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One of the common misunderstandings about depression is that it’s feeling sad or just down. Although, people with depression feel sadness, it feels much more intense than sadness. Another misconception is believing that being depressed is a choice, or that they just need to have a positive attitude and cheer up. People can often get frustrated or simply don’t understand why a person can’t just “snap out of it.” Another common reaction to someone who is depressed is saying that the person has nothing to be depressed about and people suffer more in life.

Unfortunately, this is not the case, depression is a real mental illness and those who have depression cannot just decide to stop feeling depressed. Depression feels hopeless and consuming of the mind and body. Individuals can experience depression in different ways, below are a list of some of these

  • Everything feels hopeless. Depression may make a person feel that there’s no way ever to feel good again and nothing can make them feel better.
  • There’s no pleasure or joy in life. A person with depression may not enjoy things they once loved and may feel like nothing can make them happy or they may be uninterested in doing anything.
  • Concentration/focus becomes harder. Making decisions, reading, or watching television can be extremely difficult with depression because people can’t think clearly or follow what’s happening.
  • Self-esteem is often missing. People with depression may feel like they are worthless or a failure at everything. They may constantly dwell on negative events and experiences and more often than not, they are unable to see positive qualities in themselves.
  • Food may not seem appetising. Some people with depression feel like they don’t want to eat anything and have to force themselves to eat. This can result in weight loss.
  • Food may be used as a comfort or coping tool. Although some people with depression don’t want to eat, others can overeat and crave unhealthy or comfort foods. This can lead to weight gain.
  • Aches and pains may be present. Some people experience headaches, nausea, body aches, and general other pains.
  • Sleeping may be an issue. Falling asleep at night or staying asleep all night can feel nearly impossible for some people with depression. Individuals may wake up early and not be able to go back to sleep. Others may sleep excessively, but still wake up feeling tired or unrefreshed, despite the extra hours of sleep.
  • Energy levels are low to non-existent. Some people feel like they can’t get out of bed or generally feel exhausted all the time even when getting enough sleep. They may feel that they are too tired to do simple daily tasks.

Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence and the LGBT community.