Depression is a debilitating, yet common, mental illness that affects over 240 million people worldwide. Treatment for depression is very effective for most people who seek it. However, most depression is left untreated due to factors such as accessibility, affordability and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Depression is not the same as short-term sadness or the usual mood fluctuations that come with day-to-day life. It’s a significant, chronic mood disorder that interferes with daily activities. Clinical depression, also known as major depression is considered a psychiatric disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Depression, when left untreated, can have devastating effects on all aspects of life. The good news is that treatment for depression is incredibly effective, whether through talk therapy, medication or a combination of both. Here are a few ways that your life can be improved by seeking treatment for depression.
A change in sleep pattern is a common sign of depression. This can mean sleeping more or less than usual. The most common sleep problem associated with depression is insomnia – the inability to fall or stay asleep. The lack of sleep then exacerbates the depression, in a seemingly never-ending cycle. In other, less common, cases, people with depression sleep more than usual. Depression can be physically draining and it’s not uncommon to feel fatigued or to be unable to get out of bed. Some people with depression also use sleep to escape “the real world” and may begin using or abusing sleeping aids. Sleep deprivation is associated with memory problems, a weakened immune system and trouble with concentration.
By treating depression, you are likely to see improvements in your sleep.
Untreated depression will undoubtedly affect your work over time. If you commute to work, you may find it extremely difficult to get out of the house and get to work on time. If you work from home, you may find that you are not getting much done. You may be unable to concentrate on your tasks or may lack the motivation to work. Perhaps you’ve lost all interest in your work, though you may have enjoyed it in the past. Or maybe, your job is a major environmental contributor to your depression. Many employees are fearful of speaking up about their depression, due to concerns about confidentiality or victimization in the workplace.
Through treating your depression, you may be better able to cope with the challenges of your job.
3. PERSONAL HYGIENE
Depression (and other mental illnesses such as PTSD and bipolar disorder) can have a significant effect on your ability to engage in self-care. Tasks that once seemed simple, such as taking a shower, shaving or brushing your teeth, can feel overwhelming when you are severely depressed. This can also extend to taking care of your physical environment and you may avoid tasks like washing dishes or disposing of trash. Over time, many people with depression begin to feel ashamed of their appearance or environment, thus worsening the depression.
When depression improves, you’ll be better able to take care of yourself and your surroundings.
Untreated depression is bound to have a huge impact on your relationships. Quite often, depression causes you to be more isolated or withdrawn. You may be unwilling to engage in social activities, even remote ones like video calls, responding to texts or using social media. You may become less affectionate or disinterested in sex, which may have an impact on romantic relationships. In turn, the people around you may be unsure of how to help you, or may be unaware that you are depressed. It’s common to feel like a burden, which may cause you to further isolate yourself from loved ones.
You are likely to see improvements in your relationships after receiving treatment for your depression.
5. PHYSICAL HEALTH
Though depression is a mental illness, it can have significant impacts on your physical health. Changes in diet or eating patterns are common, resulting in weight loss or gain. Eating problems can lead to stomachaches, constipation and other digestive symptoms. Many people use drugs or alcohol to cope with depression and these substances certainly have an impact on the body. Depression, over time, also has the ability to affect the immune, cardiovascular and central nervous systems.
When depression is treated, you’ll be more motivated to take care of your physical health through exercise and healthy foods.
Depression should not be ignored or left untreated. The majority of people who seek treatment for their depression are able to overcome or manage their symptoms. When effectively treated, you’ll begin to see major changes in your mood, your ability to manage your responsibilities and your overall wellbeing. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an especially effective treatment option that allows you to see changes in a relatively short time.
CBT helps you to overcome your depression by examining your thoughts and core beliefs. Ultimately, you will be able to form a new way of thinking that is more positive and compassionate. You will be better able to cope with whatever life throws your way, whether at work or in your personal life.
The clinicians at Flourish Psychology have years of experience and training in treating depression and other mood disorders. Click here to schedule a free consult to start seeing changes in your life.