Occasionally feeling sad or getting down in the dumps is just part of the human condition—we’ve all been there before, right?
But if these feelings persist for months on end, combined with physical symptoms and destructive thoughts that impact a person’s everyday life, it might not be mere sadness. It’s probably clinical depression.
And as anyone who has experienced depression can confirm, this mental health condition is an entirely different beast.
Perhaps you’ve never walked in these shoes yourself, but you may have a loved one who is currently struggling with depression. You might be wondering how you can cheer them up. But, unfortunately, combating depression isn’t quite that simple.
Here’s why someone with depression can’t just “snap out of it” by thinking positive.
Depression Is a Chronic Issue
Depression doesn’t occur overnight—even when it manifests as a result of acute trauma, it can take time to develop. This means that depression isn’t going to lift overnight, either.
Yes, someone who is just feeling sad might be able to get out of their funk within a few hours or a day or two at most. But someone who is depressed will need more time. Turning it all around in a day isn’t realistic.
Physical Depression Symptoms Impede Motivation
It’s true that there are certain lifestyle choices that can help ease symptoms of depression. For example, exercise releases endorphins, which boosts your mood and makes you feel happier. But when someone is depressed, the idea of exercising might feel impossible.
Depression can cause a wide range of physical symptoms. Someone with depression might stay up at night tossing and turning, and then feel exhausted during the day. They might have frequent headaches, lose their appetite, or have digestive problems. When you feel physically ill, engaging in activities that might help your mood doesn’t seem very appealing.
Sure, even someone with depression might feel happier if they spend the day hanging out with their friends. But here’s the nasty trick—depression lies. Thus, it’s easy to get stuck in a negative thought spiral.
For example, you may reach out and ask your loved one if they want to grab dinner, and at first, they’re excited. Moments later, though, they start wondering if you really want to see them after all. Suddenly, they find themselves feeling like they’re imposing on you, and they decline the invite.
Depression can warp someone’s thought process, making it more challenging to follow through with plans that would actually be beneficial.
Depression Leads to Feeling Numb
Yes, depression can involve feeling sad for extended periods of time. But depression doesn’t look quite the same for everyone. Someone with depression could also feel completely numb—they may not feel happy, but they aren’t really happy, either. They might be unable to shake their feelings of boredom, apathy, and emptiness.
No matter what happens, good or bad, they might feel like they don’t really react to anything. In this case, the immediate goal isn’t necessarily to feel happy. It’s just to feel something again.
Healing From Depression Is Multifaceted
No matter how well you know your loved one, or how deeply you care about them, depression isn’t easy to manage. Someone who has been depressed for months or even years will probably need professional help to work through it.
Talk therapy, medication, and a plan to implement long-lasting lifestyle changes can all be aspects of the healing process. Instead of hoping that your loved one will snap out of it, encouraging them to call a therapist could be more helpful in the long run.
If you have a loved one dealing with depression or you’ve noticed these symptoms in yourself, therapy can be the best next step. Contact me today if you’re interested in finding out more.