I've always thought that a lot of teenagers these days seem to think that the slightest bit of upset or distress in their lives can be classified as depression. I always kind of think to myself depression is when for six months you can't live with yourself not for two days you feel bad because of some stupid event. I also think that the pharmaceutical industry has been quick to jump on this trying to sell you every pill under the sun, as well as the psychiatric industry who are very quick to tell you that you're in dire need of therapy.
I guess my question is, at what point do you consider deep sadness to be depression. Does it have to be a strict chemical imbalance or can it be caused by a major upset. Does it have to be for an extended period of time and does it have to be a certain intensity of sadness. I'm very interested to see how many people would agree with my viewpoint on this one, it seems the vast majority of people wouldn't.
Also, have you ever (or do you still) consider yourself to have suffered from depression and if so, did you take any steps to get help or did you suffer in silence.
Hi, I'm Dev, I'm 20, and I have major depressive disorder. Some of the other people have said some really succinct things in this thread already, but for the purposes of being incredibly personal, I'm going to go ahead and describe my thoughts in their entirety.
At the age of eleven, my parents divorced. I know what you're thinking- "Oh, one of those." But actually, I'm stating this because I'm not one of those, but I spent the next four years of my life (until the age of fifteen) being told I was one of those. In fact, I have a very atypical story about my depression: instead of indulging in the thought of being depressed immediately, I spent those years thinking that I was just a tad bitter and sad about my parents.
I had a particularly unstable childhood because my parents were in the military, and I never stayed in one city for longer than two years. At the age of twelve, one of my closest, and also unfortunately long distance, friends (fifteen at the time) committed suicide. There were a few other events of a personal nature that troubled me. So when I became increasingly despondent and unreachable, it was attributed to my stress and sadness over these occurrences.
By the time I hit high school, I started thinking otherwise. I had approximately two friends by some small miracle, and I started noticing that their general moods were entirely different than mine. They seemed to be living life as a long continuance of general contentedness or even happiness, sprinkled with sadness or anger. I couldn't relate to them, because I was beginning to realize that my life was spent mostly in a sense of numbness, sadness, or ennui with occasions where I felt extreme happiness (I never felt any sense of contentment because of how polar my emotions were).
Slowly, my grades slipped, being previously a reasonably dedicated "A" student. I started spending more time online and less time being with my friends. I even skipped out on a family vacation by claiming illness, stayed at home by myself for two days, and didn't bother with things like showering or eating. Basically I was no longer capable of functioning. Throughout high school, I realized what I was experiencing was probably depression.
When college came, I moved across the country and had no choice but to dedicate myself once more. Keeping busy with 18 hours of classes seemed to help me interact more with other people. I seemed to be significantly better than I had been, and I was hoping that I would stabilize naturally. By the end of the semester, I was completely overwhelmed. I knew I had to get back home, so I transferred universities and ran back with my tail between my legs. That was the point where I realized that ultimately I needed others' help.
Still, it took me until February of this year and a major break-up for me to seek assistance. Honestly, it took me considering suicide as an easy and neat solution for me to crush my pride long enough to find a therapist. After two sessions, she'd prescribed me a combination anti-depressant/anti-anxiety drug. It took almost a month, but I was starting to finally feel more connected to the world. My entire disposition was slowly changing. In fact, one day after brushing my teeth, I looked into my bathroom mirror and found myself smiling for no reason without realizing it.
I wouldn't say that now I'm happy, or that I'm even contented. I honestly don't think that anyone who is reasonably intelligent could maintain a state of what people consider "happy". Depression consumes your life, it stains every aspect of your personality, it affects every time you hang out with your friends, it has a tendency to ruin perfectly good afternoons.
Because of my experiences, I have a tendency to harshly judge anyone else who claims to be depressed. I know, not cool. But at the same time, as so many have pointed out, sometimes people are just ignorant of what depression can really be. One person stated that people just don't know how to associate feelings with what they really are, so they generalize; I feel like this is absolutely true. A lot of kids aren't properly socialized for many different reasons, or maybe just never learn how to deal with their emotions (I count myself among these).
But at the same time, I feel uncomfortable discrediting people who claim depression. For some people, they have lived comfortable enough lives that their seemingly minute disappointments are actually very traumatizing. In my opinion, depression is just... incomprehensible to anyone who is not the person experiencing it, and that's the bottom line.
I personaly have never had depression but I do know people that do.
My best friend, for example has depression. For her its being sad for a long period of time. Shes been depressed for almost a year now, and I have been with her the entire way so I do think I have an understanding of what its like for someone with depression. Of course I dont know what its like, just that I know what people are talking about. Also she is not on medication. She is not so depressed that she wants to kill or hurt herself, shes just very unhappy. She does go to therepy, but it was her choice. She had felt overly upset for a while and went to her mom and asked if she could go to a therepist to see if she had depression.
My dad also used to have depression, but with him it was a major upset. Actually it was twice. The first time was when he and my mom got a divorce. He did not want the divorce and it caused him to become depressed. The second time was like a post tramatic stress thing. He was putting up christmas lights when no one was home and the ladder fell backwards and he fell off the roof. Luckily no perminiate damage happened. He just broke his wrist and had to get stitches by his eye and was bruised. But this event caused him to have depression. He said that he would wake up in terror some nights afraid he was going to die alone. Now he no longer has depession thankfully.
So from these storys I suppose im saying that depression can be both a chemical embalance or cause by a major upset. I dont agree that medication is pushed on teenagers though. In fact many therepist use it as a absolute last resort (the oerson just isnt getting better and nothing else works) or their depression is so terrible that they could potentally be harmful to themselves or others in which case the medication is actually really needed. And therapy isnt bad. I dont think it should be the first reaction, but it can really help.