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5 Important Things to Remember If You’re Experiencing Depression.

Depression. There’s hardly another life experience that so many of us go through and yet, while going through it, feel so utterly alone in it.

Did you know that according to Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults annually (or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older) with a median onset age for this at age 32? And did you know that as many as one in 33 children and one in eight adolescents have clinical depression? Moreover, did you know that women are twice as likely to experience depression as men?

5 Important Things to Remember If You’re Experiencing Depression.

Clearly, huge numbers of us – particularly us adult women – will experience depression at some point in our lives.

And yet, for something that so many of us experience, there’s still a great deal of collective stigma and social shame in admitting that we personally struggle with depression, stigma that often makes us feel isolated, disconnected, and like the only ones going through depression, through our own often hellish Dark Night of the Soul.

So if you’ve ever found yourself struggling with depression, today’s post is dedicated to reminding you of five important things I think are critical to remember as you journey through depression.

1. Depression is not a sign of weakness, brokenness, or anything to be ashamed about. Period.

Let me repeat this again: 

Depression is not a sign of weakness, brokenness, or anything to be ashamed about. Depression or, in other words, intense and persistent sadness, is, to a certain extent, actually a normal part of life and an entirely appropriate response to the losses, grief, stressors, etc. that we may experience in our lives.

Honestly, I think that most of us don’t get through this human experience without dealing with depression at some point.

But of course, when depression and its accompanying feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and even worthlessness persist and interfere psychologically and physiologically with your ability to function in your life, depression may take on the form of a persistent disorder (for more information on classifications of depression check out this article from the National Institute of Mental Health).

And whether your depression is situation-dependent, short term or long term, remember that your depression is not a sign of weakness: it’s a literal chemical imbalance in your brain and a pain in your soul that’s calling for your attention and attentiveness.

2. For many, depression IS treatable.

According to DBSA, “up to 80% of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, attending support groups or a combination of these treatments.” And yet, what’s also true is that nearly 2 out of 3 people suffering from depression do not seek treatment for it!

Please. If you’re dealing with depression, reach out and get support. While it may seem hopeless from inside depression that this feeling state you’re in could ever get better (that’s the depression talking, it wants you to believe this!), the truth and reality is that things can get better if you get the right supports in place.

There is absolutely no shame whatsoever about needing medication, therapy, or other professional supports to help you get through this time. You deserve a chance to get through your depression with help so please, reach out to your doctor, a psychiatrist, or your therapist if you’re struggling with depression. Start a conversation about medication, alternative treatments, more intensive therapy, and other interventions that you and your professional providers think could help you.

You don’t have to do this alone. Depression is treatable and can be managed and, again, you don’t have to do this alone.

3. You can live with depression and still live a wonderful life. It just may look different than you imagined sometimes.

Depression doesn’t mean you’ll never feel better or be unable to do the things you want to in your life. But it may take extra care to manage your mental health along the way and to live a life that supports you instead of triggers your depression (more on that in point #4).

Depression doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t build a fulfilling career, a loving relationship and family, a connected community, or joyful hobbies. But it may mean that you have to have more supports and the right kind of expectations in place as you work towards cultivating these things in your life.

And while I may be biased, I think that therapy is one of the very best resources you can employ in helping you learn to build and cultivate a life that feels good even while you manage your depression. I’ve recently expanded my office hours so if any of my new open time slots work for you, I’d love to assist you in learning and experiencing how you can live a wonderful life even with depression. 

4. Depression looks differently for everyone so find out what your version of depression needs to be managed.

While depression certainly has some tell-tale clinical indicators – persistent sadness, loss of interest in things that used to delight you, lack of energy, increase/decrease appetite or sleep, and more – the way that depression shows up for each of us may look different depending on how we learned to cope with it.

Moreover, there is no one prescriptive formula for what may help you manage and move through your depression.

Your therapist, doctor, and/or psychiatrist can work with you to help you understand what you may need physically, pharmacologically, and psychologically, but at the end of the day, no one is the expert of your depression experience but you.

