Focusing on emotional well-being: depression, the ‘silent’ illness

Focusing on emotional well-being: depression

Today, January 13, we celebrate, once again, World Depression Day.

Depression, according to the dictionary, is defined as a mental illness or disorder that is characterized by deep sadness, mental decline, low self-esteem, loss of interest in everything and a decrease in psychic functions.

Depression is a great word that produces endless sensations, from fear, apprehension, restlessness, rejection…. largely motivated by ignorance.

It is, as I said, a great word, as well as a huge concept, so much so that its impact is universal, so much so that it is the leading cause of disability worldwide, so much so that 3.8% of the population suffers from it according to the WHO. In addition, a very significant fact is the increase in cases among adolescents and those over 65 years of age.

It is true that at this time and perhaps as a “beneficial” effect of the pandemic that we are experiencing, these types of situations are becoming more visible and culturally a slow, but unstoppable change is taking place, to demystify this type of alterations in the field emotional and thus making it easier to accept that it can affect each and every one of us, that it is not a phenomenon that only happens to others.

So that we can make this great concept more manageable, perhaps we should learn to break it up into smaller pieces that make it easier for us to “digest” it.

The first of all is to be able to identify these types of situations. In general, it is easy to accept that when a part of our body, from a physical point of view, hurts or its functionality is limited, it is because something is not right and it is time to consult a specialist. We identify a physical problem, accept it, and seek a solution.

So why is it so difficult to internalize that when something in our emotional sphere does not work or “hurts”, we admit it and go to seek the best specialized help?

The subject is complex and the answer is not simple and probably has many facets. First of all, it is as we have said to identify some dysfunction and in order to do so we must be aware of its possible existence and of the need to ask for help.

But, I do not want to carry that big word with more weight, so I would like to share small things that serve to help us know that something is wrong in our emotional part. We must learn to “listen” to what our body is telling us. We must learn to dedicate time to ourselves, to practice the much talked about active listening.

There are many simple details that we must be able to identify such as: difficulty concentrating on daily tasks, not wanting to do things that until now motivated us (reading, talking with friends, going for a walk, etc.), difficulties in sleep, lack of appetite or, on the other hand, compulsive eating, irritability.

All these signals should alert us that something is wrong, just as we do when, for example, a joint hurts.

The causes that can lead to situations such as depression are highly variable, from a genetic predisposition to environmental causes such as loss of a loved one, job changes, changes in our living conditions as has happened to us as a result of the pandemic. For this reason, the treatments for this type of process can be varied, requiring in some cases pharmacological as well as psychological support and must be maintained in the medium-long term.

As a conclusion we can say that the important thing is:

  • Become aware that this type of situation can affect us all
  • Prevent, having healthy lifestyle habits: eating well, exercising, doing things we like, etc. Emotional health is clearly related to physical health
  • Identify signals as early as possible
  • Take action, requesting help from professionals
  • Be clear that there are treatments that solve these situations

We must not forget that emotions are only one of the pillars that allow us to feel well. But you also have to pay attention to the physical, social, professional and financial aspects. The goal is to find a balance in all these pillars in order to be happier.

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