Finally the snow has receded (we hope!). Flowers are blooming and windows are flung open to let the fresh air in. So why do you feel so gloomy? You may be reacting to something unpleasant that has happened in your life–maybe you recently changed jobs, had a friend move away or been in a car crash. Feeling depressed after those types of events is normal. The bad mood that is attached to a situation usually lasts a few days and gets better as the situation improves. But what if you just can’t shake the bad mood and you can’t tie it to a sad or upsetting event? Sometimes people will say something like, “My life is so good and the sun is out. I have no reason to be this sad.” Well, you might be dealing with a mood disorder known as Major Depressive Disorder. It’s important to know that something is not a disorder until it disrupts your daily life. For example, your sad mood makes it difficult or impossible to go to work or school or it interferes with a relationship. It is a pervasive and sad mood that lasts all day, in most settings. There are some other telltale signs of Major Depressive Disorder:
- Significant weight loss or gain
- insomnia or sleeping too much
- being agitated or excessively irritable
- a feeling of hopelessness or excessive sadness
- diminished ability to concentrate or think
- thoughts of death or suicide
So what can you do if you find yourself in a depressive cycle? First and foremost, tell someone. If you are experiencing Major Depressive Disorder your ability to think clearly is compromised. And that’s not just me saying that. You can check out brain scans that clearly show the depressed brain and the normal brain. The depressed brain images show the pre-frontal cortex not activated or not light up. The pre-frontal cortex is the part of the brain where we do all of our reasoning. When that part of the brain is off, simple things seem impossible. So tell someone who can help you reason through some of the depression fog. Next know you are not alone. Millions of people experience Depression and figure out how to live with it. You will too. But what if you are beyond that and actually feel suicidal? Then you must reach out to a professional counselor, a doctor, a member of the clergy, a crisis hotline or take yourself to the ER. The world needs you. Depression is tough, but you are tougher.