Have you ever had one of those days when you feel so down? You know what I'm talking about. That day when you feel tired - of working, of studying, of dealing with problems...of life in general. Most people would say that they feel 'depressed' that day. But, is it REALLY depression?
The simple answer is no, it is not clinical depression. Yes, you may feel terrible and bored and angry, but this feeling will usually go away by the end of the day or after doing something fun. But clinical depression is so much more than that. It is characterized by feeling down, sad, moody, tired, not energetic, etc. for a long period of time - the diagnostic criteria is usually around 6 months. When you are depressed, it is very hard to get your mood up. It seems as though nothing will make you feel better.
Depression is a co-morbid condition with anorexia or eating disorders. This means that when a patient suffers from ED, he/she is likely to also suffer from depression. Researchers are not sure whether or not the ED actually causes the depression, or if it was there before ED arrived. Either way, the fact remains that victims with ED usually experience depression.
In my darkest days, I experienced depression. I wanted to be socially withdrawn from everyone - sometimes even my family. ED wanted me to isolate, to keep to myself at all times. I became very lethargic and not energetic - partly because I was not eating enough, but also because the depression got to me. I felt sad all the time. Movies that used to make me howl with laughter ceased to even bring a smile upon my face. Jokes did not brighten up my day. Things I used to enjoy doing like reading, writing, and solving puzzle became boring. Having fun was a chore and something I did not want to do. Each morning, I would get up from my bed and feel lazy - not wanting to get out of bed because I felt that there was no point in living. Every night, I would spend hours twisting and turning on my bed, thinking about how terrible I felt all day long. ED would repeat his insults, mocking me and making me feel even worse.
You fat, lazy girl. Look how much you ate today! You are gaining weight. You are useless. No one wants to be around you, so avoid all people. And there is no reason for you to be happy or to laugh. Just stick with me. You do not need the world or anything in it. You just need me.
So, ED tok advantage of my low mood and made me fall deeper and deeper into his trance. He convinced me that there was nothing worth living for - that death would be more comforting and relieving. And so, for about 1 year, I can say that I was depressed.
I did not get medication for depression until I entered into the hospital in April. There are many types of medications for depression, including selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and other antidepressants. SSRIs are non-additive, so it is quite easy to wean patients off of them. I was put on 2 kinds of SSRIs - but not for depression, only for sleep (sleeping was very difficult - more on that in another blog!). However, since I was taking the SSRIs, they did help with my mood (my case was very very very mild depression, so I did not need high doses of the medications). And although I was very reluctant to take any medication, I must admit that they have helped me a great deal. I have noticed a big difference in my sleep - after taking the medication, I am asleep within forty minutes to one hour.
In terms of my mood, the medications have definitely helped. But since I was not diagnosed with clinical depression, the best thing that helped me lift my mood was getting my life back. Eating proper meals that nourished my starved body and brain helped the chemicals in my brain. (When you are depressed, there is less serotonin in your brain - the 'happy' or 'feel good' chemical. Medications for depression work by stopping the uptake of serotonin - basically, it increases the amount of the 'feel good' hormone in the brain, so you feel better). Going out with my friends, watching funny movies with my family, and shutting out ED has been the best cure for my mood.
My point? If you are suffering from depression, please get help. I know that it is hard to admit that you may have a problem, but we are human! Asking your doctor about medications or techniques to help you will certainly pay off in the long run.
In my case, depression was not a co-morbid condition with ED. Instead, ED decided to rob me of my happiness and cheery spirit. Thankfully, I exposed ED and let him know that he was NOT going to take my joy from my soul. I got help, and I am happy to say that today, I do not struggle with depression. Instead, the everlasting joy of the Lord fills my heart. What a blessing!