Depression is more than feeling sad and blue. Those feelings are typically involved; but depression goes well beyond that to include a sense of helplessness and despair. It comes with physical symptoms; you feel like you’re made of lead, or as a number of people have told me, as if a very heavy blanket is pressing down on you.
As you might imagine, this is no fun. It saps motivation and energy levels faster than my dad’s gigantic 1970 Mercury Marquis cruise liner drained gas. (On long trips, we could put couch cushions into the foot wells of the back seat – without any need to squeeze them to fit – and make bunk beds for my brother and I. One could stretch out comfortably across the vast back seat; and the other on the “lower bunk” of cushions. Gives you a sense of how fuel economy was… missing.)
I remember as a bright-eyed young social worker in my first job (The Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital… not exactly a place for fun family vacations) experiencing for the first time someone with acute depression. If his life was a video, someone had set the playback speed on slow-motion, walked away and forgotten about it. This man’s body moved slowly. Not just walking speed; but everything. Hand gestures. Chewing. He spoke slowly. It was amazing — and painful — to watch.
Depression, thankfully, is not always that severe. But even when milder, it is no treat.
Depression is not a “chemical imbalance” in the brain. That is an old, popular, but oversimplified and narrow view. I still hear people talk about it, which is unfortunate. Depression has multiple contributing factors feeding it. I’ve blogged about one of these; negative and innacurate thoughts and beliefs. However, thoughts are just one ingredient in the “fuel” which drives depression.
I strongly recommend The Antidepressant Skills Workbook, also linked to below. This is a fantastic — and free — PDF book, created by a couple of generous psychologists. It explains depression in much more detail than I have above. It guides the reader through specific areas of skill to learn and develop in order to combat depression; along with various “bigger picture” considerations (nutrition, sleep, exercise, etc.) which all have an influence on mood and depression.
Download a workbook to learn about depression and start resisting its influence.
Choose the first link for an adult version, and the second for a youth version.
The Antidepressant Skills Workbook:
To quote from the book’s website : “The Antidepressant Skills Workbook (ASW) gives an overview of depression, explains how it can be effectively managed according to the best available research, and gives a step-by-step guide to changing patterns that trigger depression.”
Antidepressant Skills for Teens:
Produced by the same folks as the workbook above, this one is focused on teenagers, and written to be more accessible for youth.