Occurrences of depression in today’s society have increasingly been met with more and more understanding from the public in general. That’s my impression, at least. What was once regarded as an abnormality now seems to be treated as a fairly universal occurrence. In fact, it almost seems normal.

I am as happy as anyone that much of the stigma surrounding depression has seemingly melted away, but I wonder if it is treated as if it is too common now. Sometimes it seems as if depression is equated with a small bump along the road to better mental health. Everyone experiences it in some way or another, so we can just deal with it and move on, right?

Well, not exactly.

To be depressed represents an abnormal way of thinking. The American Psychiatric Association states that depression “negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.” Granted, depression is treatable, but isn’t something which has to be treated generally an indicator of something wrong? Whether it’s depression or the common cold, a solution needs to be offered for the condition.

Let me just give an example from my own life. I like to play the game Words With Friends on my cell phone. I have always been a fairly competitive person, but I’ve noticed something beyond that lately. I don’t just feel bad about losing; I feel really dumb when I don’t play well. I mean, I have a bachelor’s degree in English, for Pete’s sake. This should be a game I excel at, but I lose far more often than I win. That makes me question my own intelligence.

That doesn’t seem right to me. In fact, that seems completely wrong. Surely not everyone thinks this way about themselves when they don’t win their favorite game. I do, though, and the only reason I can come up with is because I struggle with depression. It clouds my thinking and causes me to devalue myself on a grand scale. It makes me want to walk away from things I enjoy because I feel like I’m not good enough at them. I could be completely wrong, but “normal” people do not function this way.

I’m not writing this to try to garner pity for myself, but rather to emphasize the fact that depression is not a minor thing to deal with. It can be life-consuming, inching its way in to every facet of a person’s existence. It seeks to steal hope, turning life into one long, dreary existence. For some, it can even cause physical pain. If someone is dealing with it, the solution is not as easy as taking a pill or getting a shot. Faulty thinking must be unraveled, activities must be performed deliberately, and outlooks must be transformed, and there is no quick fix on the horizon.

I love that the current outlook on depression is a positive one. The fear of discussing it openly seems to be fading day by day, which means the chances of lessening it effects are rising as well. As the world becomes more comfortable with the existence of depression, however, let us not forget that it will never represent a normal state of existence. Anyone who has ever wrestled with it can attest to that.

 

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