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This month’s mental health awareness topic is Depression. Here is our Mental Health Liaison, Kaela, to tell us more:

This month we want to bring awareness to something everyone has heard about:  depression. Many people, myself included, have said “I’m so depressed,” without realizing just what it means to be depressed. It is so much more than feeling upset or having a bad day. 

​​Depression is a feeling of hopelessness and inadequacy. A person fighting depression may want to stay in bed all day, or may feel no motivation to do anything. He/she may show up to work and the gym, look and act like nothing is wrong, but breaks down when they get home. Just like mental health, depression has many branches underneath and can affect different people in different ways. 

Depression Defined

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.” Depression symptoms can be mild or severe and include feeling sad, losing interest or pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyed, changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, sleeping too much, feeling worthless or guilty, and thoughts of suicide. Approximately one in six people will experience depression at some point in their life.  It is estimated that 1in 15 adults will experience depression this year.  

​​​Depression can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time. There are multiple factors that can lead to a person developing depression. The chemicals in one’s brain can contribute to symptoms of depression, such as low levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are the “feel good” chemicals developed in a person’s brain. Depression can also be caused by genetics, being passed down from parents to offspring. Environmental factors can also contribute to depression in people, such as exposure to violence, neglect, abuse, or poverty. 

​​People battle depression in different ways.  Many believe that people with depression stay in bed all day and will not get up to go to work, eat, shower, etc.  But, this is not always the case. There is such a thing as high-functioning depression which is when a person experiences symptoms of depression but is still able to function normally most of the time.

High Functioning Depression

​​People considered high functioning do everything they are supposed to, but it takes a monumental effort. They force themselves to engage in social activities when they would much rather withdraw. They do well enough in school or work, but it is challenging to focus on tasks.  Some who are considered high functioning may put on a mask to show others around them they are happy and okay but will give in to their depressive mood when they are alone afterwards and may feel exhausted from pretending for the day. 

If you or someone you care about is suffering, please share the RESOLVE hotline (888-796-8226) as well as the Suicide Prevention hotline (800-273-8255). There are professionals who are available 24/7 to help and provide the treatment needed. Calling these hotlines is at no cost and can help those fighting continue on.