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Published On: Fri, May 11th, 2018

5 Dangerous Paths of Depression and How to Get Help

Depression is a severe mental illness that, at one time or another, will affect roughly 7 percent of the US population in any given year. These episodes may only last a few weeks or a few months, but they can have devastating life consequences if a person is unable to find support and work to get better.

If an episode of depression lasts more than a few weeks or if a person has more depressive episodes than not, they may have developed major or persistent depression. This condition is severe, and help should be sought right away. The longer a person stays depressed, the more likely their brain is to rewire itself. Those changes will make it easier to fall into depression again.

photo ijmaki via pixabay

There are two main problems when it comes to getting help with depression: social stigma and lack of resources. Social stigma can make a person not want to get help or fall into denial, this can be tough to overcome alone, but it’s possible. A lack of resources, however, can seem insurmountable. But there are always ways to get help and to overcome depression.

If you or a loved one is affected by depression, it’s essential to remain vigilant on the path to recovery. There are some paths you could go down that will cause much more harm and devastation than any potential good. Some of these are easy to recognize and clear-cut, but some dangerous paths aren’t so well marked.

Seclusion

Pulling away from other people, emotionally, is a sign of depression. Pulling away from groups and activities you would have found enjoyable but no longer do is a symptom. This seclusion, the longer it goes on, can make it that much harder to reach out and get help. The longer you have depression and the more you pull away, the easier it is for your brain to rework itself to fear social contact.

To break free from the cycle, it’s critical to make an effort to connect with people. If it’s only over the phone or through an online support group, that still counts as making progress. If you can’t stand the idea of facing your current social circles, branch out. Find something new to focus on and join a group about it. If you have depression, you may not be particularly enthusiastic about anything but making an effort to break your current patterns is key to ending a depressive episode.

Denial

No one wants to have depression. It’s a condition that can lead to an inability to enjoy life, to connect with other people, and even prevent you from earning a living. Not only that but the longer you are depressed, the higher the chance that you will develop another mental illness alongside severe or recurrent depression.

That, combined with the social stigma, can lead to denial of the condition. Denial, however, may be the trickiest path to avoid. It can also be the most dangerous as those in denial will refuse any and all attempts at treatment even if it is presented to them.

The best thing to do in this case is to be patient and take small steps. Even if you aren’t entirely sure if you have depression, or you don’t think you fit all of the “classic” symptoms, just thinking that “Hey, maybe I have depression,” could be the only sign you need. Take a small step to see what resources are available to you. Call a hotline, visit a free clinic, talk to a support group counselor or a religious figure you trust.

photo Emuishere Pelicula via Flickr

Self Medicating

The most immediately damaging path someone with depression can take is self-medicating. “Self-medicating” is the process of using a substance not prescribed or approved by a professional to treat a typically self-diagnosed condition. This can quickly lead to dependence and addiction. If this has become an issue or you have gone down this path, getting clean from drugs is step one before tackling the broader problem of depression.

Self-medication doesn’t stop at drugs, either. It includes escapism and endless distraction and can come in the form of television, video games, and even social media. For others, their “drug” of choice is food, leading to weight problems, health conditions, and lower self-esteem.

Everything is fine in moderation, but if you feel one aspect of your life is getting out of proportion to the others, you may have a problem. If you ever think this is the case, even just a little bit, getting an outside opinion is vital. Depression clouds your judgment and can make it hard to see how things are. A professional or a counselor or trained coach should be able to help you make better decisions.

Inability to Get Treatment

The hardest thing most people with depression will face in trying to get help is the inability to get treatment. It could be because of cost, lack of transportation, or a shortage of programs and people qualified to help in their immediate area, or just the inability to focus on finding the right program.

If you are at a loss as to how you are going to get help, a great place to start is with a national, charitable organization like NAMI. All it takes to get started is a phone call, a text, or an email. They could help set you up with transportation, a referral to treatment centers, or even a “scholarship” for treatment.

Conclusion

Some people with depression will avoid treatment because they don’t feel that they are worth the resources or the attention. In fact, this lack of self-care is a trademark of depression. The more it drags on, the less reason you will have to feel good about yourself. This can lead to denial about your condition and refusal to find treatment.

It’s important to remember that in all cases, no matter how bad things seem, depression is an illness. It might not have incredibly visible physical signs, but it can be devastating to long-term happiness and brain health. If you thought you had an infection, you would go to the doctor to be on the safe side, right? You should do the same for your mental health. If you think you have depression, do seek out a professional opinion. It could save your life.

Author: Richie Hedderman

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