Our Mental Health Awareness series continues with a discussion of the most common mental illnessopens a new window in the United States: major depressive disorder, often simply referred to as depression.
What is it like to have depression? You may feel hopeless or lethargic for no particular reason. Sometimes you start to cry and can't stop. Things that used to make you happy don't seem to matter anymore. You may feel like you're worthless, numb, or tired all the time. Perhaps you have difficulty sleeping, or you feel like you need to sleep all the time. Your appetite may disappear, or you may be eating too much. Maybe you feel aches and pains that have no specific cause. You don't know how to make these terrible feelings go away. They're overwhelming and affecting every aspect of your life. Overall it's difficult, if not impossible, to face the world.
No two people experience depression exactly the same way, although there are some discernible symptoms. For a more complete explanation of the symptoms of depression, see the National Institute of Mental Health 'Depression' pageopens a new window. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, please don't dismiss them. Depression isn't something that you can just 'get over.' It isn't possible to just 'cheer up' and 'move on.' When you're depressed, you are probably less likely to want to seek help, but getting help is important. Depression is a serious health concern which, for some of us, can result in severe impairment that interferes with or limits our ability to carry out daily activities. There is help available. Depression is very treatable. Make an appointment to talk to a physician or another healthcare professional.
Your life matters. If you need immediate help due to feelings or symptoms of depression, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255opens a new window or text HOME to 741741opens a new window. Needing immediate help doesn't necessarily mean you are planning to commit suicide. It could be that you're having a difficult time and don't know where to turn for support. Either way, there are people out there who want to help you.
Most people who are experiencing symptoms of depression (or any kind of difficulty, really) are far more likely to confide in a close friend or family member than to seek help from a healthcare professional. If someone you know has confided in you about having symptoms of depression, they may find it nearly impossible to get help by themselves because they're depressed and in pain. Your friend or family member will need your encouragement. Please reassure them that it's OK to seek medical help.
We have compiled a list of St. Tammany Parish Library materials and external websites that may be helpful for those of us who are dealing with depression:
"Depression often feels like moving through a fog so thick it envelopes every aspect of your entire life. Depression had its claws in Mark Litzsinger for years, but by taking the hands offered to him from family, friends, and medical professionals, he was able to climb out of the shadows and back into his life. You too can make the same journey. This updated book provides a hand to hold as you deal with depression. It is designed to help you—and your family, friends, and doctors—understand the disease and develop a plan for getting the best care to overcome depression."
"A short, deeply personal, and ultimately uplifting practical narrative on depression from a young mental health activist who has already inspired millions.Teenagers, educators, and parents alike, through the lens of his stories and battles, will be given a gritty message of hope, light, and inspiration."
"A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best . . . 'Furiously Happy' is about 'taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they're the same moments we take into battle with us when our brains declare war on our very existence. It's the difference between 'surviving life' and 'living life.' . . . This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are - the beautiful and the flawed - and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways."
"autobiographical, illustrated essays and cartoons from the author's popular blog and related new material that humorously and candidly deals with her own idiosyncrasies and battles with depression."
"As a physician who personally suffers from depression, Susan J. Noonan draws on her own expertise and empathy to create a guide for people who suffer from the disease. Explaining the basics of mental health--including sleep hygiene, diet and nutrition, exercise, routine and structure, and avoiding isolation . . . 'Managing Your Depression' empowers people to participate in their own care, offering them a better chance of getting, and staying, well . . . The book is specifically designed to be highly readable for people who are finding it difficult to focus and concentrate during an episode of depression. Cognitive exercises and daily worksheets help track progress and response to therapy and provide valuable information for making treatment decisions."