makes sense to you that you won’t get hurt if you don’t feel anything? Think about it!
I hope this article has cleared any misunderstandings you might’ve had previously and helped you a fair bit! Sayonara!