Globally, depression affects an estimated 300 million people of all ages. It is a common and serious mood disorder that affects how people think, feel, and act. Depression, as opposed to being unhappy, is an intense feeling of deep sadness and despair that can last for days, weeks, or even months. Feelings of hopelessness, rejection, poor concentration, lack of energy, sleep problems, and sometimes suicidal thoughts are among the symptoms. Depression is not a choice; it is a medical condition.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression affects approximately 8% of the U.S. population over the age of 12 and it’s a serious medical condition that can never be a choice to have. Despite the availability of effective treatments, less than half of those suffering from depression in the world seek professional assistance. Furthermore, individuals may be hesitant to seek help for a variety of reasons, including the belief that they can overcome depression on their own or that no one will understand how they feel.
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There are a lot of myths surrounding depression, the two most common being that depression is triggered by a negative life event, and that people who are depressed should find something that makes them happy so they can “snap out of it”. Neither misconception accurately depicts the condition, and both contribute to its stigma. So let’s take a look at things to know about is depression a choice below.
5 Things to Know About if Depression Is a Choice
- It can affect anyone. Depression can strike people of any age, ethnicity, or social status in any location.
- It is quite common. According to the World Health Organization, depression will be the second-leading medical cause of disability by 2030, trailing only HIV/AIDS.
- It is possible that there is no cause. Depression may not be precipitated by a specific event. Depression can strike at any time and in any location.
- It cannot be repaired quickly. Some people who suffer from depression try to self-medicate in order to alleviate their symptoms. They may turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, or other risky behaviors to help them cope with their thoughts and feelings, but their search for a quick fix can lead to a life of self-destruction.
- It is responsive to treatment. People who receive professional treatment for depression report feeling better in nearly 80% of cases. Medication, therapy, or alternative approaches can also be used in treatment.
Self-Help for Depression
For someone who does not suffer from clinical depression, a friend or family member’s suggestion that you simply do x, y, or z may be beneficial. Also, those suffering from mild or situational depression may be able to snap out of it by simply getting out more or making some simple changes in their lives.
According to research, lifestyle changes such as exercise, dietary changes, relaxation, sleep, and increased social interaction can both protect against and alleviate symptoms of depression. Making these kinds of lifestyle changes may be enough to help a person feel better for milder symptoms or situation-related symptoms. It can be difficult to find the energy to exercise every day, for example, when you barely have enough energy to get out of bed.
When Should You Seek Outside Assistance?
If you are depressed or no longer find pleasure in things you used to enjoy, and these feelings have persisted for more than two weeks, it is very likely that you will need to seek professional help to get back on track, especially if you have several other symptoms of depression, such as:
- Weight or appetite fluctuations
- Sleeping difficulties
- Exhaustion or a lack of energy
- Guilt or a sense of worthlessness
- Thinking or concentration issues
- Suicidal or death-related thoughts
If you are suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for help and support from a trained counselor. Also, Call 911 if you or a loved one is in immediate danger. See our National Helpline Database for more mental health resources.
What Can Assist
Antidepressants are one type of treatment that a mental health professional can provide. Antidepressants work by increasing the availability of various neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Because different antidepressants affect neurotransmitters in different ways, certain antidepressants may be more effective for any given individual than others.
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Psychotherapy is another popular treatment option, either on its own or in conjunction with antidepressant medications. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can be beneficial in the treatment of depression because it teaches people how their thoughts and behaviors may be contributing to their depression. This approach, when combined with medications, may be the most effective way to prevent a recurrence of depression.
How to Handle It
Depression is not your fault, and it is most emphatically not a choice. Evidence-based treatment options, such as medications and psychotherapy, can be beneficial in reducing depression symptoms. There are also lifestyle changes that you can make to help you cope and get some relief. These activities will not cure your depression, but they will help you manage your symptoms and complement your other treatments.
#1. Maintain a healthy diet.
Some nutritional deficiencies have been linked to depression, according to research5, but it is unclear whether one causes the other or vice versa. Make an effort to consume the recommended daily amounts of amino acids, minerals, fatty acids, and complex carbohydrates.
