Dealing With Depression: When You Can’t Just “Snap Out Of It.”
By Grant Stenzel, LCPC
Recently I came across the story of a person who, on the outside, really seemed to have it all. He was a well-known speaker in his field, immensely revered by colleagues, portrayed a pleasant demeanor, was married and had many beautiful children.
Yet, this person decided to take his own life.
Almost everyone who had come into contact with this person, whether directly or through his writings and speeches, was astonished. How could this happen? He seemed so happy. He had everything going for him. Why would he want to throw that away?
As it turns out, I would learn that the man had been suffering from depression.
Dealing with “Functional” Depression
More and more, I am seeing people who are depressed and don’t even realize it. Why? Because they have a stereotypical view of depression.
They say the following to themselves:
“Depressed? Come on. It’s not like I’m a person who is stuck in bed all day or cries all the time. It’s not like I’m always unhappy. I can go to work. I can take care of major responsibilities at the office and at home. How on Earth would I be depressed?”
This is what can be loosely labeled Functional Depression. Mind you, Functional Depression is not a clinical term. It’s what I call it when people are depressed but go about their daily life. Every now and then, you have moments where you are happy or having fun, but that’s where you may be deceiving yourself.
Because despite the occasional happiness, you can still have feelings of being sad, tired, fatigued, worthlessness and guilt. You can’t just “snap out of it” when it comes to this kind of moodiness. You might have trouble sleeping, have trouble concentrating or be eating too much or too little. You have little motivation and more diminished interest in the activities you once enjoyed. Even when people don’t know you’re actually depressed, they may notice that you seem different or down.
All of these signs and more are legitimate warning signs of depression and are not to be taken lightly.
I should know. I’ve been there.
I went through a period of depression after losing a job and being unemployed. I learned through this experience that unemployed people are at serious risk for depression. As you can imagine, this is definitely cause for concern as the current state of our economy and high unemployment rate is not helping in this department. I fear many people out there who are unemployed need help and aren’t getting it like they should.
Like some of these folks, I thought I could just snap out of it. I thought when I got a job everything would be OK. I would say “Tomorrow, I’ll be different,” or “Next week, I’ll radically change.”
But I never did. Until I got help.
If you or someone you love seems to be just going through the motions of life and feeling the occasional happiness means you don’t have depression, don’t ignore it. It’s possible you may not have depression, but erring on the side of caution by talking to someone professionally trained for dealing with these issues is incredibly beneficial.
Remember, there’s never any shame in asking for help and there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be happier. Don’t you deserve that?