Definitely take the advice of experts about the evidence-based advice on medicines, exercise, diet, therapy interventions, etc, that may support you but also become a rigorous student of your own experience as you seek to manage and heal your depression.

Be deeply curious about what you personally need to manage your depression. Is it a certain kind of diet? A certain amount of sleep? A certain reduction of work or downtime on the weekends? Do you need to be deeply involved in creative or expressive activities? Do you need more or less contact in order to manage your depression? Do you need a radical lifestyle change? Do you need a media fast? Do you need bodywork and therapy and exercise and [fill in the blank]? You get the idea…

So practice deep curiosity about how you can manage and move through your depression. Educate yourself about how your own personal depression experience shows up and what’s helped you in the past and what may help you now. And always ask for help and support in figuring this out.

Much like someone who might have a chronic injury may have to learn and be vigilant about what helps and hurts their weak ankle, bad back, etc, when you live with or are experiencing depression, it’s your job (along with support from your health care providers) to understand what possibly triggers your depression and what helps it.

5. You are not alone in your depression.

As I’ve said before, when you’re in a depressive episode or living with depression, you may feel like you’re the only one who’s going through this. But you are so not alone! For starters, re-read those statistics at the top of the article to really deeply see in black and white just how many people actually deal with depression.

And then, moreover, there are scores of examples (and more surfacing everyday) of people who are disclosing that they live with depression (or anxiety, or bipolar, or other mental health challenges) who have also journeyed through depression and who have crafted lives for themselves that, presumably, feel full and good to them.

Some of my very favorite examples of celebrities who have experienced depression and/or who live with it persistently and spoken up about it include author J.K. Rowling, blogger Glennon Melton Doyle, and actress Kristen Bell.

And then there are the stories of the “non-famous” who live with and manage depression everyday of their lives. Reading their stories on sites like The Mighty (among other sites) can help remind you that even if you struggle with depression, you are not alone. But sometimes it may really feel that way.

So when you’re going through a depressive episode or living with depression, read the stories of others who live with it, too, so that you can feel less alone.

Moving forward. (because moving forward with depression IS possible.)

Depression is a common experience that so many of us face and yet is something that so many people still hold stigma and shame around admitting.

Please hear me: Experiencing depression is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a normal and natural human experience that many of us go through in life. You are not broken, less worthy, or less capable because you deal with depression. And you don’t have to go through it alone. Reach out for professional support. Read the stories of others who have also gone through it. And learn what you personally may need to manage and move through your depression. You can do this.

Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments below: What’s one thing you would tell someone else struggling with depression? What would you want to remind them of if they’re in that place? Leave me a message in the comments below and I’ll be sure to respond.

If you would like additional support right now and you live in California or Florida, please feel free to reach out to me directly to explore therapy together.

Or if you live outside of these states, please consider enrolling in the waitlist for the Relational Trauma Recovery School – or my signature online course, Hard Families, Good Boundaries, designed to support you in healing your adverse early beginnings and create a beautiful adulthood for yourself, no matter where you started out in life.

And until next time, please take very good care of yourself. You’re so worth it.

Warmly, Annie

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  1. Amber Meiki on  

    Hi Annie! Thank you for sharing this article, you are doing wonderful work and I’m enjoying following it all on FB. My depression and anxiety has been persistent throughout most of my life at varying degrees. I see my counselor regularly and just recently switched from Zoloft to Pristiq. Life post PC has been an emotional roller-coaster and my emotional struggles over the past few years have been exceptionally trying. I feel like I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I hold it together as much as possible, but the struggle is overwhelming. My little boy is what keeps me going, I love him so much and he needs me. I’m working hard to try and take care of myself and keep it all together, but this is a very lonely struggle as I don’t have the close relationships with my good friends anymore. Anyway, thank you for the work you do and for sharing it like you do!

