Depression: Why “Just Get Over it” is NOT the Cure

Depression is one of the most commonly experienced mental health conditions, and yet it is the one that people least seek out treatment for.

I can’t help but think this is mainly due to the fact that it is considered “an invisible illness” where it is hard to see, people are afraid to talk about it, and it is often misunderstood.  When people experience symptoms such as intense feelings of sadness, low energy, difficulty concentrating, and social isolation, friends and family often don’t know the best ways to respond and provide support.

Understanding your depression, that it is not something to “just get over,” and seeking professional help, is essential to help you start feeling better and live the life you deserve.

Here are some important things to know about depression:

There are several different types of depressive disorders

Depression is not a “one-size-fits-all” mental health condition.  There are different types of depression, including seasonal affective disorder, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, and post-partum depression to name a few.  Your depression may have been impacting you for months or years, or it may be something that just started more recently “out of the blue” or as a result of a recent transition.  Either way, seeking help through psychotherapy and at times medication management can help you understand your depression and learn skills to take control of this painful condition.

There are ways with and without medication to reduce depression

Many people automatically think that if they seek help for depression, they will be forced to start taking medication.  This is not true.  Therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and psychodynamic therapy, are designed to help you understand emotional barriers that impact your depression and increase coping skills and alternative ways of thinking to decrease your depression.  Medication, particularly anti-depressants, may be recommended if psychotherapy alone does not provide satisfactory results.  There are alternative and holistic forms of treatment that are often encouraged and discussed in therapy, including mindfulness, meditation, and nutritional counseling.  Bottom line, there are many options to reduce your depression and it is absolutely possible to recover from it!

Your environment may be reinforcing your depression

This can be a hard thing to look at, but often times our environment itself reinforces depression.  Perhaps you just started a new job, and you are feeling inadequate or regretting the decision to have made this job change.  Maybe you thought the perfect college or graduate school was going to be the time of your life, and it just hasn’t turned out the way you wanted it to be.  Or you may be in a living environment which is toxic to your mental health.  Either way, therapy can help you untangle what is biologically-based and what is environmentally-reinforced and how you can increase skills to both accept and change your environment.

You cannot recover from your depression alone

This is absolutely the most important thing to know about depression.  Our culture reinforces this idea that if we have depression, we are weak, inadequate, and should just be able to “kick this thing” on our own.  Just because you can’t see depression in the same way you can see some physical or medical conditions does not mean it is any less serious.  You do not deserve to live another moment of suffering, and real peace and healing is absolutely possible.  Being honest with yourself, talking with your friends and family, going to a local community support group for depression, and reaching out to a therapist are a few great ways to start getting the right help.