Picture two lives in front of you. In one you’re happy, productive, motivated, doing things that you love and living your life to the fullest. In the other, you feel empty, isolated, you push away your friends, nothing brings you joy, and you can barely make it out of bed most days. If someone told you to pick one of those lives, which one would you choose?
Of course, given the choice, you would pick the happier life. There’s no way that you or anyone else would choose the other one. That’s why it makes no sense to tell someone to decide to be happy. You can’t choose to be depressed, it’s a serious brain disorder and needs to be treated as such.
What Depression Really Is
Also known as major depressive disorder or chronic depression, this is an illness that strips you of who you are. It affects how you think, how you feel, your sleeping and eating patterns, and every other aspect of your life. It can turn someone from an outgoing, lively, person who’s full of hope for the future, into someone that no longer feels any joy.
What most people don’t realize is that no one wakes up one day and decides that they’re going to be depressed. In fact, it has a lot to do with the chemistry of your brain. Experts usually associate this disorder with a lack of serotonin, the “feel-good” chemical. Although everyone is different, experts also believe that the main causes or depression are most likely genetics, trauma, or other illnesses.
Depression Can Damage Your Brain
This disorder doesn’t just start in the brain, it affects it too. Researchers have found that depression can actually shrink the hippocampus in the brain of sufferers. That may sound complicated, but it’s really not.
The hippocampus is simply the part of the brain that creates memories. This new study has found that it also affects how we see ourselves in the world, which greatly influences our self-esteem. Sufferers of chronic depression often have a low view of themselves, which over time, can affect this part of the brain. Essentially, it can cause brain damage.
You Can’t Just Choose to Be Happier
If we look at the facts for a moment, we can see two things – depression is influenced by brain chemistry and can also damage the brain itself. Not a single person on this Earth has control over their brain. Therefore, it’s impossible to choose for this to happen to you.
Something that we hear time and time again from people who don’t really understand this disorder is that sufferers just need to “think positively” or “choose to be happy.” Although they may just be trying to help, they’re not helping. If thinking positively could cure depression, this disorder would no longer exist. You simply cannot choose to alter your brain.
What Can Really Help
Depression is a serious illness that affects millions of people worldwide. In fact, in the US alone it affects over 16 million people. Along with that, it’s the leading cause of disability in the country.
Although you can’t wish away your illness, there are various forms of treatment available. Most sufferers attend therapy and in some cases use medication to treat their depression. There are also many different types of therapy such as talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Finding the right course of action for you will take some time, but with the help of your doctor, you will be able to fight this illness.
Experts also recommend exercise, getting enough sleep, a good diet, and having a good support system around you. Many people have found that different things help them, from painting to meditation, or even just cleaning the house. It may be difficult finding something that brings you peace, but it’s worth it.
Understanding an illness is the best way that you can start to overcome it. If you or a loved one suffer from depression, it’s important to remember that no one can choose to feel this way. Likewise, no one can choose for it to go away. This is a serious brain disorder that needs proper treatment, not just positive thinking.
Share this article with your friends and family to help them understand the reality of depression. You never know who around you could be suffering or have a loved one who needs their support.