Generally, people do not become depressed “out of the blue”. Our brains are very clever at fighting negative emotions, we sort of trick ourselves into thinking we are okay - and this is a good thing as it helps us to get on with life - up to a point.
Sometimes, our defense mechanisms are so good at helping us to survive (or appear to survive) that they stop us from seeking help or from doing things that might actually make us feel better.
Often, a combination of several factors over time result in symptoms associated with depression. For example, we might be having some trouble at work, a problem with a colleague, or a difficult task - nothing too serious so we keep going. Then we might catch the flu which weakens our resilience and makes things that little bit more difficult, but its nothing that hasnt happened before and so we carry on. Perhaps we have an argument with a friend or partner but to maintain the relationship we “let it go”. Then as we are making our breakfast one morning we spill some milk and all of a sudden feel like we cant cope anymore and it all falls apart. You think to yourself, “whats wrong with me? its just some milk!” but in actual fact its not the spilt milk at all that we care about, its all the other little stressors along the way that have made us vulnerable.
Once we reach this point it is undersandable we start thinking negatively, “nothing is going right for me lately, I'm a mess, I can't do anything!” and then we start judging ourselves and those around us, we might even try to blame someone else. Then we realise we are depressed.
Now maybe this story doesnt ring true for you - its different for everyone depending on our personalities, how we were raised and taught to deal with things, and the kinds of support factors and resources we have at our disposal.
The lead up to depression may have been happening for a long time, months, or even years. This is where counselling comes in. Talking to a professional and someone who is external to your situation can often have clarity and insights that are quite helpful and liberating.
It is important to remember that if you start to feel depressed it does not mean that you are crazyl, it does not mean that you will never feel better again, and it does not mean that you are destined to be fragile forever. It means that you need to take some sort of action to deal with factors in your life that are causing you stress or unhappiness.
The first step in this process is the realisation that something is wrong. The second step is to do a sort of ‘stock take’ of your life, look at your family and relationships, your health and nutrition, your career or education, your hobbies and leisure activies, your goals, and start to piece together where youre not quite hitting the mark. Often, this process in itself is helpful is motivating us for change, and in helping us to feel more positive and in control.
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