Depression — What It Is & How To Recognize It

Feeling depressed and having depression

Photographed by Ben Lamberty.
Despite lots of advancements in the psychology world, many aspects of depression remain mysterious, to mental health professionals and their patients alike. The video below, one of the latest from TEDEd, suggests that this is due to the condition’s intangibility — depression isn’t a cold or some other illness with physical symptoms that are clear and consistent. However, the video, created by Helen M. Farrell, MD, provides some insight into what depression is, and what signs to look for (in yourself and your loved ones).
It’s vital to understand the difference between feeling depressed and having depression. Just about all people deal with feelings of sadness, but they pass or are eventually (at times, even easily) resolved. Depression, on the other hand, lasts much longer, following those who suffer from it to the point that they may lose hope of finding a solution. Clinical depression, as explained in this video, can cause sufferers to avoid activities or people that used to excite and engage them, exacerbating the sense of guilt and worthlessness that also accompanies the condition. A lack of energy, appetite, and concentration commonly occurs as well. Most alarmingly, people with depression may deal with recurring thoughts of suicide.

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Mental Illness Affects Everyone

Do you know that 1 in 4 Americans will suffer from some form of mental illness in any given year? Do you know that approximately 60% of adults, and almost 50% of youth, ages 8 -15,
with a mental illness received no mental health services in the previous year?
Do you know that serious mental illness costs the U.S. $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year?
 
 
 
 
 
Lenny Sanicola Headshot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Aware: 3 Ways To Support Someone Suffering From Mental Illness

Have you ever felt ashamed about skipping out on a plan or event because of mental illness?

 

Gabi Garrett

 

I have.

Would the same apply if you had a health issue, such as a minor headache, instead of mild anxiety or heart palpitations? I’d say, probably not.

As someone who has struggled with anxiety for the past five years, it’s important for me to highlight the stigma that comes along with having mental health issues.

Mental illness has gotten a bad rep in popular culture.

Many shows portray the idea that if you have a mental health issue, you should be locked away from the public.

When Lana was trapped inside the fictional Briarcliff Mental Institution in “American Horror Story” for essentially choosing to be a lesbian, we saw how far the stigmas against mental illness have come, and how far we have to go.

It could be those with mental illness are shown to be locked away because the majority of the public can’t handle these issues.

How can we make it more natural to understand mental illness?

 

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‘I want this to be joyous’: Edinburgh fringe’s startling shows about depression

 

 

In cabaret shows and musicals such as My Beautiful Black Dog,

performers at the fringe are breaking the taboo of mental health

 

 

 

 

‘People don’t want to talk about this stuff’ … Brigitte Aphrodite’s My Beautiful Black Dog. Photograph: Olivier Richomme

As a nation, the UK has never excelled at talking about its own state of mind. From discussions about depression to frank admissions of unhappiness, such matters have mostly remained taboo in favour of maintaining that very British stiff upper lip.

However, at this year’s Edinburgh festival fringe, mental health has emerged as an unexpected theme, with performers and comedians increasingly creating and championing pieces that break through the stigma.

As is reflective of the breadth of the fringe itself, these ideas and issues around mental health are being presented in pieces spanning standup and musicals to monologues and dramatic lectures. Already grabbing headlines is Fake It ’Til You Make It, a show created by comedian Bryony Kimmings and advertising executive Tim Grayburn.

 

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Which Comes First: Depression or Weight Gain?

Don't address your weight before your mental health

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For many people, weight is depressing. Whether consequent to society's hateful weight biases, which expose individuals with obesity to mood-killing bullying, scorn and discrimination, or to personally held beliefs and attitudes, there's little doubt that weight is often a huge psychological burden.

Yoni Freedhoff
Yoni Freedhoff

 

[See When Science Met The Biggest Loser.]

 

There's little doubt, too, that those who struggle with both weight and depression often feel a tight relationship between them, that their depression would lift were they to lose weight. And for some it does.

A recent meta-analysis of the impact of intentional non-pharmacologic weight-loss programs on depression revealed that indeed weight loss is associated with an improvement in mood. But that's not the whole story. And so, before you rush out and join a weight-loss program, you need to know that the mood benefits shown occurred in folks enrolled in behavioral weight-loss programs, regardless of whether or not they lost weight. In other words, it wasn't the losing that was helping mood, it was something else.

The researchers believe that most likely mood was shown to improve due to either exercise or the social support offered by the programs themselves.

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