I used to think winter was the most depressing time of the year. I hated to see the leaves fall off the trees. I couldn’t wait for spring when the flowers started blooming again.
Now that I have experienced true depression, I know the difference. There is a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but what I felt was never that serious. I just wanted to get through the winter so I could go back to planting my garden.
Symptoms of clinical depression can include:
- A prolonged feeling of sadness or hopelessness
- Losing interest in the things you used to enjoy
- Either sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
- Total lack of energy
- Either weight loss or weight gain
- Feeling that you are worthless
- Trouble concentrating or making decisions
- Suicidal thoughts
Causes of depression
Although scientists haven’t figured out exactly what causes depression, there are some common factors. These include a chemical imbalance in the brain, a change in hormones, or having a family history of depression.
Some things that increase your risk for depression
- Gender plays a big role, as depression affects more women than men
- Stressful events such as the death of a loved one or financial difficulties
- A history of bipolar disorders, alcoholism, or other mental health diseases like anxiety, bulimia, anorexia, and post-traumatic stress disorder
- Abuse of recreational drugs or alcohol
- Chronic illness, cancer, or stroke
There are many treatments available
Depression is treatable. In fact, there are so many options that it may take some trial and error to find the one that works for you. And it may take a combination of things. There are numerous prescription medications available for depression, but you should talk to a mental health professional first.
I have fought this beast for over a year now, but I can truly say that things are getting better. Mine started with bronchitis and an abscessed tooth. All of this — on top of lupus, fibromyalgia, and other things that I deal with every day — was just too much. It started with feeling like I was never going to get any better. I felt like I was surrounded by a gray fog that clouded everything I tried to do. A simple thing like cooking a meal became a major ordeal. I couldn’t even make a decision about what to eat.
Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor
Finally, I trusted my doctor enough to tell her what was going on in my head. She was very matter-of-fact about it. No big drama or telling me that I just needed to think happy thoughts. She laid out all my options, and together we came up with a plan. I tried three prescriptions before I finally found one that worked for me.
The difference between my life now and a year ago is like night and day. The gray fog that seemed to surround me has lifted. It’s easier to get out of bed and face the day. I’m looking forward to things that I enjoy again, like cooking and planting flowers.
I wish now that I had talked to my doctor sooner. There’s such a stigma around depression and other mental illnesses that many people won’t admit they have a problem. But it is no different than having lupus. It’s just another disease that my body has developed. And it’s just as treatable. I don’t mind having another pill to take at bedtime, because the results are amazing. It has given me the ability to enjoy my life again.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.