    • Annie on  

      Hi Amber,

      Thank you so much for sharing so openly and letting me know how my post impacted you. I think that, for many of us, life is an emotional roller coaster that we manage as best we can during its ups and downs and twists and turns. It sounds like you have really good supports in the form of a counselor and a doctor which is terrific and it’s lovely that your love for your little boy is such a strong force in your life. Your love for him really shines through in your words. And as far as supportive friendships, I’m sorry your old friends don’t feel like as much of a support anymore but I wonder if it might feel good to connect with other like-minded folks who are experiencing something similar (depression and anxiety). I think it can be hard for people who don’t struggle with depression and/or anxiety to really “get it” and so one thing I often recommend is to seek out communities of folks who are journeying through what you are going through. I write for a website called TheMighty (www.themighty.com) and there’s a terrific community on there of contributors and readers who deal with anxiety and depression (not to mention other mental health challenges, chronic illnesses, etc). I wonder if checking out that site and their Facebook page might feel supportive for you, too?

      And at the end of the day, remember that as hard as things seem right now, it’s statistically impossible for depression and anxiety to remain constant forever. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and soaking up the love from your precious boy. You’re a wonderful person and you’ve got this.

      Love, Annie

  2. SPSS on  

    Consider your loved ones and friends that are experiencing depression as needing you and your presence more than ever. It is interesting to think about the times when I was growing up and my mother would always make it a point to lean on her sisters and brother during times of trouble or loneliness. Family and community is a natural remedy for depression. Let’s start to use it more often.

  3. Paul R. on  

    Six months ago, I was seeing a therapist fairly regularily. She once told me that if I did not need medication it would not be prescribed. Shortly after that conversation we ended our sessions. Within days of our last meeting, I found out she had retired. This was a surprise I hadn’t seen coming. With her leaving I had no means of continuing with my meds. I felt I was left in the lurch for no good reason. I was angry for a time then I remembered her saying that if I did not need meds none would be prescribed. I feel she was a consummate professional and would not intentionally leave a client without meds. Since her leaving I have been without meds for nearly 5 months. At times it has been difficult to cope but I am managing. Each day I complete without meds is a triumph for me and I never want to go back to relying on meds again. I am experimenting with medical marijuana to cope with my depression, anxiety, and muscle spasms from a birth defect. The M.M. has been working wonders and I feel all I need do now is find the proper dosing.

  4. Caro D on  

    I think of the poem “Uninvited Guest” and remind myself that the current bout of depression will pass. I never know how long it will last but I know it will pass and I will feel better. The same as the Uninvited guest, we don’t know how long they will stay for and make life uncomfortable but we know they will leave again. They are only a guest not a permanent fixture. It helps me get through.

    • Annie on  

      Beautiful, Caro. Would you mind sharing the version of the poem you’re referring to here in the comments section? I’m not quite sure I’ve seen this myself and imagine that the words of the poem could feel useful to our community of readers. Thank you for bringing this up. Warmly, Annie

    • Barb on  

      I have gotten better with my depression but I only have a therapist and meds for support. If I express my thoughts and fears to my family they laugh st me! I have always been afraid of things and even now I can’t share what I am afraid of because it is so unusual that I’m afraid people will laugh!

  5. Robyn Bishop on  

    I have a loved one struggling …. oh how I hope they will hear me as I share this info with them

    • Annie on  

      Hi Robyn,

      It can feel so hard when we have a loved one struggling. I do hope that sharing this article with them feels helpful and please remember to take good care of yourself, too.

      Warmly, Annie

  6. Anusha on  

    Hi Annie,

    Thank you for your article and warm words, your compassion reflects in your words.

    I’ve struggled with depression for a long time, there are great days and ” black hole” days. I feel bad for not being a more stable role model for my kids. When I’m up I bring them the moon but when I’m absent I’m totally gone in my black space.

    Thank you!

  7. Tess Colayco on  

    “You got well before. You will get well again. “
    “Remember that you are not alone. God is with You, more than ever, m holding you tenderly.”
    “ l love you.… I’m always here for you.”

    • Annie on  

      Hi Tess, thank you for sharing these affirmations with all of us. Those are such compassionate and wise words to say to ourselves or to a loved one. I’m grateful for your share. Warmly, Annie

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