"Depressed" and "depression" are very common words in our daily conversations. Many of us have learned to use them instead of other, more accurate synonyms like: sad, melancholic, disappointed, miserable, unhappy, downcast, gloomy, etc. In fact, Merriam-Webster, the famous dictionary, defines "depressed" as feeling unhappiness (https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/depressed.) No wonder why so many people feel depressed! And from there to feeling sick and incapable to thrive, there's a very little step. Convince yourself of something, and that is what you'll have.
Many self-diagnosed depressions end up becoming true clinical depressions when in reality, they are just life blocks, unsolved situations that make us feel hopeless, lost, tired and sad. Clinical depressions have to comply with very clear criteria to be real mental disorders. Some people end up complying with those criteria because they find no solution to some dilemmas or situations in their lives. They then lose hope, feel trapped, consume their energy in never-ending loops of despair and worry until that becomes their daily life pattern. It's not really a pathological loss of strength and will but an unavoidable result when time goes by and a solution isn't found.
Many of those people don't need a doctor. They're not truly sick. They need help in finding new interpretations, new perspectives, new understandings that lead them to unexpected solutions to their problems. They need somebody who can help them find new approaches and different avenues. Sometimes, that is easier said than done, I know, because the person's acquired beliefs block them from seeing solutions that are clearly visible to those around them, but that doesn't make them sick! That makes them lost or blind! In those cases, what those people are suffering from is a life block or a lack of vision, not a real depression! In the past, many of those situations were solved with the help of elders and friends. Today, in a growingly isolated society, where people share less and dare not truly communicate, professionals are sought to offer advice and help. That, again, doesn't make those lost people sick! By labelling them (or themselves) sick, the label becomes a new burden to bear. They convince themselves that their problem is pathological and thus loose even more hope. Little by little, the lack of solutions, the weight of their label and their lack of hope really convince them that they are mentally sick. And so, they gradually become truly sick.
How can we then help ourselves and others to prevent this from happening? Let me give you a few tips: Clinical depression and feeling lost or stuck are NOT the same thing. Let's join forces in helping ourselves and others avoid mental illness. Life problems, difficult circumstances, losses, disappointments, loneliness, dead ends, lack of physical, emotional or intellectual resources or fear are NOT synonyms for depression but can lead to that unless solved. Don't fall into that trap. Learn to live and be happy.
- Let's start calling things by their real name! Let's start allowing ourselves the freedom to express what we truly feel, instead of labelling our feelings with the general, ill-chosen and mostly erroneous term: "depressed." Learn to use new terms and expressions and make the effort to be precise and clear.
- Let's start helping those around us express themselves, too. Whenever a friend of loved one tells you they are depressed, ask them to clarify their feelings to you; ask them to be more precise so they can understand their own feelings better. That often gives them the opportunity to understand what is causing those feelings and sensations, which frequently results in the new perspective they needed to guide them into finding a solution.
- Ask for help. If you find yourself (or know of somebody in this situation) facing or experiencing a problem you can't solve, don't wait for magical inspiration to offer you an unexpected solution. Look for help. Ask your friends, your loved ones, or even a professional humanologist to help you see new avenues and perspectives. If life is a challenge, act before it becomes unbearable. Help is out there, just waiting for you to ask for it.
- Avoid labels. Trying to fit into a defining box can lead you to not really understanding the problem. We often need to find a name for something in order to give ourselves permission to understand or accept it. But situations and circumstances don't need any labels. They just are. They just happen. And they can be tackled even without a label or name to define them.
- Love yourself. Yes, I know this might sound a bit foreign here but believe me, loving yourself is one of the most powerful ways to prevent depressions and pseudo-depressions. Loving somebody means caring for them and wanting the best for them. If you love yourself, you'll want the best for yourself and you'll make efforts to care for yourself. You will therefore prevent any situation from growing out of control and will look for means, methods and strategies to keep you well, healthy and happy. So look inside yourself for the love all human beings deserve and make sure that it's there. If it's not, ask for help. Others can help you find the way to letting yourself feel worthy and accepting of it.
Humanology works with and for human beings, helping them define and reach happiness while facilitating their growth, development and self-understanding.
Enjoy life, ALL of it,
Jessica J. Lockhart – humanology – www.jessicajlockhart.com
Jessica J. Lockhart is a humanologist, author of 4 books and renowned international speaker.