#2. Make an effort to get enough rest.
Depression can cause sleep disturbances, such as sleeping too little or sleeping too much. Concentrate on developing good sleep habits, such as going to bed at the same time every night, not using electronic devices before bed, and developing a relaxing bedtime routine.
#3. Make an effort to exercise.
When you’re depressed, it can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise, but it may not take much to make a difference. Regular moderate exercise has been shown in studies to not only help prevent depression but also to be an effective treatment. According to one study, as little as one hour of exercise per week can help prevent depression symptoms.
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Of course, this research does not imply that if you had simply eaten well, slept well, and exercised regularly, you could have avoided depression. Depression is a complex condition with many variables and risk factors, such as your family history, unique genetic makeup, and brain chemistry, among others.
What to Say to a Depressed Person
If you have a friend or loved one who is depressed, there are ways to provide support without blaming or shaming the individual.
#1. Recognize their pains
Do not dismiss the symptoms of depression. Let them know you understand how real and difficult what they’re going through is, and then let them know you’re here to help.
#2. Inquire as to what you can do.
Even simple daily tasks can be difficult to complete when suffering from depression. Making dinner or doing the laundry can appear to be impossible household tasks. Even small gestures such as bringing them dinner or picking up their dry cleaning can be beneficial.
#3. Do not provide cures or solutions.
Recommending solutions may appear to be helpful, but in many cases, those “have you tried this?” statements come across as non-empathetic at best and judgmental at worst.
#4. Show them that you care.
Tell the person that they are important to you and that you appreciate them. Because depression can make people feel worthless, it is critical to seek out social support.
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5 Ways to Help Someone Suffering From Depression
#1. Be patient
Depression is a medical condition that must be treated by a trained professional. Healthy coping skills must be learned and also practiced over time.
#2. Listen without passing judgment.
Listen more than you speak. Allowing someone to express their feelings and thoughts aloud can be extremely beneficial to them also.
#3. Concentrate on the present moment and take small steps.
Looking at the big picture when you’re depressed can be overwhelming. That is why it is important to live in the present moment and take each day as it comes.
#4. Get involved and take action.
Contact the individual, make a plan, and get moving—go to the mall, watch a movie, can also cook a nice dinner, or simply go for a walk in the park. When people are depressed, they tend to withdraw from others. Engaging in a fun or relaxing activity is a great way to stay connected.
#5. Educate yourself on depression.
Power comes from knowledge. The more we learn, the better we will be able to change people’s perceptions of depression.
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Depression is a real and serious condition. Nobody chooses to have it, just as nobody chooses to be sick in any other way. Furthermore, most of us probably know someone—a friend or family member—whose life has been impacted by depression. The good news is that depression can be treated and that people who suffer from it can live happy and productive lives. Also, treatment is the key to learning to live with depression. As a society, it is a pastime to de-stigmatize the condition and recognize it for what it is: an illness that no one wishes to have.
Depression is not a choice. Period.
We are well aware that it frequently results in suicidal ideation and attempts (and completions). Humans are biologically programmed to survive. It is against our nature to “choose” to feel in a way that deprives us of our power and may lead to the end of our lives.
Frequently Asked Questions: Is Depression a Choice
Is depression a disorder yes or no?
Is depression considered a mental illness? Yes, clinical depression is a serious mental illness that can be treated. It is a medical condition, not a flaw in your character.
Can you choose to be not depressed?
It can have an impact on you in a variety of ways, including altering your personality, interests, and outlook on the future. We don’t choose to be sad. It can have an impact on many aspects of your life, including relationships, work, and education. We don’t pick to be in a bad mood all the time and make everything difficult.
What is the actual reason of depression?
Depression is caused by a variety of factors. It can happen for a variety of reasons and has numerous triggers. An upsetting or stressful life event, such as bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy, or job or money worries, can be the cause for some people. Depression is frequently caused by a combination of factors.
Is depression a permanent condition?
Depression works in the same way. Although there is no cure for depression, there are numerous effective treatments. People who suffer from depression can recover and live long and healthy lives.