By Julia Yubeta, Wm. Beaumont Army Medical CenterOctober 11, 2012
FORT BLISS, Texas -- Clinical symptoms of depression, while important in diagnosing depression, do little to explain the true anguish felt by people suffering from depression.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a nonprofit grassroots mental health education, advocacy and support organization, the best way to increase awareness is to learn from real patients.
One in four adults experiences a behavioral health problem in any given year, while one in 17 lives with a serious, chronic behavioral health illness.
What does depression feel like?
Read below for some anonymous and candid answers from individuals that have suffered the anguish of depression.
• It feels like living in a glass box. You can see the rest of the world going about life, laughing, bustling about, doing things, but they can't see you or hear you, or touch you, or notice you at all, and you cannot remember how to do the things that they are doing, like laughing and just being ordinary and satisfied with it. And you resent them for being happy.
• I have no energy at all. I sleep constantly as if I can't get enough sleep. I feel deeply empty and so lonely. Life is a chore and has no joy.
• I put on a happy face but the reality is I feel fatigued, lonely, unloved and unworthy.
• You feel like you are moving and thinking in slow motion. It feels like being in a dark hole and not being able to get out
• You have a feeling of impending doom -- like something bad is going to happen but you don't know what
• Incessantly and uncontrollably into your mind comes the memory of every failure, every bad or uncomfortable experience, like a torrent of negativity.
What to do
Get help. Clinical depression is a serious medical condition that, if left untreated, may lead to other complicated medical conditions. Two-thirds of people who suffer from depression don't seek help -- they believe their symptoms are just part of life.
Depression can be treated. Treatment may include psychotherapy, medications or a combination of both. A depression screening is often the first step to getting well.
"Research has shown that both medication and psychotherapy together provide the best outcome for the treatment of depression," said Col. Dale Levandowski, chief of Department of Behavioral Health at William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
Levandowski added that medication and therapy will help you get past the "personal stuckpoint."
Psychotherapy, in the form of cognitive behavioral therapy, provides you with the tools to remedy how a person thinks about events in their life -- and how they react to their thoughts.
These tools will prove helpful throughout a lifetime. Recognizing the beginning of a downward spiral, ruminations and thoughts that say the whole world is dark and bad as signs of a problem -- a problem that can be resolved.
What kind of therapist to see for depression
Various kinds of mental health specialists offer talk therapy.
Psychiatrists. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who treats mental illnesses. While some psychiatrists only see patients to prescribe medication, others also provide talk therapy. In most states, psychiatrists are the only mental health professionals who can prescribe medication.
Psychologists. A psychologist can help patients learn how to manage depression and teach ways to cope.
Social workers, counselors or therapists. These mental health professionals provide techniques and coping skills to manage depression.
No matter what type of therapist is seen, it is important that the patient feels comfortable talking to him or her. Therapy is more successful when the patient has a good relationship with the therapist.
A depression sufferer doesn't have to live a life as described by this anonymous quote: "I sense a stranger filling this silent room with anguish - a silence that rattles against the windows leaving me so cold and numb - and somehow this feeling I do not understand is my best friend and enemy all wrapped up in one."
People don't have to live with depression. Defeat that enemy, get treatment and feel the joy of life again.